Thursday, August 20, 2009


Mexican novelist Mario Bellatin wearing one of his designer prostheses.

I want to follow up on my posts, but the news items and comments are coming so fast and furious that I have opted to discontinue my time-consuming practice of many small illustrations in favor of the one I consider the best, so be sure to check all the links for associated photographs. Enjoy!

The narwhal 8/19/09 Here are some extraordinary images of an ocean photographer's encounter with a 50' humpback whale in the South Pacific.

Leonardo's lion 8/17/09 Relating to my post about Leonardo da Vinci's inventions is this Smithsonian slideshow of the instruments of discovery used and improved upon by Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), including another of my favorite words to say - the astrolabe.

Mona Lisa(s) 8/12/09 Among these replications of Leonardo da Vinci's iconic painting, I forgot to include the work of Scott Wade - Mona Lisa's image on a dirty window.

Victor Noir 8/10/09 Speaking of sex symbols, Marilyn Monroe can be your postmortem bunkmate. The woman whose husband's body is entombed above hers at Westwood Village Memorial Park in L.A. is moving his body and auctioning off the crypt on e-bay to settle her Beverly Hills mortgage. (Thanks to reader Elena for the link!)

Jaws in 1916 8/8/08 Thanks to reader Michael Keighery for this link to an Australian mystery from 1935. The Shark Arm Case followed 3 shark deaths off the coast of New South Wales. A 3.5M tiger shark was caught and put on live display at the Coogee Aquarium Baths. The visitors who flocked to see the man-killer were not disappointed - it disgorged a tattooed human arm. But the owner of the arm was the victim of a murder rather than the shark...

Eunuchs 8/7/09 In India, thousands of male members of a cult devoted to Radha dress as this female lover of Krishna, baffling religious leaders.

Stain 8/6/09 My former boss Jim Schaefer sent me this link to an incredible story and slideshow of photographs of Hiroshima taken by the Physical Damage Division of the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey and accidentally rediscovered in a pile of junk on a Watertown, Massachusetts, street. On this year's anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki, a piano that had survived Hiroshima was played at a performance in Tokyo.
Death worm and bloodworm 8/5/09 Follower Kent Schnake liked the worm post and recommended the film Dune. He also points out that the guinea worm and similar parasites common in Africa are - even though they don't spit acid and shoot lightning out of their ass - horrible in their own way.

Weird watercolors 8/1/09 This post mentions the painting Rembrandt did as a child. Here you can listen to a piece of music written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) at the age of 7 or 8.
Hummingbirds 7/28/09 Follower Megan McCabe said this post reminded her to tell me about the work of graffiti artist Dan Witz, who paints lifelike hummingbirds in public spaces.

Creative cremains 7/24/09 I heard from a reader who offers another creative alternative to stashing ashes in a columbarium - adhering a small portion of them to a photograph - an "ashprint," as she calls it on her blog Final Photograph. In other ashen news: Earlier this month, a man in Vershire, Vermont, borrowed a wheelbarrow, disinterred the cremated remains of his father, and brought them - along with the man's headstone - home with him, a crime punishable by a prison sentence of up to 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

Happy Father's Day! 6/21/09 In a follow-up to my Father's Day post, I referenced this story about fighting finches. I just learned that partridge-fighting is a popular gambling sport in Afghanistan.

Placing of rocks 6/20/09 I had not heard of the Durdle Door in Dorset, England, until I researched this post, but once seen, it is most recognizable. It has been used, however, to lure tourists to a resort in Dubai.

Bog bodies 6/19/09 Workers at Gilltown bog in Co. Kildare, Ireland, uncovered a 3,000-year-old oak barrel of butter. Museum director Padraig Clancy calls the Iron Age practice of sinking the butter in the bog "piseogary."

Obama likeness 6/5/09 A similarity to Michael Jackson is seen in this Egyptian statue at Chicago's Field Museum.

Elusive animals 6/4/09 Researchers have just discovered that the Tasman booby is not extinct after all - it has been masquerading as the masked booby for years!

Barnacle geese 5/30/09 A sea monster with writhing tentacles that washed up on shore in Wales turned out to be a seething mass of goose barnacles attached to a log!

Cave paintings at Lascaux 5/25/09 Archaeologists believe they have identified the earliest map - a 14,000-year-old representation of the area landscape found on a tablet in a Spanish cave.

Birds! 5/21/09 Like the goose flying upside-down in this post, here is a remarkable photo of an eagle (unsuccessfully) attacking a goose larger than itself in mid-air.

Mortsafes 5/20/09 My friends Valerie and Roger were vacationing in Scotland recently and send me this snapshot from one of the graveyards indicating how the caretakers have responded to a gravestone that apparently fell over on someone.

