Sunday, March 14, 2010


Census 2010 3/13/10 Reader Chase wrote to say that 10 questions are more than enough, considering how "confidential" census data has been used against certain races in the past - and could perfectly legally be used again under the Patriot Act.

Elephant multiple and miracle births 3/12/10 A woman watching a webcam of a rhinocerous at a Scottish zoo alerted the staff that she was giving birth so that they could witness the rare event.

Mexican jumping beans 3/6/10 Friend Sheila reports, "My cousin actually owned a Mexican jumping bean company. One month they all died. He now sells shampoo."

Napoleon's hair 3/5/10 A New Zealand antiques dealer commented that he owns a lock of Napoleon's hair.

Treasure trove 3/1/10 Coins from the time of Alexander the Great have been found in Syria.

Salt: The good, the bad, and the tasty 2/21/10 "My favorite flavoring," writes my friend Sheila. "We are nothing without it." She recommends the book Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky. Still curious about salt, I found a video of salt harvesting, a slideshow of gourmet salts, and a glossary of fine sea salt and artisan salt. And here is an article assessing the debate about the consequences of salt in the diet.

Praying mantis 2/19/10 Reader Cynthia liked Sheila's anecdote and said, "Good story, felt like I was there."

Kumbh mela 2/17/10 Indian pilgrims who shave their heads as a sacrifice do not feel exploited that their hair then becomes hair extensions in the West.

Mother Cabrini 2/15/10 Melissa Johnson Williams, practicing embalmer and executive director of the American Society of Embalmers, has done some checking and found that the body of Mother Cabrini is not an incorrupt mummy, but a wax reproduction serving as an "urn" (which I take to mean containing her bones or other remains).

Ironic deaths 2/4/10 A bullet intended to be fired in celebration of a wedding in New Delhi, India, accidentally hit and killed the groom. Two Russian men were boiled to death after taking a sauna and diving into what was supposed to be a cold plunge pool.

Vivisection 1/22/10 Lawyer Antoine Goetschel specializes in defending animals.

Ancient Egyptian finds
1/20/10 The first DNA study on a royal mummy has found that King Tutankhamun had malaria. The burial chamber of one Ancient Egyptian queen has been unearthed in Cairo and another in Saqqara.

Kite-fighting 1/19/10 Pakistan's highest court has rejected a petition to lift the ban on the annual kite festival.

Views from space 1/11/10 A meteorite that fell to earth 40 years ago has been found to contain the "building blocks of life."

Good cove, bad cove 1/6/10 "The Cove" won an Oscar. While the Japanese slaughter dolphins and whales for food, thousands of Thais attend a funeral for a dead whale. Meanwhile, another funeral had to be held - for Dawn Brancheau, a trainer at SeaWorld in Florida with 16 years' experience who was drowned by a killer whale that had killed 2 people in the past.

Child heroes 12/23/09 A California teenager pulled a mother and her 2 young children out of her car stuck on the railroad tracks 90 seconds before they were hit by a train. A 5-year-old in Indiana saves her father's life by calling 911.

Nipple shields 12/20/09 Lactation consultant Freda Rosenfeld is known as the "breast whisperer."

Otis elevator, part 2 12/13/09 The BBC assesses the safety of elevators in the wake of a fatal accident in London.

Airborne fish 11/29/09 It rained fish in Australia.

More white tigers 11/24/09 A tiger farm in China where the occupants are allowed to die so their bones can be made into wine.

Cloaca 11/17/09 Wim Delvoye, the artist who created the Cloaca machine, is also responsible for a sculpture that has stirred up much controversy on the campus of the Herron School of Art in Indianapolis.

Taxidermy furniture 11/16/09 Here is more detail about the "gatorbike" featured earlier in a follow-up to this post.

Circus animals on the lam 11/13/09 A woman in Arkansas came home to find her house full of cows. A python was stolen from a petting zoo in Florida. A zoo in Japan carries out a bi-annual preparedness drill in which one employee is designated to be the escaped tiger. The disappearance of a taxidermied gorilla from a British museum 50 years ago has just been revealed as a college prank. A zebra broke loose from the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Atlanta, but damaged his hooves and later had to be euthanized. An emu also died after it was captured running down a Texas highway. A gorilla wandered away at the Dallas Zoo.

Camino del Rey 11/11/09 Here's an equally scary motorbike path, although I've been unable to determine its location.

Glasswing butterflies 10/13/09 Butterflies that developed wing-color mimicry as a defense mechanism also developed UV colors and vision so that they could find each other and mate.
Theodore Roosevelt, naturalist 10/8/09 Someone has stolen a 15" walrus tusk from a fireplace mantel in Theodore Roosevelt's home on Long Island.

