Welcome back to another week of strange stories, curious chronicles, and aberrant anecdotes. If you missed last week’s list, you can catch it here.
There are two poop stories this week, although they are significantly different. One highlights a pigeon with great comedic timing while the other explores a scientific experiment designed to see if it is possible to make a usable knife out of frozen feces.
We also have a few strange crime stories for you: two Amish men run from the law, a Mummy Marauder is on the loose, and thieves make off with a solid gold toilet.
Videos started surfacing earlier this week showing a long, black figure slithering across China’s Yangtze River. It immediately drew comparisons to the infamous Loch Ness Monster, leading to speculation that China might have its own version of “Nessie” prowling its waters. However, this mystery was put to bed rather quickly and, unfortunately, the truth is far less exciting.
Clips of the Three Gorges Water Monster, as it was nicknamed, first circulated on Chinese social media platforms where they garnered tens of millions of views and, eventually, made their way to the West. After one professor opined that, if real, the creature was likely a large water snake, there was talk of the animal mutating to gigantic size due to the pollution in the river.
A few days later, the “serpent” was discovered to be just a piece of floating debris, although its exact nature is still unclear due to conflicting reports. One Chinese news outlet claimed it was a long piece of rubber tubing which detached itself from a shipyard. Meanwhile, state broadcaster CCTV said it was a mesh sunshade that got dislodged from the nearby ferry terminal and got wrapped up in such a way that it formed a snake-like figure.
A Chicago lawmaker was doing an interview discussing the pigeon poop problem at an infamous bus station when one of the birds made a bold statement to highlight the issue—the pigeon pooped on him.
The Irving Park Blue Line station has a reputation among Chicago residents as the “pigeon poop station”. Located underneath the Kennedy Expressway, the entrance has an underpass right above the commuter path where the birds sit and defecate at will.
There is, at least, one official who is trying to do something about it. State Representative Jaime Andrade has been trying to secure funds to deal with the problem since last year. Recently, he was doing another interview with a local TV station on the matter. Just as he was bad-mouthing the pigeons, one of them pooped right on his head. Not one to miss an opportunity, he pointed out that this is exactly what his constituents have to deal with.
Delays in settling the matter seem to be caused by a technicality over who is responsible for the pigeons. Last year, Andrade secured money from the state budget, but those funds went to the Chicago Transit Authority which has purview over the bus station as it is part of the Kennedy Expressway. The underpass, however, is not considered part of the station and falls under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Department of Transportation, while the sidewalk where the birds poop is the responsibility of the City of Chicago.
A fire at a genetics lab in Yarram, Victoria, Australia, led to the destruction of 100 cryogenic cylinders of cattle semen.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, the storage facility for Yarram Herd Services caught fire. It took firefighters two hours to contain the blaze but, by then, it was too late: everything inside the building had been destroyed.
The biggest loss was 100 receptacles which stored cattle semen. The company offers herd testing, artificial insemination (AI), and other services to many farmers in the region who often choose to store the genetic material from their own animals at the facility.
The value of the destroyed goods is particularly high right now as we just entered AI season. The cylinders themselves were worth between $500 and $1,000 each while their contents were considerably more valuable. Bull semen is worth anywhere between $5 and $95 per straw.
This blaze proved to be a unique challenge for firefighters. Initially, they had to remain in a defensive position. The heat caused the fluid inside the cylinders to expand which, in turn, prompted the lids to fly off as high-speed projectiles. Investigators are still looking into the cause of the fire.
While everyone was focussed on newly discovered photos of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in blackface (which he, weirdly, blamed on “white privilege”), they missed this curious tale of a guy in white face!
On Friday the 13th, a criminal robbed the First Convenience Bank in Harris County, Texas, near Houston. He threatened the teller and left with an undisclosed sum of money, speeding away in a black Mitsubishi Montero SUV. To conceal his identity, the man wrapped himself in white gauze. To further obscure his likeness, he also wore sunglasses, a wig, and a baseball cap. However, it really was the linen wrappings that stood out and subsequently earned the criminal the moniker of the “Mummy Marauder”.
According to the FBI, the culprit was a black male in his early 20s, around 1.8 meters (5’11”) tall and medium build. They released images of the suspect in the hope that someone could help identify him. A $5,000 reward for information leading to his arrest was offered by Crime Stoppers of Houston.
Police in Ohio are on the lookout for two Amish men who fled the scene after being stopped by deputies for drinking while driving their horse buggy.
Last Sunday night, an officer from Trumbull County observed an unusual scene as a buggy drove past him. It was fitted with a sound system with giant speakers and there was an open case of ultra-light beer on the roof. Inside were an older Amish man and a teenager who were drinking spiked ice tea while riding in the carriage. A horse & buggy is considered a vehicle which means that the same drinking and driving laws apply so the deputy went to pull the carriage over.
As soon as the vehicle stopped, the men inside made a run for it into the wooded area on the side of the road. At the same time, the horse sped off pulling the empty buggy. The deputy decided to pursue the horse to make sure that the carriage came to a safe stop.
The Amish men got away and, as of this moment, remain unidentified, but they will have to come forward if they want their horse & buggy back.
