Sneak Peek #4: Butterflies on the Black Market

One of the stranger stories in the new Jan/Feb issue -- just days away from hitting newsstands! -- is Ethan Trex's question and answer piece on the underground world of exotic animal smuggling. The piece answers all sorts of thorny questions about this illicit billion dollar industry, including who's buying and selling butterflies and baby gorillas. And while the entire story is fascinating, my favorite part is the bit below:

So, what's the best way to smuggle a monkey through an airport?

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In your pants, of course! But it doesn't always work out. Just ask the guy who tried to smuggle two pygmy monkeys into Los Angeles in 2002. He discreetly stuffed them into his underwear and traveled for more than 18 hours on a flight from Thailand. After the plane landed in LAX, his traveling companion blew their cover in customs, when several birds of paradise burst out of his suitcase and flew around the airport. After that, they were pretty much busted. More recently, another smuggler was caught hiding a monkey under his hat on a flight to Peru, and a female smuggler was caught strapping a monkey to her belly and pretending she was pregnant on her way from Thailand.

Yet, for some reason, stuffing animals in one's trousers seems to be the favorite tactic of smugglers; in 1995, two men were arrested at the Mexican border after customs officials noticed that the bulges in their pants were moving. It turns out that the slithering bumps were actually pantyhose filled with over a dozen snakes.
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The other part of the piece I absolutely love is the bit on the world's most dangerous butterfly poacher, and the story of the undercover agent who took him down. If you're interested, make our editors happy and check out a copy on the newsstand. Better yet, pair the subscription with a brand new mental_floss T-shirt and save yourself some money. Click here for details.

Tips For Baking Perfect Cookies

Perfect cookies are within your grasp. Just grab your measuring cups and get started. Special thanks to the Institute of Culinary Education.

Netflix's Most-Binged Shows of 2017, Ranked

Netflix might know your TV habits better than you do. Recently, the entertainment company's normally tight-lipped number-crunchers looked at user data collected between November 1, 2016 and November 1, 2017 to see which series people were powering through and which ones they were digesting more slowly. By analyzing members’ average daily viewing habits, they were able to determine which programs were more likely to be “binged” (or watched for more than two hours per day) and which were more often “savored” (or watched for less than two hours per day) by viewers.

They found that the highest number of Netflix bingers glutted themselves on the true crime parody American Vandal, followed by the Brazilian sci-fi series 3%, and the drama-mystery 13 Reasons Why. Other shows that had viewers glued to the couch in 2017 included Anne with an E, the Canadian series based on L. M. Montgomery's 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables, and the live-action Archie comics-inspired Riverdale.

In contrast, TV shows that viewers enjoyed more slowly included the Emmy-winning drama The Crown, followed by Big Mouth, Neo Yokio, A Series of Unfortunate Events, GLOW, Friends from College, and Ozark.

There's a dark side to this data, though: While the company isn't around to judge your sweatpants and the chip crumbs stuck to your couch, Netflix is privy to even your most embarrassing viewing habits. The company recently used this info to publicly call out a small group of users who turned their binges into full-fledged benders:

Oh, and if you're the one person in Antarctica binging Shameless, the streaming giant just outed you, too.

Netflix broke down their full findings in the infographic below and, Big Brother vibes aside, the data is pretty fascinating. It even includes survey data on which shows prompted viewers to “Netflix cheat” on their significant others and which shows were enjoyed by the entire family.

Netflix infographic "The Year in Bingeing"


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