The Weird Week in Review

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Stuart Kettell

Man Pushes a Brussels Sprout Up a Mountain with His Nose

Stuart Kettell of Balsall Common, West Midlands, UK, is in the process of climbing to the 3,560-foot summit of Mount Snowdon, on his hands and knees, while pushing a sprout along with his nose. He began his quest on Wednesday and hopes to reach the top in four days. Kettell is no stranger to strange stunts, like spending a week in a box and walking the streets on stilts. He does it to raise funds for the charity Macmillan Cancer Support. So far, he’s raised over £40,000, but has lost most of the skin on his knees.

Woman Finds IKEA Bags Stuffed with 80 Skeletons

Kicki Karlén was shocked when she checked inside an IKEA bag among a large number of bags in the basement of her church in Kläckeberga parish, Sweden, and saw human bones. She counted 80 bags of bones, and became angry. Folks from the parish told her the bones had been there since 2009. They were the bones of parishioners who had been buried under the floorboards of the church. They were disinterred when the church renovated to add a wheelchair ramp.

"I was on the team called in to dig out the bones five years ago," archaeologist Ludvig Papmehl-Dufay told The Local.

"Our mission was to document and rebury the bones, which may be as much as 500 years old. But the reburial was delayed and I have no idea why. The plan was to rebury them as soon as possible, but that's up to the church. The county board said they couldn't leave church ground, and it became complicated."

Papmehl-Dufay said it wasn’t he who put the bones in IKEA bags, but from a preservationist’s standpoint, it wasn’t a bad idea. Karlén calls the bags disrespectful.

Indian Women Still Sew in Advanced Age

A government program in Chhattisgarh, India, aims to distribute bicycles to women between the ages of 18-35, and sewing machines to women aged 35-60, to make the lives of working women easier. But records provided by the Chhattisgarh Labour Department under a sunshine law shows some shenanigans. A list of women who received sewing machines includes 6,189 women listed with an age of 114 years, and a dozen who were in their 200s. Fourteen women were listed with ages between 300 and 500 years, and one had an age recorded as 532 years! Around 19,399 sewing machines have been distributed under the program. Although women have been known to lie about their age, they usually keep it within the realm of possibility. Read the rest of the story at The Times of India.

Cat Stuck in Bird Feeder

We make jokes about how cats look at bird feeders as food traps, but this bird feeder trapped the cat instead of the bird. A cat nicknamed Butterscotch in Brandon, Manitoba, got his head stuck inside a bird feeder. The stray is wandering the neighborhood and evades attempts to catch him. Traps, tuna, and sardines do not tempt him. The cat can see around the feeder with one eye, and can even leap fences. No one has yet stepped forward to claim ownership of Butterscotch. It was hoped that he would enter a trap when he is hungry enough, but according to a Brandon & Area Lost Animals Facebook thread with updates on Butterscotch’s predicament, the cat has adapted to the contraption and is able to eat and drink around it, but still has not been caught.

Stem Cell Therapy Patient Grows a Nose in her Spine

An American woman suffering from paralysis volunteered for experimental surgery at Hospital de Egas Moniz in Lisbon, Portugal. Doctors took stem cells from the woman’s nose and implanted them in her spine, hoping that the cells would help her spinal cord regenerate nerve tissue. Other clinical trials involve growing these cells in the lab and classifying and separating desirable cells before transplant. The procedure on this woman, which took place nine years ago, skipped this step. The cells were transplanted directly to her spine, but they failed to regenerate her spinal tissue. Then last year, she was treated in the U.S. for a painful growth in her back.

The surgeons removed a 3-centimetre-long growth, which was found to be mainly nasal tissue, as well as bits of bone and tiny nerve branches that had not connected with the spinal nerves.

The growth wasn't cancerous, but it was secreting a "thick copious mucus-like material", which is probably why it was pressing painfully on her spine, says Brian Dlouhy at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, the neurosurgeon who removed the growth. The results of the surgery have now been published.

The team in Lisbon reports that about 140 patients have received the same therapeutic procedure, and that most showed signs of improvement. Still, it’s a cautionary tale that reminds us that stem cell research is still in its infancy.

Octopus Protects Eggs for 4.5 Years

A female octopus lays eggs once in her lifetime and dies soon after. But until the eggs hatch, she guards them fiercely, to the point of not eating. For one octopus in the Monterey Canyon of the Pacific Ocean, that meant a record-breaking four and half years of diligence! Researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute first observed this octopus in 2007, traveling to a brooding site. She was seen again 18 times over the next 53 months, always guarding her eggs. Scientists recognized it was the same octopus by her distinctive scars. In 2011, divers finally found the egg cases empty and the octopus mother gone. The low temperature at the depth of the nest is suspected to be the reason the eggs took so long to hatch, and would also explain how the mother lived so long without food. The 53 months is now a world record for egg brooding, not just for octopuses, but for all animals.

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August 1, 2014 - 1:16pm
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