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11 Human and Animal Bodily Byproducts That Sell for Cold, Hard Cash

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ThinkStock

Humans and other animals ooze and excrete valuable substances that are worth a pretty penny on the open market. There's a very specific going rate for much of what's inside us (especially the gross stuff). If you're thinking about getting in on the bodily fluid trade, here are 11 icky substances expelled by living things that are worth some serious cash.

1. Guano, Seabird, and Bat Poop

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You don't have to be Ace Ventura to know that the feces of seabirds and bats makes for great fertilizer. The demand for guano is high and the industry is once again thriving, but the smelly commodity is not mined with the same fervor that it was in the late 1800s, when the multimillion-dollar poop trade inspired diplomatic disputes and proxy wars throughout the Pacific islands and South America.

2. Ambergris (Whale Poop/Vomit)

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Ambergris is a bile substance that is digested and excreted or coughed up by sperm whales. It hardens in the ocean and occasionally washes ashore, looking like a large stone. Freshly pooped or spewed, ambergris has an intensely foul odor. But after a careful aging process, the hardened vomit takes on a sweet, earthy scent—highly prized in the fragrance business for its use in colognes and perfumes. Finding a couple pounds of ambergris on the beach is nearly as good as happening upon several thousand dollars in hard cash.

3. Toddy Cat Coffee Bean Droppings

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When the Asian palm civet, or Toddy cat, eats scavenged coffee beans during harvest season, it deposits (poops) them out the other end of its digestive tract with the outer shell removed and the beans' flavors somehow enhanced. Ground up, the bean droppings make a cup of joe worth anywhere from $8 to $30. Caffeine aficionados swear by the stuff.

4. Human Eggs and Sperm

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This one is no surprise, but the reverse gender wage gap is interesting. While men's sperm typically fetches somewhere between $50 and $200, in 2010, a woman could earn upwards of $5000 for donating a portion of her more finite supply of eggs.

5. Human Plasma

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Most people give their blood away for free. Suckers! The part of your blood that fills it with proteins that help it clot—the plasma—can make you $300 a month.

6. Human Hair

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My friend once tossed his wet, recently shaved hair through the open window of a college sorority's bathroom. All he got was dirty looks and vengeful rumors. He should have sold his hair to wig makers, who actually pay for the locks.

7. Bird Spit

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About 400 years ago, someone in China saw white nest cliff swifts building nests out of their saliva along the high sea walls of the coast and thought, "wow, that would make a great soup." The delicacy has been incorporated into various Chinese dishes ever since. A pound of the stuff is worth more than $1000.

8. Scorpion Venom

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Scorpion venom can leave you writhing in pain, or even dead. It can also land you several thousands of dollars. It's highly prized because protein in the venom can be used to make drugs for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and multiple sclerosis.

9. Elephant dung coffee

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Like the Toddy cat coffee of Indonesia, the coffee made with beans digested by elephants in Thailand is apparently dark, smooth, and expensive. After a slow, slow roast in the digestive tract of Asian elephants, the coffee beans are ground, brewed, poured into a mug, and sold for $50.

10. Silk

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James and his giant peach weren't in it for the adventure, they were in it for the silk and the cash. Even with the advent of synthetics, real silk remains coveted by the fashion world, making silk worm farming fairly profitable.

11. Castoreum (Beaver Butt Secretion)

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Castoreum is the fluid extracted from the castor sacs, or scent glands, of beavers. The sacs are located right between the base of a beaver's tail and its anal glands. Though castoreum is produced in limited amounts (you can imagine why), it is sellable, as it has a rather pleasant smell and is used in some perfumes (and also as a food additive).

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From Snoopy to Shark Bait: The Top Slang Word in Each State
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There’s a minute, and then there’s a hot minute. Defined as “a longish amount of time,” this unit of time is familiar to Alabamians but may stir up confusion beyond the state’s borders.

It’s Louisianans, though, who feel the “most misunderstood,” according to the results of a survey regarding regional slang by PlayNJ. Of the Louisiana residents surveyed, 72 percent said their fellow Americans from other states—even neighboring ones—have a hard time grasping their lingo. Some learned the hard way that ordering a burger “dressed” (with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayo) isn’t universally understood, nor is the phrase “to pass a good time” (instead of “to have” a good time).

After surveying 2000 people (with proportional numbers from each state), PlayNJ created a map showing the top slang word in each state. Many are words that are unlikely to be understood beyond state lines, but others—like California’s bomb (something you really like) and New York’s deadass (to be completely serious)—have spread well beyond their respective borders thanks to memes and internet culture.

Hawaiians are also known for their distinctive slang words, with 71 percent reporting that words like shaka (hello) and poho (waste of time) are frequently misunderstood. Shark bait, one of the state’s more colorful terms, refers to tourists who are so pale that they attract sharks.

Check out the full list below and test your knowledge of regional slang words with PlayNJ’s online quiz.

A chart showing the top slang words in each state
PlayNJ
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20 States With the Highest Rates of Skin Cancer
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iStock

They don’t call it the Sunshine State for nothing. Floridians get to soak up the sun year-round, but that exposure to harmful UV rays also comes with consequences. Prevention magazine reported that Florida has the highest rate of skin cancer in the U.S., according to a survey by Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS).

BCBS surveyed 9 million of its insured members who had been diagnosed with skin cancer between 2014 and 2016 and found that Florida had the highest rate of skin cancer at 7.1 percent. People living in eastern states tend to be more prone to skin cancer, and diagnoses are more common among women.

Here are the 20 states with the highest rates of skin cancer:

1. Florida: 7.1 percent
2. Washington, D.C.: 5.8 percent
3. Connecticut: 5.6 percent
4. Maryland: 5.3 percent
5. Rhode Island: 5.3 percent
6. Vermont: 5.3 percent
7. North Carolina: 5.2 percent
8. New York: 5 percent
9. Massachusetts: 5 percent
10. Colorado: 5 percent
11. Arizona: 5 percent
12. Virginia: 5 percent
13. Delaware: 4.8 percent
14. Kentucky: 4.7 percent
15. Alabama: 4.7 percent
16. New Jersey: 4.7 percent
17. Georgia: 4.7 percent
18. West Virginia: 4.5 percent
19. Tennessee: 4.5 percent
20. South Carolina: 4.4 percent

It may come as a surprise that sunny California doesn’t make the top 20, and Hawaii is the state with the lowest rate of skin cancer at 1.8 percent. Prevention magazine explains that this could be due to the large population of senior citizens in Florida and the fact that the risk of melanoma, a rare but deadly type of skin cancer, increases with age. People living in regions with higher altitudes also face a greater risk of skin cancer due to the thinner atmosphere and greater exposure to UV radiation, which explains why Colorado is in the top 10.

The good news is that the technology used to detect skin cancer is improving, and researchers hope that AI can soon be incorporated into more skin cancer screenings. To reduce your risk, be sure to wear SPF 30+ sunscreen when you know you’ll be spending time outside, and don’t forget to reapply it every two hours. 

[h/t Prevention]

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