Weird, offbeat and bizarre news from around the world. Funny, strange & odd news stories that make you wince, laugh and fear for humanity.
Hey, eyeball lickers. News is that babies in the womb are possessed of extra lizard-like muscles in their hands. “Most” babies lose the lizard part before they’re born. (Where do they go?) Others take up residence in Buckingham Palace.
The journal Development says the lizard muscles are a hangover from when reptiles transitioned to mammals. Dr Rui Diogo, from the Howard University, who wrote the research, says:
“We have a lot of muscles going to the thumb, very precise thumb movements, but we lost a lot of muscles that are going to the other digits. In our evolution, we do not need them so much. Why are they there? Probably, we cannot just say in evolution, ‘Look, I will delete from scratch, from day zero, the muscle going to digits two, three, four, five and I will just keep the one going to the thumb.’ Probably it is not so easy. Probably you have to form this layer of this muscle and then it disappears on the other digits but persists on the thumbs…
“The important question for me now is, ‘What else are we missing? What will we find when all the human body is inspected at this detail during its development?”
The next King of England?
An octopus changes colours while sleeping. The US show Octopus: Making Contact opines that the captive octopus is dreaming of hunting. Bit of a guess, no? Maybe it’s dreaming of escape or an ancestral home? Dr. David Scheel enlarges:
So here she’s asleep, she sees a crab and her color starts to change a little bit. Then she turns all dark. Octopuses will do that when they leave the bottom. This is a camouflage, like she’s just subdued a crab and now she’s going to sit there and eat it and she doesn’t want anyone to notice her. …This really is fascinating. But yeah, if she’s dreaming that’s the dream.
Spotter: Laughing Squid
Is nothing safe? To Wigan train station, where a man has been caught shagging a cleaning cone. He was observed abusing the facilities by a worker for Virgin Trains, natch.
The Metro reports on Trevor Smith, 38, who was “found in a lift with his trousers and undies around his ankles while thrusting his hips at the cone”. At first Mr Smith was observed with the cone upside down on his lap. He later “mounted” the cone.
Smith, who has committed other public sex acts in the past, will be sentenced at Bolton Crown Court on Thursday, October 24.
Cleaners at the court would be well-advised to lock their tools in a safe place until after sentencing.
The Italian newspaper La Sicilia reports on a local chef arrested on suspicion of drugs dealing. The chef claimed he was testing out “new flavours”, and the two large marijuana plants and 1kg (35oz) of Indian hemp in his pantry were part of his dabbling in cannabis-infused wine, olives, coffee and tuna – all items also seized from his home near Catania.
The 50-year-old is a self-billed “agro-food consultant for third millennium cuisine”.
Meanwhile, you know ‘weed’ you bought from the guy who works in the kitchens, well, it’s oregano – probably.
Who is baking hash cakes and dropping them on the grass? Sarah Kenny says she was walking her Jack Russell cross Max in St Helens, Merseyside, when he scampered into a bush. Later back at home he fell ill. Sarah says she smelt his vomit. “I could tell that it was chocolate which immediately raised alarm but then I smelt this really distinctive smell and I knew it was cannabis. I hadn’t seen what he’d eaten in the bush before but when he was sick we knew straight away it must have been a lot of cake.”
Meanwhile, over in Leyland, Lancashire, Sarah Eccles is taking Billy, a cavachon (King Charles cavalier and bichon frise cross) round the park. The Metro says Billy “stumbled upon a pile of discarded cookies”. The Indy says the “pile” was “two chocolate cookies lying in the grass at her local park”. Both sources see Billy on a video posted on Facebook looking very unwell. Oddly, the Daily Record delivers its story under the headline: “Mum reveals shock video of ‘stoned’ dog who almost died after eating cannabis cookie.” Not the dog’s mum, obviously, which makes her billing irrelevant. Or are mums more worried about cannabis in the bushes than other women?
The good news is Billy is ok. The bigger news is that the Indy reports “there was no indication it [the cookie] had been tested to confirm its ingredients”. But Sarah says she knew it was cannabis by the smell and “picked up one en route to the vets and returned later that night to dispose of the other”.
The identity of felons dropping space cakes in parks around the north-west of England has yet to be established.
What do the birds think of a lawmaker’s to keep birds away from the Chicago Transit Authority’s Irving Park Blue Line station, aka “pigeon poop station”?
Democratic state Rep. Jaime Andrade was talking to local TV about the issue when – yep – a pigeon dropped on on his head. “I think they just got me,” said Andrade.
Missing woman mystery solved
A group of tourists spent hours Saturday night looking for a missing woman near Iceland’s Eldgja canyon, only to find her among the search party.
The group was travelling through Iceland on a tour bus and stopped near a volcanic canyon.
