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10 Offbeat Stories You Might Have Missed This Week (4/6/19)

Radu Alexander


The world is full of weird and wonderful things, but a person can hardly be expected to keep up with all of them. Luckily, we’re here to help. In this list, we present to you some of the stranger stories that made headlines.

This week contained April Fool’s Day, so there were plenty of bizarre and unique stories in the headlines. However, once the dust settled, we discovered that not all of them were hoaxes. The week had its fair share of real offbeat news such as lemurs doing yoga, a parade of silly walks, and controversy over who the tallest politician in the world is.


10 Hot Sauna Leads To Naked Arrest

Photo credit: The Telegraph

An interesting arrest took place in the Swedish capital of Stockholm last Friday. An off-duty policeman apprehended a wanted fugitive while both were sharing a sauna completely naked.

The officer in question used his day off for a nice, relaxing visit to a Swedish sauna called a bastu. He was, of course, nude, as were all the people around him in the crowded room. He soon recognized one of his fellow sauna sweaters as a convicted criminal wanted for multiple drug offenses. Despite being ill-equipped, the policeman arrested the fugitive without a major incident.[1]

Rinkeby Deputy Police Chief Christoffer Bohman found the situation comical but also commended the officer for keeping his head cool and taking control of a potentially dangerous situation.

9 Skrillex vs. Mosquitoes

A new study published in the journal on infectious diseases Acta Tropica suggests that dubstep music could work as an efficient mosquito repellent.

If you ever find yourself under attack by these pesky insects, put on some electronic dance music. Specifically, try the track “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” by Skrillex. That is the song that scientists used in a recent experiment to see what kind of effect it would have on the behavior of adult Aedes aegypti, also known as yellow fever mosquitoes. They chose that particular song because it has a good blend of very high and very low frequencies.

Insects rely on sound to explore a good deal of their environment, so the belief was that music might interrupt their regular behavior patterns. Indeed, female mosquitoes attacked hosts later and less often than their control counterparts.

Not only that, but they also had less sex. Of course, researchers only used one track in their testing so it’s hard to say if music, in general, works as a deterrent or if Skrillex, specifically, has an effect on mosquitoes.[2]


8 The Tallest Politician In All The Land

Photo credit: apnews.com

There is a new political row over who holds the record of being the tallest politician in the world.

Last week, New York City councilman Robert Cornegy Jr. was officially recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s tallest politician. A former basketball player for St. John’s University, Cornegy stands at 208 centimeters (6’10”). The measurements were provided by three doctors from a Brooklyn medical center.

It did not take long for other people to come forward to contest the title. Jon Godfread, an insurance commissioner from North Dakota, says that he is 212.7 centimeters (6’11.75″). He also used to play basketball for the University of Northern Iowa and for a professional team in Germany. Even taller is Brad Sellers, the mayor of Warrensville Heights, Ohio. He is listed at 213 centimeters (7’0″) and was drafted by the Chicago Bulls back in 1986.

If we are also counting inactive politicians, then NBA Hall of Famer Yao Ming would take the title. After his retirement from basketball, the 229-centimeter (7’6″) Chinese athlete served as a delegate in the advisory body of the National People’s Congress.[3]

7 What Moon Poop Could Tell Us

Photo credit: vox.com

Humans might return to the Moon one day soon. If they do, scientists would like them to bring back the poop that has been sitting there for decades.

There are over 181,000 kilograms (400,000 lb) of man-made garbage on the Moon. Of that, almost 100 bags are filled with human waste from the astronauts who landed there. That was simply a by-product of human biology. It was never intended to be some long-term experiment. For astrobiologists, though, those bags are now probably the most interesting thing on the entire Moon.

Researchers would like to take a look at the feces and other human waste to see if there is anything alive in it. Under normal circumstances, poop is around 50 percent bacteria from over 1,000 different species. On Earth, this microbial life is so resilient that it can be found in every environment, no matter how harsh the conditions.[4]

Considering that the waste has been sitting on the Moon for decades, this would be, by far, the most extreme environment yet. That is why scientists are not getting their hopes up but are also not dismissing the idea outright.

Given ideal conditions, microbes could still be alive or at least revivable. Even if the microbes are all dead, researchers still consider the bags worth studying to try to determine how long the bacteria lasted and if they made any adaptations to their environment or not.

6 The Pacific Mastodon

Photo credit: sci-news.com

For the first time in over 80 years, scientists announced the discovery of a new species of mastodon.

Mastodons are the extinct cousin of elephants. They belong to the genus Mammut which, despite the name, does not include mammoths. They are part of the similarly-named genus Mammuthus. Mastodons were common throughout most of North and Central America and disappeared around 11,000 years ago.

