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The Weird Week in Review

Flaming Pet Rat Starts Fire

David Stanifer and his friends had tied a ribbon and some bells to a pet rat named Amelia Earhart at his home in Titusville, Florida. He didn't have scissors, so he used a lighter to cut the ribbon and release the rat, who began running around the garage. The flaming ribbon began several small fires that grew out of control. Over a dozen firefighters responded to the blazing home, which suffered $30,000 in damage. The rat was unharmed.

Practical Joke Leaves Men with Face Tattoos

A village chief in Indonesia passed along a message to two men that government intelligence jobs were waiting for them,  but they would first have to get their faces tattooed with dragons. He later checked with a government representative and found the message to be a hoax, but only after 30-year-old Nanang and 40-year-old Bambang had their faces permanently inked. The two men have filed a police report. It was the third such prank pulled in Indonesia recently.

Blood Alcohol Test For A Horse

Police in LeleÅŸti, Romania responded to a call about a horse and wagon accident that resulted in the death of an 86-year-old villager. The wagon ran into him while he was sitting in front of his home. Witnesses reported the accident was due to the horse acting abnormally, so a veterinarian was called to draw blood from the animal for a blood alcohol test! The results have not been reported.

Graffiti Wall Vandalized

150graffitiwall.jpgGovernment councils in the area of Wadebridge, Cornwall, England built a 6-foot tall, 30-foot long concrete wall for young artists to practice their graffiti skills. The project was due to open on October 31st, but an unknown local jumped the gun by scrawling a protest across the wall. The graffiti reads. "I paid my tax + all I got was this lousy wall!!" The irony of the situation is that most of the wall's cost was subsidized by businesses and organizations, but the investigation and repair will be paid for with government funds.

Paraglider Teaches Eagle to Fly

French falconer Jacque Olivia Travail spent a year and a half training an American Bald Eagle to fly. The final exam came last week when the two soared over Europe's highest mountain, Mont Blanc together, Travail paragliding as Shercane the eagle flew on his own for 40 minutes. The 14-year-old eagle never strayed far from Travail.

The falconer said it was hard work for Shercane because the air is so thin up there, "but he enjoyed and we both had a great time together."

Man Eats 15-Pound Hamburger

150burger.jpgOn Monday, 21-year-old Brad Sciullo became the first person ever to finish off the Beer Barrel Belly Bruiser offered by Denny's Beer Barrel Pub in Clearfield, Pennsylvania. The burger's meat weighs 15 pounds, and the total with bun and fixings weighs over 20 pounds! By finishing the burger in the 5-hour time limit, Sciullo won $400 and a t-shirt.

Rabbit Invasion Shuts Down Mandela Museum

The prison offshore from Cape Town, South Africa where Nelson Mandela spent 27 years is now the Robben Island museum. The popular tourist attraction will be temporarily closed in November due to an invasion of rabbits!

"The current population is so large that it threatens to permanently damage the island's sensitive vegetation, and poses a serious threat to other fauna species," Seelan Naidoo, the museum's acting chief executive said in a statement.

A combination of culling and sterilization will be used to bring the rabbit population down to a manageable level.

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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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