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The Weird Week in Review

Lonely Pig in Quarantine

Due to fear of swine flu, Afghanistan has quarantined its pig. Yes, the nation's only pig, normally on display with other exotic wildlife at the Kabul Zoo. In accord with Muslim dietary restrictions, pork and pork products are illegal in Afghanistan. Some visitors to the zoo expressed concern that the zoo pig could spread the new strain of swine flu.

"For now the pig is under quarantine, we built it a room because of swine influenza," Aziz Gul Saqib, director of Kabul Zoo, told Reuters. "We've done this because people are worried about getting the flu."

Runner Expected to Finish Marathon in 13 Days

Army Major Phil Packer began the London Marathon when everyone else did, but his doctor will only allow him to walk two miles a day, so he is expected to finish on Saturday, 13 days after starting the race. Last year Packer was seriously injured in Iraq and was told he probably would never walk again. However, he is walking the marathon on crutches to raise money for Help for Heroes, a British organization that supports wounded veterans. Packer's goal is to raise £1 million; he has so far raised over half the amount.

Speed Camera Boss Banned for Speeding

Tom Riall, a divisional chief executive at Serco, was banned from driving for six months by a court in London after a camera recorded him driving at 103 miles per hour in a 70 mph zone. Riall heads the Home Affairs division of Serco, the company that has installed 4,500 speed cameras to date in Britain.

Man Caught with Songbirds in Pants

150_smuggledbirds.jpgCustoms agents at the Los Angeles International Airport noticed bird droppings and feathers on 46-year-old Sony Dong's shoes. They discovered that Dong had 14 Asian songbirds hidden in his pants legs. Dong said that he had purchased the bul-buls, thrushes, and magpies robins in Vietnam for $50 each and could sell them for several hundred dollars apiece. Another California man, 34-year-old Duc Le, was arrested in the bird smuggling operation after a search at his home revealed 51 more songbirds. The birds were placed in quarantine.

It Was An Accident

A 30-year-old woman in China was performing oral sex on her boss in a parked car when a van crashed into their vehicle. The impact caused the secretary to bite off the man's penis! Emergency services were called by an investigator who had been following the couple. The investigator was hired by the secretary's husband because he suspected her of being unfaithful. The woman took the severed organ to the hospital, but it was not reported whether it was reattached.

Beetle Named for Stephen Colbert

150colberti2.jpgHumorist Stephen Colbert had expressed a wish to have a species named after him, specifically "something cooler than a spider." Insect researchers Quentin Wheeler of Arizona State University and Kelly Miller from the University of New Mexico have granted his wish and named a newly identified beetle Agaporomorphus colberti in his honor. There will plenty more beetles to be named, as there are an estimated 1.5 million species yet to be studied.

Giant Spiders Invade Outback Town

Bowen, Australia is seeing in influx of eastern tarantulas, also known as "bird-eating spiders". Dozens of spiders have crawled out of gardens and have made their way into public areas of the town. These spiders grow up to 2.4 inches long with a leg span of over six inches! Their bite can kill a dog or make a human very sick.

Audy Geiszler, who runs a local pest control service, caught one this week that more than covered his hand after he killed it.

"I think I'm going to mount this one in acrylic to show people how big it is. It'll make a great paperweight."

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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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