Until recently, the scientific consensus was that North America was primarily populated by one widespread species simply called the American mastodon. According to a new paper published in PeerJ, a team led by Dr. Alton Dooley suggests that all the specimens recovered in California actually belonged to a different species named the Pacific mastodon.[5]

There are some telltale differences. The Pacific mastodon has narrower teeth, a thicker femur, and a sixth sacral vertebra compared to the American mastodon. Most noticeably, though, the former had no mandibular tusks. Dooley noticed that no fossils were recovered from the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts as well as the Sierra Nevada. He speculates that they acted as natural barriers that kept the two species apart.


5 The Parade Of Silly Walks

Photo credit: dw.com

Hundreds of Hungarians made their way through the streets of Budapest in a parade of “silly walks.” It was both a way to mark April Fools’ Day and pay homage to a famous comedy sketch by Monty Python.

The march was the idea of a 27-year-old education assistant named Benedek Petrok. He thought it would be a good way for people to briefly forget about their daily worries. Many others seemed to have agreed with him as they joined Petrok on a silly stroll of the city center.

His idea was inspired by an iconic 1970s sketch called the “Ministry of Silly Walks.” It featured John Cleese as a civil servant working for the aforementioned ministry. He reviews an application from the character, played by Michael Palin, who is looking for a government grant to develop his silly walk.[6]

4 A New Look Into Tiwanaku

Photo credit: National Geographic

Archaeologists believe that artifacts found in a reef in the middle of Lake Titicaca are remnants of the ancient religion of the Tiwanaku people.

About 1,200 years ago, the Tiwanaku state reached the peak of its power, stretching over parts of modern-day Bolivia, Chile, and Peru. The civilization collapsed around 1,000 years ago and was eventually overshadowed by other pre-Columbian cultures which are a lot more recognizable today. As archaeologist Paul Goldstein puts it: “The Tiwanaku is the greatest Native American empire that many Americans have never heard of.”

Of course, this elusiveness only makes the Tiwanaku more fascinating to scholars. In 2013, archaeologists hit the mother lode when they discovered a cache of Tiwanaku artifacts in Khoa reef. They spent the next six years figuring out what they all mean and recently published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers found metal ornaments, gold decorations, semiprecious stones, and incense burners. Two medallions depicted a ray-faced deity while some plaques had a puma-llama hybrid animal on them.

Divers also recovered items made from the shells of Spondylus mollusks which are not native to Lake Titicaca and came from the Pacific Ocean. There were also bones of real llamas used as animal sacrifices. All of these suggest that the site was once an important location for religious ceremonies. Most likely, it was a place where people made offerings to the gods.[7]

3 From Glen To Glen And Down The Mountain Side

Scotsman Ross Jennings has a straightforward goal: He wants to play the bagpipes in every country in the world. He reached an important milestone this week as the United States became No. 100 on his global tour.

On Tuesday, Jennings serenaded the people in New York’s Times Square. He chose the spot because he considers it one of the most iconic locations in the country. He has played in front of other notable landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, and the Taj Mahal.

The musician started his quest in 2014 by playing the bagpipes on top of a cliff in his native Scotland. He set off on this unusual pursuit because he loves traveling and loves playing the bagpipes. Jennings thought why not combine them and do something no one else has done before.[8]

2 Hey There, It’s Yogi Lemur!

Photo credit: BBC

A hotel in England’s Lake District is now offering yoga classes with lemurs.

Visitors who stay at Armathwaite Hall now have the option of taking part in a special kind of yoga session called “lemoga” where they can find inner peace and spend some quality time with a few furry ringtails. It is the latest in several “meet the wildlife” activities that the hotel offers as it has an adjoining wildlife park.[9]

The idea came from the fact that lemurs naturally adopt a stance similar to the “Lotus Position” in order to warm their bellies in the sun. Plus, many people find that spending time with animals is a good way to relax.

This is not the first time that animal yoga classes have become popular. Goat yoga took off a couple of years back and, even before that, there were special classes where people could bring their dogs.

1 The Russian Globetrotter

Photo credit: BBC

An eight-year-old boy from the Russian city of Astrakhan packed up his bags and left to “travel around the world.” Police found him safe a few hours later. He was already tired and ready to go back home.

The boy’s mother called the authorities after finding a note that her son had left. It said that he wanted to make an around-the-world trip. He had emptied his piggy bank, and off he went. The intrepid explorer had already taken three different buses and was walking on foot when Russian police caught up to him.

The young traveler had packed everything he needed for his globe-trotting adventures: encyclopedias to learn about the places he would visit, some spending money, a toy for entertainment, and a banana for sustenance. Despite his preparedness, the boy realized that traveling around the world was a tiring experience and wanted to go home.

The online community appreciated the kid’s moxie and shared their own ambitious adventures they had when they were young. They nicknamed the boy “Konyukhov” after a famed Russian explorer.[10]

 

Read more offbeat stories you might have missed from March 30, 2019, and March 23, 2019.