Soon, there was word of a missing passenger. The woman, who had changed clothes, didn’t recognise the description of herself and joined in the search.
But the search was called off at about 3am when it became clear the missing woman was, in fact, accounted for and searching for herself.
Spotter: Sarah Pinborough
To Eastern Carolina, where Victoria Frabutt, of Newport, has been charged with malicious castration. She is accused of using pair of rose pruners to separate James Frabutt from “his favorite part of himself”.
Having mentioned fornication as possible trigger for the purning, Mrs Frabutt was asked by 911 if there was much blood. “Oh no,”she replied. “Like I said, I couldn’t even get enough blood to make the sign of the cross, or write sinner, or anything like that.”
The bellend was located and put on ice. It may yet be reunited with the victim.
But the choicest cut from this story is not found in the icebox, rather in the name of the investigating officer. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you Major Jason Wank.
Did you know you a human being can raise a penguin living in the UK without “assigned gender roles? This is not a parody (I think):
Meanwhile…on the Island of Dr Moreau…
Hear about the boy “blinded by chips and sausages”? Or as the BBC’s headline puts it, a little more accurately: “Teenager ‘blind’ from living off crisps and chips.”
The tabloid’s headline conjures all kinds of images (see above). But the story is less bizarre. The 17-year-old has long-standing eating issues for which he sought help. And for that we can only feel sympathy. Things got so bad that the lack of nutrients affected his vision. His diet is a composite mix of: French fries, Pringles, white bread, the occasional slice of ham or a sausage.
Truth is that the sausage might well be the heartiest thing he ate. Sausage did not make the teenager blind.
The boy’s visit to the Bristol Eye Hospital is recorded in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Dr Denize Atan, who treated him at the hospital, notes: “His diet was essentially a portion of chips from the local fish and chip shop every day. He also used to snack on crisps – Pringles – and sometimes slices of white bread and occasional slices of ham, and not really any fruit and vegetables. He explained this as an aversion to certain textures of food that he really could not tolerate, and so chips and crisps were really the only types of food that he wanted and felt that he could eat. He had blind spots right in the middle of his vision. That means he can’t drive and would find it really difficult to read, watch TV or discern faces. He can walk around on his own though because he has got peripheral vision.”
Sausages are innocent. Mental health should not be mocked.
Things climate change is responsible for: angrier spiders. The Sun says this “maybe” true. As for labelling spiders angry in the fist place, well, who knew?
The paper picks up on a report in Nature Ecology & Evolution. Scientists at Canada’s McMaster University in Canada watched spiders before and after tropical storms along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States and Mexico. “It is tremendously important to understand the environmental impacts of these ‘black swan’ weather events on evolution and natural selection,” says Jonathan Pruitt, lead author of the study. “As sea levels rise, the incidence of tropical storms will only increase. Now more than ever we need to contend with what the ecological and evolutionary impacts of these storms will be for non-human animals.”
Aggressiveness of the spiders was measured in the speed, the number of attackers that respond to prey entering the web, how likely the female spiders were to cannibalize males and their own offspring, as well as how vulnerable they were to being infiltrated by predatory foreign spiders.
Maybe they’re, you know, hungrier?
Adds Pruit: “Tropical cyclones likely impact both of these stressors by altering the numbers of flying prey and increasing sun exposure from a more open canopy layer. Aggressiveness is passed down through generations in these colonies, from parent to daughter and is a major factor in their survival and ability to reproduce.”
And then the jump: “There is, therefore, a possibility that this could happen to more spider populations if weather around the world gets more extreme due to climate change.”
Back in 2013:
Pruitt performed personality tests on dozens of A. studiosus spiders and then arranged them into 90 couples consisting of an aggressive pair, a docile pair, or an aggressive spider matched with a docile one. The arachnids’ personalities are heritable, so a docile pair produces almost exclusively docile offspring, aggressive mates mainly make aggressive offspring, and mixed pairs produce a combination of docile and aggressive babies. After 1 week in the lab, each of the pairs had created small webs, or nests, on chicken wire within separate containers.
Pruitt returned to the Tennessee woods where he originally collected the spiders and wired each of the 90 nests onto trees and shrubs. For the next 5 years, he removed other species of spiders from the territory surrounding half of the webs. These 45 webs served as a control to test the hypothesis that disposition matters when hungry, solitary spiders abound in nature. The colonies in these well-maintained territories faired roughly the same as one another between 2007 and 2012, no matter the personality of their founders.
In contrast, colonies in the areas that were open to invaders differed from one another over time as solitary spiders began to infest the webs.
Colonies founded by aggressive spiders successfully fought the intruders off, but produced fewer offspring because of the continuous conflict.
Eventually the docile colonies died out.