In a new study published in the anthropological journal Sapiens, a scientist experimented to see if it is possible to make a usable knife out of frozen feces.
Back in the 1990s, popular anthropologist Wade Davis from the University of British Columbia told an anecdote of an elderly Inuit man from the 1940s or 50s who refused to leave his igloo out in the wild and relocate to a modern settlement. Even when his family took away all his tools, he made do with what he had. Specifically, he took his own feces and modeled it into a knife, sharpening it using only his hands and saliva. Then, he left it to freeze and ended up with a solid blade which he used to kill a dog.
Experimental archaeologist Metin Eren from Ohio’s Kent State University was one of the people fascinated by Davis’s story. Back then he was still a teenager, but now he had everything he needed to put the tale to the test.
He ate a high-protein diet rich in salmon, beef, and turkey for eight days. He obtained multiple “raw materials” which he shaped into blades both using his hands and with a mold. He even used a metal file to sharpen some of the knives and give them the best chance of success, but it was no use. None of them could cut through hide, instead simply melting and leaving streaks “like a brown crayon”.
Astronomers at the Green Bank Observatory (GBO) in West Virginia have found the most massive neutron star ever detected and it might remain that way for the foreseeable future. It is right at the theoretical limit of how big a neutron star could be without collapsing into a black hole.
Neutron stars are the remnants of massive stars that went supernova and might be the second-most dense objects in the Universe after black holes. To put them into perspective, GBO scientists say that one sugar cube of neutron star matter would weigh 100 million tons on Earth.
Researchers from the NANOGrav Physics Frontier Center were using the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) to observe a rapidly-rotating pulsar called J0740+6620 located 4,600 light-years away from us. They soon realized that it might be, in fact, the most massive neutron star ever detected. It crammed 2.17 solar masses into a sphere just 30 kilometers (18.6 mi) in diameter.
Moreover, scientists believe that neutron stars can’t get much bigger than this. Recent research suggests that 2.17 solar masses might be the limit before a neutron star would crush itself into a black hole.
A Guinness record six months in the making took place on Thursday as Michigan was briefly the home to the world’s largest ball of lint before it was burned to ashes.
The event was half promotional stunt/half public service announcement courtesy of the Farmington Hills Fire Department and Dryer Vent Wizard, a business that offers dryer vent cleaning and repairing services.
Since April, the company has instructed its employees across 95 franchises to keep the lint they collected on the job in order to save up for the record. The giant fiber ball topped up at 313 kilograms (690 lbs). There was no previous record-holder but, in order to qualify, the ball had to be, at least, 45 kilograms (99lbs) according to Guinness guidelines. After officials certified the record, firefighters set the ball ablaze.
Part of the reason for this move was to show just how flammable lint is and to raise awareness to the importance of regularly cleaning dryer vents. Failure to do so is the leading cause of dryer fires in residential buildings.
The date to “storm Area 51” is here. After months of publicity and a successful viral campaign, this weekend will play host to a bizarre event that started out as an online joke to “see them aliens” and turned into a music festival.
This whole thing began back in June when a man named Matty Roberts created a Facebook event to raid the site in search of alien life. Of course, it was all a prank and Roberts has since disavowed it as the U.S. Government warned people against actually trespassing onto the military base.
Even so, over two million people said on Facebook that they will be attending so the even got turned into two music festivals which were supposed to be held in the nearby towns of Rachel and Hiko, Nevada. Roberts has since dropped out completely, but it seems that the concerts will go on without him.
According to Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee, around 1,500 people showed up early Friday morning as music group Wily Savage were getting ready to perform their set. There is concern that the arrival of a giant crowd would generate chaos for the tiny towns that have a population of less than 200 people combined. Lincoln County emergency manager Eric Holt estimated that local authorities could handle a group of 30,000 people, but anything larger than that would cause problems.
It remains to be seen how many people will attend, although it is fair to say that most of the two million Facebook “attendees” only signed up as a joke.
A solid gold toilet worth $6 million was stolen from the Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, England, in a burglary reminiscent of a “heist movie”.
The toilet is an “art” installation called America by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. Made in 2016, the item is part of the permanent collection of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, but was on loan to the stately home of the Duke of Marlborough which is also the birthplace of Winston Churchill. The 18-carat gold toilet is fully functional and, in fact, visitors to the exhibition were encouraged to use it for its intended purpose.
The theft was discovered in the early morning hours of last Saturday. Blenheim Palace had a sophisticated security system which the criminals managed to bypass. Although investigators are not sure yet how the heist went down, they believe the thieves made their getaway in two separate vehicles.
The first arrest in the case came quickly. That same day, a 66-year-old man was held on suspicion of burglary. Subsequently, a 36-year-old man was also brought in under the same circumstances. Both men have been released, but they are still under investigation. Police are keeping tight-lipped on their progress. They say the main priority is to retrieve the artwork, although they are not discounting the possibility that it could be melted down.
Artist Maurizio Cattelan was “mortified” when he first heard the news, but later tried to look on the brighter side. He enjoyed being part of a real-life “heist movie”.