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The Weird Week in Review

Runaway Floating Island

An inflated sculpture named "Is Land" was deployed at the Secret Garden Party music festival in Cambridgeshire, England. The £9,000 helium-filled sculpture is seven meters wide and looks like a chunk of land with grass and trees on top. The island drifted off after someone cut the ropes tethering the balloon on July 24th and is now nowhere to be found. Anyone who sees the island is asked to report it to the project's website. Donations at the site will go toward getting a second sculpture ready for Burning Man.

Murder Suspect Found on TV Show

Until this week, Liu Hao was winning his way to a date as a contestant on Happy League, a popular TV dating show in China. The 39-year-old was selected over eight other eligible bachelors after he sang on the show. But police in Jilin city responded to a tip from a viewer who recognized Liu.

Police watched the tapes and indeed Liu resembled Wu Gang – who stabbed a man to death more than 13 years ago outside a restaurant in Jilin, said Li Ang, a police officer from the criminal investigation department of the Jilin Public Security Bureau.

Li told The Associated Press that after a monthlong investigation, Liu was detained as the key suspect in the case.

Liu had become so comfortable with his new identity over the years that he "didn't think twice" about appearing on TV. The show's website has since removed clips that feature Liu.

Turtle with Broken Shell Finally Released

Andre the green sea turtle was found over a year ago with a massive hole in his shell, most likely caused by a boat propeller. Veterinarians at at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Jupiter, Florida, found three pounds of sand inside his shell, which caused internal injuries and a collapsed lung. Local orthodontist Dr. Alberto A. Vargas applied a technique called "distraction osteogenesis," also called "sea turtle orthodontics," to brace and encourage proper shell growth. He attached an expander to the shell and adjusted it a quarter of a millimeter every day as the shell grew, in order to maintain proper pressure and shape. Andre's internal injuries were treated with a skin graft and vacuum therapy to help the wounds. After 13 months of treatment and rehabilitation, Andre was returned to the ocean on Wednesday.

Stiff Fine for Illegal Parking in Vilnius

Arturas Zuokas, mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania, had enough. The mayor was so fed up with illegal parking that he took a spin in a Russian armored personnel carrier, crushing an illegally parked Mercedes along the way. The publicity stunt and accompanying photos made the news worldwide. Zuokas specifically cited illegally parked luxury cars as showing "a lack of respect" for pedestrians and bike riders. That's at least one driver who won't be parking in the wrong place anymore.

Skeleton Driver Pulled Over

A car was pulled over in Plattling, Germany, when police officers saw it was being driven by a skeleton! However, the driver was found to be a 23-year-old British man named Martin Williams. Williams had just purchased a life-size skeleton replica and was afraid it might be damaged in the trunk, so he placed it in the passenger seat. The car was a British model, with the driver on the right side, unlike German cars. No charges were files as no crime had been committed.

Building a Nuclear Reactor in the Kitchen

An unnamed man in Angelholm, Sweden was arrested for attempting to build a nuclear reactor in his kitchen. He was later released. Authorities doubt he would have seen success.

The 31-year-old tells the paper that he was able to buy radioactive waste from foreign companies and picked apart the components in a smoke detector (apparently older smoke detector contain nuclear material). He believes he spent between $5,000 and $6,000 on the project in total.

It was only later when the young man contacted Sweden's nuclear power agency that he realized his project was illegal. Police came to his apartment and confiscated the material. The young man was arrested but later released.

It is uncertain how the project went unnoticed, as the man kept a blog about his experiments.

Fish Goes on a Diet

An 8.8 pound giant gourami fish named Gary was donated to the Sea Life London Aquarium when he outgrew his tank, but the fish refused to eat. He refused to eat fish food, that is. The staff was puzzled until they found out Gary's previous owners had fed him nothing but chocolate cookies! Aquarium workers then started putting pieces of Kit-Kat bars inside grapes and other natural foods to entice Gary to eat. The fish is now being gradually weaned off chocolate.

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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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