The Weird Week in Review

Alfie the Canine Arsonist

A hungry dog in Llanfairfechan, Wales set fire to a home and caused £6,000 in damage. Paul Gregson, his wife, and two sons escaped the burning house just after midnight Tuesday. Alfie apparently was looking for something to eat when he jumped on the stove and turned on a burner. A chip fryer on top heated up and started the fire. Smoke alarms woke the family up and they were able to evacuate the home. Three-year-old Alfie is a flat-coated retriever, a breed Gregson says is "slow to mature".

Thief Takes Van with Lion Inside

A thief in Wuppertal, Germany made off with a Mercedes Transporter owned by Circus Probst, apparently unaware that a lion was in the back. The van was recovered Wednesday morning with Caesar still inside. It is not yet known whether the presence of the lion led to vehicle being crashed and abandoned. It was found with the motor still running. Police who had the van towed away were also unaware of the lion in the back. Caesar was finally returned to the circus about twelve hours after the theft, and is reported to be fine.

25 Middle-school Students Arrested in Food Fight

A food fight broke out last Thursday at the Calumet middle school campus of Perspectives Charter Schools in Chicago. A campus police officer called for backup and Chicago police responded. By the end of the day, 25 students aged 11 to 15 were arrested and taken to jail for reckless conduct. The students were released to their parents and suspended from school for two days. Parents are questioning the decision to arrest the children. Erica Russell, the mother of two girls who were arrested, said:

"I was all for some other kind of punishment, but not jail. Who hasn't had a food fight?"

Shark Gives Shark Caesarean Section

150_SharkA shark at Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World in New Zealand was carrying four baby sharks when she was bitten into by another shark. The young were released into the water from the hole in her abdomen. Staff at the aquarium had no idea the shark was pregnant, and said the attack probably saved the baby sharks' lives. If they had been born naturally in the same tank, stingrays and other adult sharks would have most likely eaten the babies. In this case, the newborns were quickly captured and isolated. They will eventually be released into the wild. The mother shark survived the incident.

Burglar Falls Asleep While Picking Lock

An unnamed 35-year-old man was found sound asleep at the entrance to a shopping center in Perth, Australia. He had a lock-breaking wire in his hand. Keys found on the man fit a nearby car that contained drugs stolen from a pharmacy. Samuel Dinnison of the Perth police department said he apparently fell asleep while picking the lock.

"He obviously had a long night, whatever he was doing, and that got the better of him," Dinnison said.

Grizzly Bear Eats Airplane

pipercubAn unnamed Alaskan bush pilot went on a fishing trip and neglected to wash down his plane afterward. The 1958 Piper Cub was just too much temptation for a passing grizzly bear to bear. The bear tore apart the wood-and-fabric plane looking for the fish he smelled, to the point of chewing on the tires! When the pilot returned to find the plane in tatters, he radioed for supplies to repair the plane: duct tape, cellophane, and two tires. He wrapped the plane in duct tape and flew home. The story includes a picture of the plane after repair.

Wedding Ring Found in Ten Tons of Trash

Bridget Pericolo put her wedding ring in a disposable cup, which no one should ever do. Her husband Angelo threw the cup in the trash. By the time the couple realized their mistake, the trash had been picked up by the Parsippany, New Jersey sanitation crew. The Pericolos, who have been married for 55 years, contacted the supervisor, who told them to go to the dump. Three sanitation workers sifted through garbage estimated to weigh about ten tons until they found the Pericolo's trash bag, with the ring inside.

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"

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]

The Mysterious Case of the Severed Feet in British Columbia

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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