Species named after Stephen Colbert 5/8/09 Related to this post only because it's about a bug, here's a story about the discovery of the rarest insect on earth, not seen in 70 years - the 6" Lord Howe Island stick insect, also known as the "land lobster." The article was written by fan Dylan Thuras of Curious Expeditions and Atlas Obscura.

Bears in the news 4/24/09 There have been numerous stories in the news of bears being struck and killed by cars, but here is a more uplifting item (with video) of a bear that took a swim in a residential pool in San Dimas, California.

Robo-animals 4/9/09 A duck with a fractured leg that healed badly has been outfitted with a sandal. A Thai elephant that stepped on a landmine 10 years ago now has a prosthetic; here's another article about "Motola" with a few more photos. An elephant suffering from abscesses in an English zoo has received a pair of slippers. And a wetsuit has been tailored for a featherless penguin.

Flannery O'Connor 4/9/09 After roaming free for 6 weeks in the town in which I grew up - Springfield, Illinois - 2 peacocks have been reunited with their owner.
Taxidermy art 4/6/09 I recently made the on-line acquaintance of artist Lisa Wood - check out her wonderful website here.

Poisonous plants 3/30/09 A German supermarket has removed all bags of mixed salad after a customer found a poisonous weed called groundsel in with the greens.

Rosamond Purcell 3/22/09 I have attached this story to my post about Rosamond Purcell because she photographs such collections. Almost 300 rare tropical birds have been stolen from cabinets in the Natural History Museum in Tring, Hertsfordshire, England. Police believe the irreplaceable specimens may be ripped apart so their colorful feathers can be used to make jewelry and fishing lures.

Designer legs 3/15/09 Like amputee Aimee Mullins, who owns several pairs of designer legs, Mexican novelist Mario Bellatin has more than a dozen attachments for his prosthetic arm.

Seahorses and sea dragons 3/14/09 Researchers at the University of Zurich found that male seahorses choose the largest females as mates, which contradicts earlier assumptions that the females do the choosing.

Footprints 2/28/09 Paleontologists from the Natural History Museum in Basel, Switzerland, have discovered - halfway up a mountain in the Alps - the largest dinosaur footprints to be found to date in Europe. My Dad and stepmother Sarah recently happened on a dinosaur museum while traveling through Blanding, Utah, so I have uploaded them here.

Preserved in amber 2/24/09 A new species of an ancient gecko was found in the forest of Myanmar (Burma) preserved in amber in 2008. The amber preserved its toes, with their characteristic sticky hairs, and part of its tail. Here is another article about all of the new species discovered in the Himilayas.

Man on Wire 2/23/09 A priest dressed in traditional garb took part in a daredevil stunt in East Sussex, England, to raise money for charity - he walked a tightrope 80' in the air with no net and no training.

Corpse flower 1/30/09 I haven't specifically blogged about carnivorous plants, but here's a story too good to pass up: a newly discovered species of pitcher plant large enough to eat a rat!

Ancient animals 1/19/09 "Billy," a 110-year-old Galapagos tortoise, has finally mated with 47-year-old "Tammy" after spurning her advances for 15 years! Their 7 eggs are due to hatch in 8 to 12 weeks.

Follow-ups and followers 1/9/09 In the follow-up to my frozen reindeer post, I added the photo of the moose that got strung up on a telephone pole. In the weird news recently was the story of a live ram that was rescued from a telephone pole in Norway when his horn got caught and he abseiled down the wire!

Internal decapitation 12/28/08 Chris Stewart, a 14-year-old boy from Hampshire, England, is the first person to completely recover from (and only the 6th to survive) having his skull separated from his spine, and is back on the track - but in a go-kart rather than a racecar.

Albinos 11/18/08 More albino animals: A porcupine named "Blondie" lives with her sister at the London Zoo. A rare albino swallow made an appearance in Aberdeenshire, England.

Fatal tiger maulings 11/10/08 The 2 brothers who survived the Christmas Day 2007 tiger attack described in this post were arrested earlier this month on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and giving false identification to police after they were stopped when swerving on the highway and found with an open bottle of vodka in the car.

Zeppelin 10/26/09 Here is a great slideshow of the construction and destruction of the dirigible Hindenburg.

Amputation 10/19/08 Riam Dean of London has won an employment suit against Abercrombie & Fitch. The 22-year-old amputee had been taken off the sales floor and made to work in the stockroom because her prosthetic arm did not meet with the store's image.

Alive! 9/25/09 The survivors of the plane crash in the Andes, whose survival cannibalism was documented in books and films, are urging fellow Uruguayans to sign up for a government-run organ donation program.
Phew, I've got to do my follow-ups more often...

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