Dinosaur eggs 10/3/09 The dinosaurs on an island in Romania were "dwarfs." The "missing link" known as Ida proves not to be a human ancestor. The world's oldest writing has been found on 60,000-year-old ostrich eggshells. The oldest known dinosaur relative has been discovered in Africa. Scientists in India have excavated the almost complete skeleton of a prehistoric snake that preyed on baby dinosaurs. And a British grandfather has found a dinosaur bone in his garden.

Gossamer 9/27/09 A creepy video of a female wolf spider carrying her babies on her back. A new water-repellent material has been patterned on spider hairs.

Grave and golem 9/3/09 The psychiatric diagnosis of the golem.

Castaways, real and imagined 8/26/09 A farmer in China makes his home in a tree.

Messel pit 8/24/09 An ancient primate fossil has been discovered in the Messel pit. The ancient fossil of a crocodile with armadillo-like body armor (reconstruction above) has been discovered in Brazil. A fossil of a new species of dinosaur has been found in Utah. A giant horned crocodile excavated in Africa would have preyed on human ancestors.

Jaws in 1916 8/8/09 A woman in Australia was bitten fighting off an attacking shark. Researchers have discerned that the killer whale would be the victor in a fight with a great white shark.

Capitol cornerstone 7/26/09 If you have an hour, I recommend this radio broadcast that tells the melancholy true story of house abandoned by a family and entered decades later as a sort of time capsule by the narrator, who was 11 years old at the time.

Creative cremains 7/24/09 Tasha Tudor's $2 million estate is in probate, so her ashes were divided up between her children.

Metrology 7/18/09 Here is a photo of one of the most perfect spheres ever created by humans.

Elusive animals 6/4/09 The Sundaland clouded leopard, only recognized as a distinct species 3 years ago, has been caught on film.

Vultures 5/4/09 A pair of California condors have built the first condor nest in the Pinnacles in more than 100 years. Authorities in Tennessee are hanging dead vultures from trees to drive the living ones off.

Bears in the news 4/24/09 Grizzly bears are encroaching on polar bear territory. A woman's fingers were bitten off by a bear in a Wisconsin zoo.

Ocean garbage dump 4/22/09 An accumulation of trash in the North Atlantic is being compared to the Pacific garbage dump.

Frozen fog 3/27/09 The spectacular sight of a frozen waterfall in Estonia.

Centenarians - and then some 3/26/09 John Babcock, Canada's last known World War I veteran, has died at the age of 109. A 101-year-old Chinese woman has grown a horn. The oldest person in the U.S., 114-year-old Mary Josephine Ray of New Hampshire, has died. A British centenarian ascribes her longevity to drink and cigarettes.

Elephant and dragon 3/24/09 An elephant hired to be at a Hindu wedding ceremony went on a rampage and crushed 20 limousines. And an Indonesian park ranger has been saved from the jaws of a Komodo dragon.

Cave canem 3/9/09 "Pompeii-like" excavations are being carried out in India to reveal what life was like before and after a massive volcanic eruption 74,000 years ago.

Big bunny 2/24/09 Another very large rabbit.

Killer chimpanzees 2/17/09 Wild chimps in Senegal have been observed making and using spears to hunt other primates.

Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday 2/12/09 The Gettysburg Address recited by a 2-year-old. The ransomed body of the former president of Cyprus has been found.

Neglectful freezing deaths 2/4/09 Juanita Goggins, the first African-American woman elected to the South Carolina Legislature, has frozen to death in her home.

Disturbing decapitations 1/23/09 In a freak accident, an Australian woman's head was severed by flying metal thrown up by a lawn mower. A pet dog in South Africa came home carrying a human head. The 600-year-old skull of a beheaded pirate was stolen from a German museum. And Hustler has been denied access to pictures of the nude, decapitated body of Georgie murder victim Meredith Emerson.

Animal accidents 1/16/09 Biologists in California are analyzing roadkill to determine animal migration patterns.

Caves 1/15/09 Formations in a cave on a Spanish island have recorded changing sea levels with precision.

Custom of the sea 1/10/09 A list of 6 incredible coincidences, including the story of cabin boy Richard Parker.

Volcano videos 1/5/09 Two Russian volcanoes erupt side by side.

Birds and dogs 12/15/08 A chihuahua in California was snatched by an owl. Piglets are being carried away by hungry eagles in Iowa.

Octopus with attitude 11/26/08 The Atlantic longarm octopus can mimic a flounder.

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