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The Weird Week in Review

Yule Log Video Prompts Emergency Calls

The fire department in Regina, Saskatchewan, has responded to way too many false alarms over the past few weeks. There was no prankster to be blamed, though, just the holiday spirit of the local hockey football team. The stadium used by the Saskatchewan Roughriders has a large video display, and the display has included video of a traditional Yule log burning. A festive idea, to be sure, but from a distance it appeared as a wildfire against the nighttime horizon. Over the past few weeks, four callers to 911 dispatch have reported the stadium on fire. Others say it looks like a neighborhood on fire. The fire department let the situation be known to the Roughriders organization, who agreed to ditch the video fire and change the display to a thank you message.

Fox Sends Text Message from Stolen Phone

Norwegian teenager Lars Andreas Bjercke downloaded an intriguing app that imitates the sounds of rabbits, in order to attract foxes. It worked very well. After several nights of circling the yard where the phone was left, a fox took the phone and ran off! The theft was captured on video. But the story gets even better.

Lars later called the phone and, surprisingly, the fox answered.

"There was a crackling sound and some noise," Lars told Verdens Gang.

The next day, Lars's friend wondered why he had sent him an odd text message. The message was in strange letters and numbers. Lars knew that the sender was the fox.

"I FRY o a0ab 34348tu åaugjoi zølbmosdji jsøg ijio sjiw," it said in the message.

Read more about the story in Norwegian (with a news video) and in English.

Assault with a Ukulele

A store clerk at a gas station in Seattle, Washington, saw a couple trying to steal a six-pack of Olde English beer Tuesday night. The clerk confronted the two and announced his intention to call police. As he was reaching for the phone, the male perpetrator smashed him in the head with a ukulele! The couple fled the scene, and police arrived to find the clerk bleeding from the head. He was taken to a hospital for first aid. No arrests were made, and the case is under investigation.

Serbian Vampire on the Loose

The well-known Serbian vampire Sava Savanovi? lived in a water mill near the village of Zarožje. The Jagodic family bought the mill and turned it into a tourist attraction. However, they neglected to keep the mill in good repair, because they were afraid of disturbing the vampire. Recently, the structure collapsed and fears that Sava Savanovi? is looking for a new home have locals terrified. The local council advised citizens to guard against vampire attack. Garlic has been selling like hotcakes in Zarožje.

Chicago's Highest-Ever Parking Ticket Bill

Jennifer Fitzgerald has racked up over $105,000 in parking ticket fines for a car that was left at O'Hare airport for three years. Fitzgerald says the car was purchased by her then-boyfriend, but he registered it in Fitzgerald's name without telling her. When they broke up in 2009, he parked the car at the airport.

Now three years later, the car has received 687 parking tickets, equaling a hefty $105,761.81 fine. The Expired Meter reports that it's the highest ever fine in Chicago history, with second place only coming in at $65,000 and more than 400 tickets.

Fitzgerald claimed to The Expired Meter that she didn't know the car was parked in the airport. However, even if she did, Chicago law states that any car parked for more than 30 days in a city-owned lot is subject to an immediate tow to a city pound or authorized garage. She's arguing that the majority of the tickets would not have even been issued if the car had been towed.

Fitzgerald found out about the car when the first parking tickets arrived, and she asked for it to be towed away because she did not have the keys. She had the car's license plates revoked in 2010, but it was not towed until October of 2012 -and the tickets piled up all that time. Meanwhile, Fitzgerald has lost her driver's license because of the debt.

Russian Children Take Found Lion to School

Children playing on the Russian steppe in the Rostov region found a 5-month-old lion cub -and took it to school with them! Their teacher contacted authorities, but the children played with the lion cub while waiting. The cub, named Barsik, had escaped from a car while being transported to a zoo in Dagestan.

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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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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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