Jan 28, 2023 I Paul Seaburn

Dog-walking Ghost, Martian Bear, Beast of Bucks, Mermaid Reward and More Mysterious News Briefly

A new study published in Remote Sensing of Environment looks at the strange occurrences since the 1930s of mysterious white clouds on the surface of the water near the Bahamas – the clouds contain high concentrations of carbonate-rich particles which could be from a submerged platform of carbonate known as the Bahama Banks or from blooms of phytoplankton, but all the study could determine is that the clouds are bigger from March to May and October to December. We know about smoke on the water and clouds in our coffee, but otherwise rock music is no help here.

Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have created a tiny "Terminator 2"-like phase-shifting robot out of microscopic chunks of magnetic neodymium, boron, iron and liquid gallium that can melt and resolidify itself on command – in a demonstration, the tiny robot was able to escape from a cage by melting, flowing through the bars and reforming on the other side. I’ll be back with a copy of “Terminator 2:Judgement Day” for these scientists to watch.

Pareidolia sufferers had a field day with a new photo of the Martian surface taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) which appeared to show the face of an enormous Martian teddy bear with two beady eyes, a button nose and a snout with a mouth grinning into space – most experts agree it’s a gnarly-looking hill in the center of an ancient crater. “Looks like a bear to me,” said Abraham Lincoln on a tortilla.

Israeli archaeologists are baffled by a recently discovered a thousand-year-old hand imprint carved into the stone wall of an ancient moat outside Jerusalem's Old City – they think it may have been an old prank but have no proof. Kids and wet cement – some things never change.

Paleontologists digging in the sedimentary bed of the Lameta Formation in the Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh in central India uncovered 92 dinosaur clutches filled with 256 Titanosauria eggs that averaged around 6.3 inches in diameter - Titanosaurs could reach 100 feet in length so the eggs were strategically placed to avoid being crushed. With the price of eggs, that’s something we all do now no matter how big or small we are.

Before you fry another one with a magnifying glass, consider this new discovery by oncologists at Sorbonne Paris North University that silky ants (Formica fusca) can be trained to detect cancer in urine by finding volatile organic compounds (VOCs) with their antennae. Look for Medicare and Medicaid to soon be joined by Medic-ant.

A team of Stanford scientists analyzed brain activity in a relatively small region of the cortex of the brain of an ALS patient and used a recurrent neural network decoder to convert them into coherent speech at a previously unheard of rate of 62 words per minute, far exceeded the communication rates of other current technologies like eye tracking – the only problem was that the error rate of the recurrent neural network (RNN) decoder was still about 20 percent. Big deal - 62 words per minute with a 20 percent error rate still beats most high school typing class graduates.

A handful of species of the carnivorous pitcher plant have switched from capturing and digesting insects to eating the droppings of mountain tree shrews, summit rats, birds, and bats  as a way to survive a shortage of insects. This is both impressive and frightening, but it won’t make for a good Broadway musical or movie.

Researchers looking for prehistoric crocodile fossils in an abandoned mine in the Franconian Jura area of Bavaria stumbled across the near-complete skeleton of a new species of pterosaur which lived between 157 million and 152 million years and had an unusually shaped bill lined with hundreds of tiny, hooked teeth that allowed it to gulp down seafood prey while wading in ancient ponds and lakes like modern flamingos. This could be the start of a whole new kind of plastic creatures for front yards and gardens.

The Beast of Bucks is back in the Wendover Woods in Aylesbury as a woman driving through this region of Buckinghamshire claims she  saw a “huge” sandy-colored big cat on the grass verge along the M40 heading towards the M25 – another of many reports of a big cat or black panther roaming the area. For most people, the Beast of Bucks is the mean loan officer at the local bank.

A family from New Jersey driving through the historic Civil War battle site in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, say they heard strange noises, then saw “shapes moving in the darkness, they were the size of humans, one of them ran right through the cannon” which they managed to record on video -Gettysburg is a known paranormal hotspot due to the thousands of soldiers who lost their lives fighting there. You know something is scary if it spooks people from New Jersey.

Researchers from the Bauman Moscow State Technical University have developed a robot that can give massages to cosmonauts on the International Space Station in the lower and upper extremities, including knee and elbow joints, while allowing the cosmonauts to continue with their work. If a robot masseuse doesn’t help cosmonaut recruiting, nothing will.

Speaking of space, moon walker Buzz Aldrin got married again at the age of 93 to Dr. Anca Faur, who is 30 years younger than Aldrin and works as executive vice president of Buzz Aldrin Ventures, a company that sells branded Apollo mission merchandise. No more robot massages for old Buzz.

A University of Michigan study on 40 semi free-ranging chimps in the Republic of Congo found that teenage chimps take more risks than adults and throw tantrums when they don’t get their way – just like human teenagers. And just like human adults, senior chimps put the teens in their place by withholding their banana allowance.

Chicken of the Sea, the tuna company with a mermaid on its label, is offering a $1 million reward to anyone who can produce a real live mermaid or valid scientific proof of their existence – the proof can be a video but it must be verifiable. The company is being sued by the Creature from the Black Lagoon for discrimination.

NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter continued its unexpectedly long operational life on the Red Planet by completing its 40th flight – traveling a horizontal distance of 561 feet (171 meters) and remaining in flight for 85.21 seconds at an altitude of 33 feet (10 meters) – and taking photos of tracks of the Perseverance rover running alongside a rocky outcrop. Perseverance must be getting to the point where it wishes NASA had given its robot arm a fly swatter.

Despite what the Hollywood dinosaur movies want you to believe, new research on modern predatory birds indicates that velociraptors like Deinonychus and its relatives may not have used their massive curved claws to slash and disembowel their victims – instead, they used their claws to pin and grasp their helpless prey while they ate them. Or is that just what modern hawks and eagles want you to believe while they wait for the right time to claw you apart?

A couple in Australia believes their motion-sensor CCTV captured the "ghost of a family member" trying to "walk their dog" as they watched a pale figure appear out of their old antiques cabinet and walk 'with purpose' alongside their Australian shepherd dog before disappearing into thin air. Who cares who or what it is as long as the ghost scoops and picks up after the dog on the walk.

Engineers at the University of Colorado Boulder have designed a new, rubber-like film that can leap high into the air on its own after being heated – it is made of liquid crystal elastomers which when heated form a cone that rises up until it suddenly and explosively flips inside out and shoot up to a height of nearly 200 times its own thickness in just 6 milliseconds. “I need some heated socks,” thought LeBron James.

Hikers walking up Beinn Bhuidhe in the Scottish Highlands managed to see and record an extremely rare ice disk which formed in a glen when the current and vortex beneath the frozen surface caused swirling which cut the circle of ice and made it spin – a phenomenon most often seen in the Baltic Sea, around Antarctica, and in the Great Lakes. If you see it in a certain famous loch in northern Scotland, that would make it the Loch Ness Spinster.

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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