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The Weird Week in Review

The Bike-eating Tree

A bicycle lost over 50 years ago has been found -five feet off the ground, swallowed by a tree. Ninety-nine-year-old Helen Puz told the story of how she received a bicycle for her 8-year-old son in 1954. The boy was not particularly happy about riding a girl's bike, and one day told his mother the bike was lost. Forty years later, Puz read a a local newspaper account of a tree in the same woods her son used to roam that had grown up around a bicycle. Photographs of the bike had already spread around the world. The mystery of where her son had left his bike all those years ago was solved. There's not much chance of recovering the bicycle; it's quite rusted, but the front wheel still turns!

Oompa-Loompas Sought in Assault Case

Police in Norwich, Norfolk, England, are looking for two Oompa-Loompas in connection with an assault on a 28-year-old man, who was left with cuts, bruises, and two black eyes. The man was attacked as he was leaving a kebab shop.

"Police are seeking a group of four people, two of whom were dressed as Oompa-Loompas, who attacked a male on a night out," a spokesman for Norfolk police said.

"Two of the males were dressed as Oompa-Loompas from [the Roald Dahl book] Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with painted orange faces and dyed green hair and were wearing hooped tops."

The spokesman added: "One of the males in the group then pushed the victim to the floor before he got up. He was then hit on the head, fell to the floor and hit again."

Anyone with information is urged to call the Norfolk police.

Three Tries, No Jewelry

Two men attempted to break into a jewelry store in Beaudesert, Australia, on New Year's Eve by breaking through the back wall of the building. However, when they went through the wall, they found themselves in a KFC outlet -which was still open! The two took the opportunity to hold up the restaurant, and made off with $2,600. Police said the KFC robbery was the pair's third unsuccessful attempt to burglarize the jewelry store that day! That morning, they had failed to break the store's glass windows. Then they tried breaking in through the back door, but entered a thrift store instead -which netted them only $50 from a charity box. The jewelry store remained untouched. Peter Welsh and Dwayne Doolan were arrested when police raided Welsh's home.

Suing for Her Name

A 15-year-old girl in Iceland is suing the government for the right to use her own name. Blaer Bjarkardottir was named and baptized before her family was informed that the name Blaer was not on Iceland's approved list of 1,853 female names. Blaer is referred to as "Stulka," which means simply "girl" on all official documents. The rules are especially frustrating, as Blaer is an Icelandic name, but only approved for males. Bjarkardottir points out that the name was used for a female character in a novel by a Nobel Prize-winning Icelandic author. Meanwhile, Bjarkardottir must explain the circumstances of not having an official name when dealing with any bank or government service.

Secret Fishing Spots Sold for Revenge

Angela Potter of Waikato, New Zealand was not happy when her ex-boyfriend moved to Australia with her suitcase, which she said has sentimental value. But he didn't take everything with him.

Miss Potter was clearing out her garage when she found the GPS markings for fishing spots in the Bay of Plenty and many other areas of the North Island, so she auctioned them off on Trade Me last January and scored herself a whopping $3000.

The auction received 89,688 views, making it the 10th most viewed Trade Me auction of 2012, a surprise to Miss Potter.

The ex-boyfriend was not happy about his secret fishing locations being sold to the highest bidder. Potter said she didn't do it to be vindictive, but rather for a laugh.

A Restraining Order Against Helicopter Parents

Aubrey Ireland is a 21-year-old student at the University of Cincinnati. A judge granted her a restraining order against her parents, who must now stay 500 feet away from their daughter until September. Ireland's complaints that her parents were controlling her life at first sound similar to many college students, but her parents installed monitoring software on her computer, required her to leave a Skype connection on all night so her mother could watch her sleep, and made unannounced 600-mile visits to Ireland's department head. They also threatened to force Ireland into mental health treatment. Since the restraining order was granted, Ireland's parents have requested a refund of $66,000 in educational costs. Meanwhile, Aubrey Ireland was awarded a full scholarship for her senior year.

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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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