The country’s fairground workers might wonder how fair it is that Norwich Cathedral has installed a full-size helter skelter ride in the nave. The cathedral says the ride is “a creative way to share the story of the Bible”, particularly Proverbs 32 – 7-9: ‘£2 per person per ride. One rider per mat. No refunds.’
Says one fairground worker: ‘At least you know our games are rigged. With this mob you only find out if they’re above board when you’re dead. i wish we’d have thought of it first.’
In other news: the central aisle of Rochester Cathedral has also been converted into a crazy golf course.
When in April an Israeli lander crashed on to the moon’s surface, it was carrying dehydrated tardigrades, aka ‘water bears’ – microscopic creatures with a unique protein that enables them to survive intense levels of radiation. These things can survive in space.
Aerospace Industries’ Beresheet lander was the first private spacecraft to land on the moon.
The mission was carrying a “lunar library”, an archive featuring 30 million pages of information, DNA samples (human), and thousands of tardigrades. And – get this – tardigrades that have spent up to 10 years in this dehydrated state have been revived.
At least know we know for certain: there is life on other planets.
Spotted driving at 91 mph on the 60 mph A361 North Devon Link road in 2011, Martin Cassini appeared at Barnstaple Magistrates Court. He deliverd his plea in a series of rhymed couplets:
Before you today stands a man in the dock
To whom this bleak chapter’s a terrible shock
Kind and aware on the road as a rule
He tripped up that day and transgressed a rule.
The outlandish speed was but a short burst
On a dual lane stretch to get up there first
To the top of the hill to avoid getting stuck
Down the single lane stretch by a slow moving truck.
If you averaged my speed over hillock and dale
You’d find it to be not at all yon the pale
The law’s quick to judge if you’re over the limit
No praise if you’re under — one sided, innit?
The design of the road is dubious at most
It’s the link for Pete’s sake from M5 to coast
Why only three lanes? There was good room for four
The vision was lacking, the carriageway’s poor.
The limit is 60 for one lane downhill
And 60 — the same — for two lanes uphill
Until this dark day my licence was clean
Too late for considering what might have been.
They say that speed kills, but throughout these lands
Inappropriate speed kills, or speed in the wrong hands
I wasn’t lacking due care and attention
Indeed I was using true care and attention
I was watching the road, not checking the speed
Could this be a safer, superior creed.
Result? A £175 fine. “I wanted to challenge one-size-fits-all regulation that ignores the spirit of the law, and at the same time recognise that I had disobeyed the letter,” he told the Daily Mail. But “Now I’m taking greater pains to follow the letter of the law.”
You’re gay because when you were in your mother’s womb she enjoyed anal sex. If she not did not enjoy anal sex, you’re straight. So reasons the Bishop of Morphou Neophytos. During an address at a primary school in Akaki, Cyprus, the bishop reportedly claimed:
“It happens during the parent’s intercourse or pregnancy. It follows an abnormal sexual act between the parents. To be more clear, anal sex. ‘[Saint Porfyrios] says that when the woman likes that, a desire is born, and then the desire is passed on to the child.”
Men play not part in the process.
To the Soho Vegan Food Market in Rupert Street, London, where Deonisy Khlebnikov, 22, and Gatis Lagzdins, 29, are biting chunks of raw, dead squirrel. One of them wears a T-shit carrying the message “Veganism = malnutrition”.
Fast forward a few months and at City of London Magistrates’ the men deny using disorderly behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress. Lagzdins is fined £400 plus costs and a surcharge, while Khlebnikov is fined £200 plus costs and a surcharge for.
Natalie Clines, from the CPS, goes on the record:
“Deonisy Khlebnikov and Gatis Lagzdins claimed they were against veganism and were raising awareness about the dangers of not eating meat when they publicly consumed raw squirrels. But by choosing to do this outside a vegan food stall and continuing with their disgusting and unnecessary behaviour despite requests to stop, including from a parent whose child was upset by their actions, the prosecution was able to demonstrate that they had planned and intended to cause distress to the public. Their pre-meditated actions caused significant distress to members of the public, including young children.”
There’s a time and a place for eating squirrels, especially the invasive grey ones. The BBC has included recipes for squirrel on its website. An enthusiast “walked us through all the steps involved in hunting, cleaning and transforming a North American grey squirrel into a delicious stew”. Tree rat a la mode.
The 35-year-old British man was riding a moped when he crashed. Injuries to his genitals caused a ‘Grade IV’ erection that lasted for nine days – who knew these things were graded? Well, the knob-ometer is officially called the ‘Erection Hardness Score’ and it goes thus:
0 – Penis does not enlarge.
· 1 – Penis is larger, but not hard.
· 2 – Penis is hard, but not hard enough for penetration.
