CLOSE

The Weird Week in Review

Viagra Beer

To commemorate the royal wedding next week, Brewdog is selling a limited edition run of 1,000 bottles of Royal Virility Performance, a specially brewed beer that contains Viagra, which is legal in the UK. It also contains chocolate, Horny Goat Weed and "a healthy dose of sarcasm." One bottle will cost you £10 plus delivery charges; may not be available in your area.

No More Super Hero Capes for the Unemployed

Workforce Central Florida initiated a campaign they called “Cape-A-Bility Challenge” to reach unemployed workers. They actually bought 6,000 super hero capes to hand out to potential job-seekers at a cost of $14,000, some of which was federal money. Backlash began immediately, as some called the campaign demeaning and others called it a waste of money. Workforce Central Florida Vice President Kimberly Sullivan announced the end of the campaign and apologized for offending anyone, but never went as far as to say the idea was a mistake. She said the capes helped the organization reach a lot of people who needed work.

Frogs in Buckets Poached for Legs

In the province of Carinthia, Austria, conservation volunteers help frogs to cross a busy highway. The frogs are funneled into a series of buckets on the side of the highway, and are collected once a day to be taken safely across. But recently, someone has been helping themselves to the frogs waiting in the buckets -for their legs. Officials believe the perpetrators are Italian, as frog legs are a delicacy in Italy. If caught, the frog poachers could face fines up to 3,600 euros ($5,149).

Documents Reveal J. Edgar Hoover's interest in UFOs

The FBI has launched a website with around 2,000 historical documents, some of which concern UFOs. In 1947, the FBI issued this notice to its offices:

"Flying Discs -- The Bureau, at the request of the Army Air Forces Intelligence, has agreed to cooperate in the investigation of flying discs. ... You should investigate each instance which is brought to your attention of a sighting of a flying disc in order to ascertain whether or not it is a bona fide sighting, an imaginary one or a prank."

The collection includes quite a few files concerning reports from citizens of UFO sightings and their subsequent investigations.

Penguins Enamored with Rubber Boots

A penguin named Bonaparte at Sea Life Konstanz in Germany became unnaturally attached to his zookeeper's boots. Dennis Kübler's boots were made of black and white rubber. This is the penguins' mating season, and the other penguins who saw Bonaparte's attempts at wooing the boots were inspired to compete for the boots' affections as well. Kübler had to switch to a pair of blue boots to encourage the birds to try mating with each other instead. Kübler says he will go back to wearing his regular boots after Bonaparte finds a mate, since penguins are monogamous.

Good Samaritan Stuck in Sunroof

Danielle Michoud and her husband encountered a woman who was locked out of her car in Manchester, New Hampshire. Michoud was the smallest of the three, so volunteered to try getting in through the partially-open sunroof. But she became stuck. About 50 or so people came by, but they weren't there to help. According to Michoud, they stopped to take pictures or video of her predicament! Firefighters finally freed the woman using an airbag to pry the sunroof further open. Michoud was checked out at an emergency room and went home with bruises to her ribs and back.

Wanted: Buxom Virgins to Pick Tea Leaves with Their Lips

A Chinese tea vendor is marketing a variety of tea as extremely special, with healing properties and even a little magic. Legend says the tea was picked by fairies, who also drop out of the sky when the tea is brewed. The tea is advertised as being picked by the lips of virgins. In fact, the company is advertising for ten more virgins to pick the leaves with their lips and drop them into baskets without using their hands. Another qualification: the pickers must be at least a C cup bra size. Those who qualify can earn £50 ($82US) a day.

Original image
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
arrow
Weird
7 Famous People Researchers Want to Exhume
Original image
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

This week, the surrealist painter Salvador Dali is being exhumed from his grave in Figueres, northeastern Spain, where he has lain beneath the stage of a museum since his death in 1989. Researchers hope to collect DNA from his skeleton in order to settle a paternity suit brought by a tarot card reader named Pilar Abel, who claims that her mother had an affair with the artist while working as a maid in the seaside town where the Dalis vacationed. If the claim is substantiated, Abel may inherit a portion of the $325 million estate that Dali, who was thought to be childless, bequeathed to the Spanish state upon his death.

The grave opening may seem like a fittingly surreal turn of events, but advances in DNA research and other scientific techniques have recently led to a rise in exhumations. In the past few years (not to mention months), serial killer H. H. Holmes, poet Pablo Neruda, astronomer Tycho Brahe, and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, among many others, have all been dug up either to prove that the right man went to his grave—or to verify how he got there. Still, there are a number of other bodies that scientists, historians, and other types of researchers want to exhume to answer questions about their lives and deaths. Read on for a sampling of such cases.

1. LEONARDO DA VINCI

An international team of art historians and scientists is interested in exhuming Leonardo da Vinci's body to perform a facial reconstruction on his skull, learn about his diet, and search for clues to his cause of death, which has never been conclusively established. They face several obstacles, however—not the least of which is that da Vinci's grave in France's Loire Valley is only his presumed resting place. The real deal was destroyed during the French Revolution, although a team of 19th century amateur archaeologists claimed to have recovered the famed polymath's remains and reinterred them in a nearby chapel. For now, experts at the J. Craig Venter Institute in California are working on a technique to extract DNA from some of da Vinci's paintings (he was known to smear pigment with his fingers as well as brushes), which they hope to compare with living relatives and the remains in the supposed grave.

