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The Weird Week ending December 14

Blitzen Held Hostage

Someone has stolen a decorative reindeer from outside florist Christine Small's shop in England, and left a ransom note demanding £56.60 for Blitzen's return! A threatening phone call followed. A taxi driver returned the reindeer a few hours later, saying he had found it, but it was stolen again within minutes. Police are looking into the matter.

Glocat.pngGlow-in-the-Dark Kitties

South Korean scientists have produced cloned cats that produce RFP (Red Fluorescent Protein). The two Turkish Angoras glow in the dark when exposed to ultraviolet rays. This should make walking to the bathroom in the middle of the night a bit easier.

Man Drinks Two Pints of Vodka at Airport

A 64-year-old man trying to avoid airport security regulations banning liquids was told he would have to pay a fee to ship his vodka or throw it out. Instead, he quickly drank the quart he was bringing home from vacation! He was taken to a clinic to be treated for alcohol poisoning, and is expected to go home in a few days.

Coming Soon: Spider Web Clothing

Researchers in Tokyo have injected spider genes into silkworms so they will spin cocoons made of spider web. The strong material produced may replace nylon as well as silk in clothing and other items.

110_tulipisland.jpgDutch Plan to Build Tulip-Shaped Island

The government of The Netherlands is considering a barrier island to fight overcrowding and hold back the rising sea. The tulip shape is one proposed design that may give mapmakers fits.

Teacher Calls Police Over Guns"˜N'Roses Song

A teenage school custodian and two friends were playing around with the school's public address system, thinking they were alone in the building. A teacher working after hours heard the custodian singing "Welcome to the Jungle", which contains the line, "You're gonna die." She felt threatened, barricaded herself in a room, and called the police. Officers found the three teenagers and straightened the story out. As a state policeman said, "These things happen."

Cat Comes Home with Snake Around Neck

Reptile Rescue workers in New Zealand were called to unwind the deadly copperhead from Jelly's neck. After veterinary treatment, he is expected to recover from a bite and is anxious to resume the eight lives he has left.

Space Shuttle Atlantis 180_spidershuttle.jpgAttacked by Giant Spider

The videotape from NASA clearly shows the arachnid approaching and overpowering the shuttle as it sits on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral. The next launch of the Atlantis has been postponed until February.

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Animals
Bizarre New Species of Crabs and a Giant Sea Cockroach Discovered in Waters Off Indonesia
One known species of isopod, or "giant sea cockroach"
One known species of isopod, or "giant sea cockroach"
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A crab with green googly eyes, another with "ears" resembling peanuts, and a species of giant sea cockroach are among the dozen new kinds of crustaceans discovered by scientists in the waters off Indonesia, Channel News Asia reports.

These finds are the result of a two-week expedition by Indonesian and Singaporean scientists with the South Java Deep Sea Biodiversity Expedition (SJADES 2018), which involved exploring deep waters in the Sunda Strait (the waterway separating the islands of Sumatra and Java in Southeast Asia) and the Indian Ocean. Using trawls, dredges, and other tools, researchers brought a huge variety of deep-sea life to the surface—some species for the very first time.

"The world down there is an alien world," Peter Ng, chief scientist of the expedition, told Channel News Asia. "You have waters that go down more than 2000 to 3000 meters [9800 feet], and we do not know … the animal life that's at the bottom."

The giant sea cockroach—technically a giant isopod, also nicknamed a Darth Vader isopod—is a new species in the genus Bathynomus, measuring almost a foot long and found more than 4000 feet deep. The isopods are occasionally seen on the ocean floor, where they scuttle around scavenging for dead fish and other animals. This marked the first time the genus has ever been recorded in Indonesia.

Another find is a spider crab nicknamed Big Ears, though it doesn't actually have ears—its peanut-shaped plates are used to protect the crab's eyes.

More than 800 species were collected during the expedition, accounting for 12,000 individual animals. Researchers say it will take up to two years to study all of them. In addition to the 12 species that are completely new to science, 40 were seen for the first time in Indonesia. Creatures that the scientists dubbed a chain-saw lobster, an ice cream cone worm, and a cock-eyed squid were among some of the rarer finds.

A "Chain-Saw Lobster"
Nicknamed the "Chain-Saw Lobster," this creature is a rare blind lobster, found only in the deep seas.

Researchers took to the giant sea cockroach quickly, with some of the crew members reportedly calling it “cute” and cradling it like a baby. Check out Channel News Asia Insider's video below for more insight into their creepy finds.

[h/t Channel News Asia]

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Weird
The Mysterious Case of the Severed Feet in British Columbia
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While walking on the beach, many people look out for a number of things: Shells, buried treasure, crabs, and dolphins among them. But if you’re on a beach in British Columbia, you might want to keep an eye out for something a little more sinister—about 15 severed feet have washed up on the shores there in the past few years. The latest was found on May 6, wedged in a mass of logs on Gabriola Island, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The feet have been surprising unlucky British Columbians for over a decade. The first appeared back in 2007 on Jedediah Island; it was eventually matched to a deceased man whose family declined to provide additional information. Bizarre, but not particularly alarming—until another one showed up on Gabriola Island less than a month later. More feet followed, and though some were matched to missing persons, most remained anonymous (feet, unfortunately, don’t contain much identifying information). Instead, police focused on the fact that each foot was encased in a running shoe—though sizes, genders, and brands differed.

This seems like a real-life episode of The X-Files, but it turns out there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for the severed feet: They’re not really “severed,” which would indicate cutting or slicing, at all. According to scientists who tested the theory, the feet likely belong to suicide, drowning, or plane crash victims. It’s common for decomposing bodies to come apart at the joint, making it natural for the foot to come apart from the leg. But if that’s the case, wouldn’t hands be similarly susceptible to washing up on beaches? Nope, that’s where the shoes come in.

While the rest of the body naturally decomposes in water, feet are surprisingly well protected inside the rubber and fabric of a shoe. The soles can be pretty buoyant, and sometimes air pockets get trapped inside the shoe, making it float to the surface. Most of the “severed” feet have been clad in jogging shoes such as Nikes and Pumas, but at least one case involves a hiking boot. In that instance, the boot (and foot) was matched to a man who went missing while fishing more than 25 years ago. The most recent case also involves a hiking boot.

That leaves the question: Why British Columbia? According to Richard Thompson, an oceanographer with the federal Institute of Ocean Sciences, it’s connected to ocean current. “There’s a lot of recirculation in the region; we’re working here with a semi-enclosed basin. Fraser River, False Creek, Burrard Inlet—all those regions around there are somewhat semi-enclosed. The tidal currents and the winds can keep things that are floating recirculating in the system." Several feet have also been found further south, in Washington state, which shares a network of coastal waterways with British Columbia.

Others aren’t so quick to accept this scientific analysis, however. Criminal lawyer and crime author Michael Slade still wonders if a serial killer is afoot. "We also have to consider that this could be a serial killer," he said. "Somebody who right now is underneath the radar. That has to be on the table."

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