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The Weird Week in Review

Bear-safety Lecture Interrupted by Bear

Last Friday, Yellowstone National Park bear biologist Kerry Gunther and park spokesman Dan Hottle were being filmed by a CNN news crew about bear safety. While recording the segment, they spotted a hiker and a black bear nearby. The bear was walking toward the edge of the water, and the frightened hiker jumped into the water. A group of kayakers helped the hiker, Erin Prophet, back to land. The bear was minding its own business and did not appear to pose a threat. Gunther said the incident was only memorable because the news crew was present.

North Dakota May Not be a State

Looking at the fine print, 82-year-old John Rolczynski of Grand Forks, North Dakota found evidence that North Dakota might not legally be one of the United States. When the state was founded in 1889, the state constitution did not conform to federal requirements, which say the governor and other officials must take an oath of office. Rolczynski pointed out the mistake 16 years ago, and finally the matter may be resolved, as State Senator Tim Mathern has introduced a bill to correct the state constitution. The matter will be put to North Dakota voters in the spring.

Driver Wore Colander for License Photo

Citing religious reasons, Niko Alm demanded the right to wear a colander on his head for his driver's license photo in Vienna, Austria. He is a pastafarian, or a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. He was granted his request by licensing officials -but that doesn't mean pastafarianism is recognized as an official religion by the state. A police spokesman said that the pasta strainer Alm wore on his head did not violate any license rules, which merely state that a driver's whole face must be clearly visible in the photo. Therefore, a religious exemption for the headgear was not necessary.

Owl Leaves Perfect Print on Window

Sally Arnold of Kendal, Cumbria, UK, found an almost-perfect picture of an owl imprinted on her home's picture window. But the owl itself was nowhere to be found.

The bird had apparently crashed into the window of Sally Arnold's Kendal home, leaving the bizarre image - complete with eyes, beak and feathers.

Experts said the silhouette was left by the bird's "powder down" - a substance protecting growing feathers.

The detailed picture leaves the "impression" that the crash was pretty hard, but the bird left no feathers behind, and so was assumed to have flown away on its own.

Man Reports Marijuana Theft to Police

Twenty-year-old Max Fleck called Chicago police and reported that he had been robbed by three men who entered his apartment. He said the men hit him and his 19-year-old friend and left with two pounds of marijuana and a laptop computer. One of the intruders had been to the apartment earlier that evening. When police arrived at the crime scene, they found more narcotics and arrested Fleck on two counts of possession of a controlled substance and two counts of marijuana possession.

Town Sings Songs to Soothe Angry Elves

Townspeople in Bolungarvik, Iceland were upset that a new tunnel and avalanche barrier required the use of dynamite. They believed the explosions bothered the "hidden folk and elves" who subsequently began playing pranks such as rolling rocks down the hills. Seers asked Bolungarvik officials to apologize to the unseen spirits, but they refused. So, to placate the hidden people, who were never consulted about the construction, a ceremony was held and songs were sung. Heavy machinery was shut off during the rites, then crews went back to work on the avalanche barrier afterward.

Hiring Strippers for Funerals

One entertainment option for funerals in Taiwan is the Electric Flower Car, a lighted stage on which young women will strip to their underwear. The show is more common in rural areas, and the performers also sing for the mourners and onlookers. Reasons given for the strippers vary, from pleasing the lower gods or distracting ghosts to having a funeral that the deceased would have enjoyed.

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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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