· 3 – Penis is hard enough for penetration, but not completely hard.
· 4 – Penis is completely hard and fully rigid.
The man was not overly affected by his persistent boner and complained only of “difficulty in walking”. But once his moped is back from the garage, that should be less of an issue.
Like his ride, he’s now ok.
Spotter: The Journal of Case Reports in Urology.
In 1971, Annette Messager was invited to participate in a show at Galerie Germain in Paris. She should come up with something to do with wool. She made a lamb’s wool jumper for a dead sparrow.
I found my voice as an artist when I stepped on a dead sparrow on a street in Paris in 1971. I didn’t know why, but I was sure this sparrow was important because it was something very fragile that was near me and my life. Like the people I love, these small birds were always around me, yet they remained strange and mysterious. So I picked up the sparrow, took it home and knit a wool wrap for it. Why? I can’t say. You want to do something and don’t know why – all you know is that you have no choice, that it’s a necessity.”
One dead sparrow in a hand-knitted jumper became part of a collection that the finder and artist Annette Messager in 1972 called ‘Les Pensionnaires’ (‘The Residents’).
We’re looking for aliens where where are aliens. Show us the aliens:
The clearly tongue-in-cheek Facebook event page is titled “Storm Area 51. They Can’t Stop All of Us” and states “We can run faster than other bullets.”
It’s inviting users from around the world to join a “Naruto run” into the area. That’s a Japanese Manga-inspired running style featuring arms outstretched backwards and heads forward.
“We will all meet up at the Area 51 Alien Center tourist attraction and coordinate our entry,” according to the event organizer.
But some social media users expressed concerns.
“Folks, bad news,” Facebook user Jen Petrilli, posted on the event’s discussion page. “This event is planned for September 20th. While I love this planning time, this gives them a lot of time to move the aliens out of Area 51. If we want to get our extraterrestrial pals into safe and loving arms, this needs to ASAP. Love, A friend to the aliens.”
The aliens will be ready and waiting.
Missing a step on the way down is jarring; missing a step on the way up is strange and painful if you hit your ankles and shins. In this video we see people ascending a set of subway stairs in Brooklyn, NYC. One of the steps at the 36 Street subway station in Sunset Park is a tiny bit higher than the others, something that causes many walkers to trip on it.
It’s odd how quickly humans sense patterns and adapt to them. We get into rhythm. There’s no need to look at the steps. We think we know what’s coming. Odder still how an anomaly can throw the whole process.
There’s a clear link between your walking speed and your ability to climb stairs. No one flight of steps suits everyone.
The body of a Kenya flight ‘stowaway’ has been “found” in a garden in Clapham, south London. The man fell off a Kenya Airways flight from Nairobi. The BBC says the “force of the body falling” dented paving slabs. To say nothing for the impact of the body landing on the patio.
“If it had been two seconds later,” says an eyewitness, “he would have landed on the common where there were hundreds of people – my kids were in the garden 15 minutes before [he fell]. I spoke to Heathrow. They said this happens once every five years.” In 2024, it might be best to remain indoors.
Thoughts, of course, are with the dead man, someone desperate enough to clamber inside the landing gear of a large commercial jet and take his chances. Although maybe he was already dead and someone else stowed him? Whatever the background, the tabloids keep things in perspective.
The Mail warns owners of £2m homes that immigrants might be targeting their properties:
The Sun warns sunbathers that there’s something worse than perverts with camera drones:
The man has yet to be identified.
America really is another country. Having only recently discovered bribing elite colleges to accept children of the rich and famous was illegal – I thought it was the done thing; and aren’t the rich just college donors-in-waiting? – we today learn that dogs are only allowed to ride the NYC Subway if they fit in a bag, Tupperware pot or coffin.
The rule states: “No person may bring any animal on or into any conveyance or facility unless enclosed in a container.” The container is, presumably, less to keep your dog box-fresh than to prevent the pet from fouling the carriage, causing a nuisance or getting lost.
This man put his big dog in a small bag and attempted to board the train.
See that image above? That is a Supermassive Black Hole. It is a photograph from the edge of everything. The single picture of a circle of fire was produced by synchronised radio telescopes around the world. We can’t see the hole. But we can see the stuff around it. Everything in the hole is gone. Where? Why?
The National Science Foundation explains what it is we are and are not looking at:
So how were scientists able to “see” the supermassive black hole at the center of the M87 galaxy 53 million light years away? …
It is still impossible to image the actual black hole (again, that intense gravity let’s nothing escape) so the data being collected is light from the material around the event horizon of the object — the “point of no return” of a black hole. What we are seeing is truly the silhouette of a black hole.
This is what it is like to stare directly into the void.
There’s black and there’s supermassive blackhole black. Where space leads expects fashion to follow.