Dec 17, 2022 I Paul Seaburn

Dracula's DNA, Crying Trees, Beached Aliens, Alaskan Yeti Sightings and More Mysterious News Briefly

A roundup of mysterious, paranormal and strange news stories from the past week.

Rishi Rajpopat, a 27-year-old University of Cambridge PhD student – solved a Sanskrit grammatical problem which has baffled scholars since the 5th Century BCE by figuring out a vague rule in the grammar-correcting Sanskrit "language machine" of Panini, a master of the ancient Sanskrit language who lived around 2,500 years ago. Appropriately enough, the solution solves the problem of when one of Panini’s rules is ‘sandwiched’ between others.

It is 2022 but USA Today once again had to correct a fast-spreading Facebook meme from Flat earthers who claimed the Earth is flat because near the South Pole cannot be upside-down – it had to show that there is no true "up" or "down" in space because gravity pulls objects toward the core of the Earth, creating the sensation of being upright. The only place where up is down and down is up is in political campaigns.

NASA has released an unbelievable infrared image of Jupiter's moon Io taken this past summer by the Juno spacecraft when it was just 50,000 miles away and it shows that Io is covered with hundreds of active volcanoes, some shooting streams of lava dozens of miles into its atmosphere – making Io the most volcanically active moon in the solar system. This could cause a problem for future astronauts if Io has a volcano goddess like Pele who curses anyone stealing her volcanic rocks as souvenirs.

Researchers taking a new look at a 3300-year-old painting on the walls of the palace at Amarna, an ancient Egyptian capital located south of Cairo, found that the depictions of birds flying and perching in a marsh are so detailed, they could identify the species of all of them - rock pigeons, pied kingfisher, red-backed shrike and white wagtail. The next step will be to see if they can identify the person cleaning pigeon poop off of the Great Sphinx.

Discoveries at a major new fossil site in Morocco show that giant arthropods -- relatives of modern shrimp, insects and spiders -- dominated the seas 470 million years ago in an area that is now a desert, and some of the shrimp measured up to 2 meters (6.5 feet) long. And yet … they were still called “shrimp” – which means oxymorons are also 470 million years old.

Yet another ‘time traveler’ has come from the future to warn us about climate change – this one calls himself ‘Edward’ from the year 2004 who was sent to the year 5,000 and then sent back with a photograph of what he claimed was Los Angeles completely underwater … but he doesn’t explain how he took the photo while submerged deep in the ocean. He also doesn’t explain why he didn’t save us by going back to 2004 and preventing our past selves from changing the climate sooner … proving once again that the future has lost the word ‘conundrum’.

Austrian bodybuilder Helmut Strebl holds the unofficial title of “most shredded man in the world” after lifting weights for years and reducing his body fat to a mere 4% so that he looks like a walking anatomy model with muscles so well-defined that you can see every fiber contracting under his skin. His six-pack is so big, he gets stopped at beverage stores for shoplifting. 

A new study on the behavior of wild chimpanzees suggests that bipedalism in humans may have begun when our ancestors were still living and moving around in trees where they spent much more time that first thought walking across branches to get around instead of jumping to the flat ground and going upright to find more food. This could explain why chimps seem to laugh at zookeepers when they have to use a ladder.  

Residents of Burnaby in British Columbia are mortified and terrified after finding dozens of dead crows on the ground in the Central Valley Greenway near Still Creek and the Ministry of Forests, which is responsible for investigation mysterious avian deaths, has no explanation for it. Residents call this a tragedy - Stephen King calls it an idea.

Archeologists in Mexico have uncovered a headless life-sized statue at ancient Maya city of Oxkintok and say it is so well-defined that you can see its buttocks, shoulder blades, “the marked pectorals, the middle part that could be the hanging belly and the part of the member.” This kind of report is what happens when archeologists spend too much time digging and not enough time dating.

Cat lovers have been around longer than first thought as new evidence was uncovered showing felines were domesticated 12,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent near the Tigris and Euphrates rivers at about the time ancient humans transitioned from hunting to farming. That coincides with the time humans first looked at clay soil and thought it would be great for a litter box.

Forrest Fenn’s treasure, which led to a massive treasure hunt in the Rocky Mountains that resulted in the deaths of at least five people before it was finally found in 2020 just months before Fenn himself died, was auctioned off in pieces this week for just over $1.3 million – with a one-pound gold nugget being the top sale at $55,200 and Fenn’s alleged 22,000-word autobiography sealed in a jar fetching $48,000. No one bid on the note in which Fenn promised the treasure was worth over $2 million.

While filming in a forest near Islamabad, Pakistani actor Ahmed Ali Akbar Pakistani came upon a tree that sounded like it was crying as if it were crying and posted a video on Instagram – some people said the tree was possessed by a spirit while others said it was crying for help fighting climate change, but scientists said it was suffering from "severe dehydration" which causes trees to make crying sounds from inside holes in their bark and trunks. We saw Bark and Trunks open for Guns and Roses.

A substitute teacher at a primary school in Amsterdam got in trouble when he skipped the regular lesson plan and showed forty young students “The Exorcist” after getting them to promise they wouldn’t tell their parents. He would have gotten away with it too if the cafeteria hadn’t served pea soup for lunch.

A bolides or fireball that exploded over Canada last year was not a piece of an asteroid or comet but has been identified as being an object that traveled to Earth from the outer reaches of the Solar System far beyond Pluto – the Oort Cloud – and the 10 cm (4 inches), 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) bolide fell deeper into the atmosphere than any icy object has ever been known to. It was probably carrying a message saying the beings out there hate the name Oort Cloud.

A recent tabloid headline read that there were 1600 Yeti sightings in Alaska recently, but cryptid and Bigfoot fans were disappointed to learn that these “Yetis” were actually Yeti brand coolers which were in a container on a ship which capsized in October 2021 and whose contents are now washing up on shorelines from Seattle to Alaska. Do Sasquatches in British Columbia think these are early Christmas gifts from their secret Santas?

A man from Still Bay, Western Cape, South Africa, started a panic when he posted photos from a beach showing what looked giant alien spiders emerging from the water to wreak terror like the aliens did in “War of the Worlds’ – luckily, biologists were finally able to identify the alien spiders as dead aloe vera plants. Do they come back to life if you rub aloe on them?

NASA's Perseverance rover sent back an audio recording of a dust devil on Mars that was over 387 feet (118 meters) tall, 82 fet (25 meters) wide and spun at a speed of 25mph (40kph). If David Bowie were alive today, he’d probably get the and back together to record the soundtrack to “Ziggy Stardust and the Spidernados From Mars.”

Historical chemists Gleb and Svetlana Zilberstein are attempting to extract genetic material from letters written and signed over 500 years ago in Transylvania by Dracula himself – Vlad the Impaler – in hopes the ancient molecules will reveal more about his health, what he ate and what the atmosphere was like around the man who contributed to the vampire legend. It would be ironic if Vlad the Impaler’s favorite food was shish kabob.

Officials from the Department of Animal Care and Control in Los Angeles issued to a girl named Madeline a real license to own a unicorn— provided she can find one, keep it where it can get ample exposure to sunlight, moonbeams and rainbows and have its horn polished at least once a month with a soft cloth. Enterprising individuals have already noticed the regulation doesn’t say anything about entering it in the Kentucky Derby.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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