Mysterious News Briefly — February 3, 2021
The storm that blew through New Jersey this week uncovered the famous ‘ghost tracks’ on the each in Cape May – they’re actually railroad tracks used in the early to mid-1900s to support sand mining and munitions testing during World War I and only appear once every few years. Sounds like the plot for a bad train movie, but they already made “Runaway Train.”
It’s not wise to get to close to adult alligators, but researchers studying hatchling American alligators and spectacled caimans found that the tiny gators were much more curious about their surroundings than the caimans. Unfortunately, their primary thought is “I wonder what that tastes like.”
When you get bored with swinging the laser pointer but your cat still wants to play, you can now buy it an the Ebo Catpal Pro Classic Set with AI Intelligence – a pet toy/monitor with AI algorithms that detect your cat’s mood and adapt to its unique play style and personality, while also letting you speak to it while you’re away and watch it using the camera. When spending $249 and more to entertain your feline, remember that there’s just one letter’s difference between “Mew” and “Meh.”
A new analysis of 11 teeth found in a cave on the English Channel island of Jersey indicates that they came from Stone Age individuals that had mixed Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens ancestry, adding credence to the theory that humans and Neanderthals had hot and heavy sex, resulting in the Neanderthal DNA in our genes. If you’re wondering how teeth can tell someone about their sex lives, you need to move past Chapter 1 in the manual.
Just when you thought the Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) couldn’t get any more mysterious, researchers have discovered that the electric signals the plant uses to snap shut its ‘jaws’ generate sizeable magnetic fields. Does this mean you can stick one to your fridge door and get rid of those pesky flies naturally?
Conservationists working to save the black rhinoceros by tranquilizing them and transporting the animals by helicopter to safer breeding grounds have found that hanging the drugged rhinos upside down actually improves their breathing and allows them to arrive in better shape. And you thought nightmares about showing up for work in your pajamas were bad.
Robotics firm Boston Dynamics has unveiled Spot Arm – a version of its famous robot dog with an arm instead of a head which is demonstrated in a video showing two Spot Arms holding either end of a spinning jump rope while a headless Spot jumps. What’s next – a speaking Spot that knows more rope-skipping rhymes than your daughter does?
A study by University of Chicago researchers found that the act of chewing originated 380 million years ago in the Tiktaalik roseae – a species that lived "right at the cusp of the transition from life in water to life on land" and may have brought chewing out of the water and onto land, where chewing is harder because air doesn’t soften food like water does. After 380 million years of evolution, you’d think some people would stop chewing with their mouths open.
After finally getting approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, a SpaceX Starship SN9 prototype was launched from the company’s South Texas launch facility, only to crash and burn as it landed. Let’s hope those billionaires who bought seats on a future flight saved their receipts.
A bizarre-looking ‘rope-monster’ that was still moving after it washed up on a beach at the Padre Island National Seashore in Texas was finally identified as a living species of coral known as the sea whip (Leptogorgia virgulate). Does this mean the Gulf of Mexico is home to a bondage-loving mermaid? (Asking for a kinky Texas friend.)