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The Weird Week in Review

Ground Zero at the Maya Apocalypse

The town of Bugarach, France, was reported to be the safest place on earth for the Maya Apocalypse. The officials of the village of about 200 said they didn't want to be flooded with refugees, but it turns out they were overrun with journalists instead.

It took jet-lagged correspondents about five minutes after arriving in town to realise that their end-of-the-world report would look as bleak as a rural French village in winter. Which, by the way, is exactly what Bugarach is. Their editors in New York, Tokyo, Berlin, Istanbul or London were definitely not going to be happy with endless footage of TV crews roaming helplessly in the otherwise empty streets of Bugarach, the rocky outpost in southwest France that doomsday prophets inspired by an ancient Mayan calendar have designated as the sole survivor of the impending apocalypse.

Journalists were even thwarted in their mission when the town's mayor did not show up for a press conference. Only one "doomsday prophet" was in residence, Sylvain Durif, who was glad to meet with journalists and receive all the publicity.

Naked Full Moon Grape Harvest

Vintner Mike Hayes of Queensland, Australia, is recreating an ancient ritual to improve his wine. That means picking the grapes under a full moon sans clothing. Records of the technique come from the former Soviet republic of Georgia, and date back 4,000 years. Hayes considers the stunt an experiment, learned as part of a Churchill Fellowship. The nude harvesting will begin in March. Hayes grows dozens of rare alternate varieties of grapes, and his winery was awarded five stars.

Speeding Ticket for an Idling Car

In Baltimore, Maryland, a speeding ticket was issued to Daniel Doty based on a camera trap that noted he was traveling at 38 mph in a 25 mph zone. However, the pictures taken by the camera clearly showed that the car was idling at a stop light, and never moved during the sequence of evidence. The system contractor says each ticket must pass two layers of review, then be examined by a police officer before it is issued -which evidently did not work in this case. The speed camera program has generated $48 million in the past three years. Baltimore and some other areas pay the camera company contractors based on the number of tickets issued, which is prohibited by state law. A Baltimore District Court judge dismissed the case when it came to court.

Driveway Stolen

Rachel L. McCarty of Reddick, Florida, arrived home last week and felt a large bump at the entrance to her driveway. The concrete pavers that made up her driveway were completely gone! A neighbor had seen men digging up the concrete and loading it into a truck, but did not consider it suspicious. Another crew was doing contracted work on a barn on the victim's property, so the witness thought the driveway work was just part of the remodeling. However, when the perpetrator returned two days later to the same neighborhood and began to dismantle another driveway, he was reported by neighbors and arrested.

Zoo Baby

There's a new baby at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo! But there are no cute furry baby pictures released to the media, because this specimen is human. An unnamed 21-year-old woman went into labor as she was visiting the zoo in Syracuse, New York, last Friday morning. Zoo Education Coordinator Liz Schmidt was called to help.

“I honestly didn’t expect her to deliver at the zoo,” Schmidt said this afternoon. “I thought we’d pop her in a wheelchair and she’d be good to go to the hospital.”

It was obvious to Schmidt when she arrived that the baby had other ideas.

The woman had been touring the zoo with a group of five to seven adults and children when she went into labor, Schmidt said. An adult led the children away to go look at the lions, as the woman was giving birth, she said.

Zookeeper Sarah Kohler assisted, while elephant keeper John Moakler took over crowd control. An ambulance was called and took the mother and the newborn baby girl to a hospital.

Toddler Hatches Deadly Snake Eggs

Three-year-old Kyle Cumming of Queensland, Australia, found some interesting eggs in his yard and took them inside. He asked his mom for a container and stashed the eggs in his closet. Several weeks went by, and when Kyle's mother Donna Sim opened the wardrobe on Monday, she found they had hatched -into deadly eastern brown snakes! Of all the known snake species, only the eastern taipan is more deadly. The snakes were still in the container with a lid on, and Sims took the snakes to a wildlife sanctuary, where they were identified. The snakes will be released in a wilderness area. Kyle is a bit disappointed, because he wanted to raise the snakes.

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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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