2. MERIWETHER LEWIS

A portrait of Meriwether Lewis
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

As one half of Lewis and Clark, Meriwether Lewis is one of America's most famous explorers, but his death belongs to a darker category—famous historical mysteries. Researchers aren't sure exactly what happened on the night of October 10, 1809, when Lewis stopped at a log cabin in Tennessee on his way to Washington, D.C. to settle some financial issues. By the next morning, Lewis was dead, a victim either of suicide (he was known to be suffering from depression, alcoholism, and possibly syphilis) or murder (the cabin was in an area rife with bandits; a corrupt army general may have been after his life). Beginning in the 1990s, descendants and scholars applied to the Department of the Interior for permission to exhume Lewis—his grave is located on National Park Service Land—but were eventually denied. Whatever secrets Lewis kept, he took them to his grave.

3. SHAKESPEARE

A black and white portrait of Shakespeare
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Shakespeare made his thoughts on exhumation very clear—he placed a curse on his tombstone that reads: "Good frend for Jesus sake forebeare/ To digg the dust encloased heare/ Bleste be the man that spares thes stones/ And curst be he that moves my bones." Of course, that hasn't stopped researchers wanting to try. After Richard III's exhumation, one South African academic called for a similar analysis on the Bard's bones, with hopes of finding new information on his diet, lifestyle, and alleged predilection for pot. And there may be another reason to open the grave: A 2016 study using ground-penetrating radar found that the skeleton inside appeared to be missing a skull.

4. JOHN WILKES BOOTH

A black and white photograph of John Wilkes Booth
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The events surrounding Abraham Lincoln's death in 1865 are some of the best-known in U.S. history, but the circumstances of his assassin's death are a little more murky. Though most historical accounts say that John Wilkes Booth was cornered and shot in a burning Virginia barn 12 days after Lincoln's murder, several researchers and some members of his family believe Booth lived out the rest of his life under an assumed name before dying in Oklahoma in 1903. (The corpse of the man who died in 1903—thought by most people to be a generally unremarkable drifter named David E. George—was then embalmed and displayed at fairgrounds.) Booth's corpse has already been exhumed from its grave at Baltimore's Greenmount Cemetery and verified twice, but some would like another try. In 1994, two researchers and 22 members of Booth's family filed a petition to exhume the body once again, but a judge denied the request, finding little compelling evidence for the David E. George theory. Another plan, to compare DNA from Edwin Booth to samples of John Wilkes Booth's vertebrae held at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, has also come to naught.

5. NAPOLEON

A portrait of Napoleon
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Napoleon has already been exhumed once: in 1840, when his body was moved from his burial-in-exile on St. Helena to his resting place in Paris's Les Invalides. But some researchers allege that that tomb in Paris is a sham—it's not home to the former emperor, but to his butler. The thinking goes that the British hid the real Napoleon's body in Westminster Abbey to cover up neglect or poisoning, offering a servant's corpse for internment at Les Invalides. France's Ministry of Defense was not amused by the theory, however, and rejected a 2002 application to exhume the body for testing.

6. HENRY VIII

A portrait of Henry VIII
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In his younger years, the Tudor monarch Henry VIII was known to be an attractive, accomplished king, but around age 40 he began to spiral into a midlife decline. Research by an American bioarchaeologist and anthropologist pair in 2010 suggested that the king's difficulties—including his wives' many miscarriages—may have been caused by an antigen in his blood as well as a related genetic disorder called McLeod syndrome, which is known to rear its head around age 40. Reports in the British press claimed the researchers wanted to exhume the king's remains for testing, although his burial at George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle means they will need to get the Queen’s permission for any excavation. For now, it's just a theory.

7. GALILEO

A portrait of Galileo
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The famed astronomer has had an uneasy afterlife. Although supporters hoped to give him an elaborate burial at the Basilica of Santa Croce, he spent about 100 years in a closet-sized room there beneath the bell tower. (He was moved to a more elaborate tomb in the basilica once the memory of his heresy conviction had faded.) More recently, British and Italian scientists have said they want to exhume his body for DNA tests that could contribute to an understanding of the problems he suffered with his eyesight—problems that may have led him to make some famous errors, like saying Saturn wasn't round. The Vatican will have to sign off on any exhumation, however, so it may be a while.

Original image
Lafontaine Inc.
arrow
This Just In
Workers in Quebec City Discover Potentially Live Cannonball Dating Back to the French and Indian War
Original image
Lafontaine Inc.

Quebec City is famous today for its old-world European charm, but a construction crew recently discovered a living relic of the city’s military past: a potentially explosive cannonball, dating all the way back to the French and Indian War.

As Smithsonian reports, workers conducting a building excavation in Old Quebec—the city’s historic center—last week unearthed the 200-pound metal ball at the corner of Hamel and Couillard streets. They posed for pictures before contacting municipal authorities, and archaeologist Serge Rouleau was sent in to collect the goods.

Initially, nobody—including Rouleau—knew that the rusty military artifact still posed a threat to city residents. But after the archaeologist toted the cannonball home in a trailer, he noticed a rusty hole through the center of the shell. This made him fear that the projectile was still loaded with gunpowder.

Rouleau contacted the Canadian military, which deployed bomb disposal specialists to collect the cannonball. They moved it to a secure location, where it will reportedly be either neutralized or destroyed. If the cannonball itself can be saved as a historic relic, it might be displayed in a museum.

“With time, humidity got into its interior and reduced its potential for exploding, but there’s still a danger,” munitions technician Sylvain Trudel told the CBC. “Old munitions like this are hard to predict … You never know to what point the chemicals inside have degraded.”

Experts believe that the cannonball was fired at Quebec City from Lévis, across the St. Lawrence River, during the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. This battle occurred on September 13, 1759, during the French and Indian War, when invading British troops defeated French forces in a key battle just outside Quebec City. Ultimately, the clash helped lead to Quebec’s surrender.

[h/t Smithsonian]

SECTIONS

More from mental floss studios