A roundup of mysterious, paranormal and strange news stories from the past week.
A study to find the origin of wine used a high-quality chromosome-level reference genome of the wild grapevine progenitor Vitis sylvestris and re-sequenced over 3,000 individual grapevine plant samples, leading to the discovery of previously undocumented varieties, especially from old vineyards in Armenia, and a determination that wine grapes were domesticated roughly around the same time about 11,000 years ago in Western Asia and in the Caucasus region. Winemaking then spread around the world as humans sought a cure for hangovers.
It turns out the Napoleon complex is real as a study published in Personality and Individual Differences found that shorter people tend to have three “darker traits” they develop in order to attempt to offset the inadequacy they feel towards their height – those traits are psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism. Before you tall people get too smug, Randy Newman’s “Short People” song concluded that “short people are just the same as you and I".
Ricou Browning, the actor and stuntman who ‘rose’ to fame as the menacing Gill-Man in “Creature From the Black Lagoon” and its sequels, and who was also the creative force behind the original Flipper movie and TV show, died recently at the age of 93. If you’re sending flowers, the most appropriate might be a nice bouquet of seaweed and lily pads.
The wreck of the Ironton, the 191-foot cargo vessel that collided with a grain hauler on Lake Huron in September 1894 and sank both boats, has finally been found by the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary hundreds of feet deep on the lake’s bottom and said to be “remarkably preserved" with the lifeboat still attached - the Thunder Bay sanctuary is a "shipwreck alley" with nearly 200 old wrecks. “200 Old Wrecks” is also what they call the groupies at a Rolling Stones after-concert party.
The Dusky Tetraka, a small olive-colored and yellow-throated bird whose last confirmed sighting was in 1999, has been spotted by an expedition team in two different locations in the tropical forests of northeastern Madagascar – the Dusky Tetraka had been one of the top 10 most wanted lost birds by the Search for Lost Birds. To see this Most Wanted list, you need to find a bird sanctuary with a post office.
Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, is in charge of the late Queen Elizabeth’s beloved corgis, Sandy and Muick, and claims when the dogs bark at nothing and there are no squirrels in sight, she thinks they see the queen's ghost passing by. It’s probably the queen who makes them bark at Cavalier King Charles Spaniels too.
Residents of Lincoln County, Tennessee, say they are being harmed physically and financially by a strange black "whiskey fungus", also known as Baudoinia compniacensis, which feeds on ethanol vapor from six nearby Jack Daniel's barrel houses – the residents fear their towns will be choked out by the whiskey fungus when Jack Daniel’s builds 14 more. Can they still call it “old time” whiskey if the people living next door never become old timers?
While the Loch Ness monster continues to be monster non grata in Scotland, some people in Clevedon on the Somerset coast of England photographed what they claim was Nessie or a relative in the channel next to the town’s Victorian Pier – the shape was several feet long, moving in the water and didn’t resemble a local porpoise or seal. Does Eoin O’Faodhagain, the man with so many Loch Ness monster on the loch’s webcam, get credit if he saw the story on the Nessie cam?
A doctoral student in the field of insects at the University of Arkansas was entering a Walmart in Fayetteville when he noticed a giant insect on the side of the building, caught it and determined it was a Jurassic-era giant lacewing which had not been seen in the U.S. for over 50 years and was initially mislabeled as an “antlion.” Something mislabeled at Walmart – what a shock!
Police in Peru arrested a 26-year-old former food delivery man for having a mummified human between 600 and 800 years old in his house, stored in an isothermal bag he had once used to deliver food to people's homes – he called her "Juanita" and said she was his "spiritual girlfriend" who slept with him for over 30 years, but was disappointed to find out that Juanita is actually a Juan. Imagine how his former customers feel when they remember how they thought it was cute when he said he was working to support his ‘mummy’.
Jhonatan Acosta of Bolivia claims he got lost on a hunting trip in the Amazon and survived alone for 31 days by drinking his own urine and rainwater caught in his boots, and by eating insects – he was found by a specially trained human-sniffing dog named “Titan.” Poor Titan will never complain about the smell of other dogs’ butts again.
Storm chaser Stan Dorroh was in Starkville, Mississippi, recently when he photographed an extremely rare “horseshoe vortex cloud” – a cloud that spins and folds itself all at once into the shape of and aerial horseshoe … he said it disappeared quickly and the North Mississippi Storm Chasers & Spotters Facebook page where he posted the photo says “This has nothing to do with missiles, UFOs, and balloons.” Residents of Starkville just want to know if the horseshoe is lucky before they head to the racetrack.
A recent inspection of the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) set up to look into UFO sightings found that there are only three full-time workers at its small headquarters office in Crystal City, Virginia – a situation one visitor compared to a “cave of winds.” Did anyone check to see if they were in the back parking lot with binoculars looking for balloons?
A new study used machine learning to generate "brain age" estimates from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of sleep-deprived people's brains and found that just one night of complete sleep deprivation produces changes in the brain similar to those seen after one or two years of aging. New definition of irony – machine learning tells us that staying up all night to finish a term paper is worse for your brain than using machine learning to write one.
Astronomers using the Hubble space telescope to study the Carina Nebul discovered a space caterpillar or a Bok globule – a caterpillar-shaped, two light years long object made of small clouds of gas and dust that are packed so densely that they block visible and ultraviolet light. Space caterpillars are not dangerous unless they're attached to space tomato plants.
Jon Paul Kennedy and his family members, who call themselves the 'real life Addams family' because they are in the ghost hunting business and drive around in a hearse, now say their own house is haunted – they claim to hear a little girl crying and smell rotten eggs in the house they moved into in September 2022. Has anyone tried pointing an EMF sensor at “Mrs. Addams” while she’s cooking breakfast?
A video from Nigeria shows what witnesses called a humanoid “Half man, half creature” with the body of a man and the head of a horse sliding down a roof – while some witnesses thought it was a chimera, others suspected a man in a costume, but the video ends before we can find out. Someone needs to check and see when the auditions were held for “Nigeria’s Got Talent.”
Scientists at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) have successfully recorded brain activity from freely moving octopuses by implanting electrodes and a data logger directly into the octopuses – during 12 hours of sleeping, eating and moving around their tank, the data showed several distinct patterns of brain activity, some of which were similar in size and shape to those seen in mammals, while others were very long lasting, slow oscillations that have not been described before. Those mysterious ones could be the octopuses wondering why there aren’t any other good TV shows like SpongeBob SquarePants.
For the first time ever, Egyptian officials released photos of an ancient 52-foot-long (16 meters) Book of the Dead papyrus scroll recently discovered in a coffin in a tomb near the Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara – it contains ancient illustrations of gods and scenes from the afterlife as well as instructions to help guide the dead in the afterlife. Instruction #1: Do not under any circumstances lose this scroll.
The latest invasive species to hit Florida is the brown basilisk, more commonly known as the "Jesus Christ Lizard" for its ability to run on the surface of a pond, and scientists are worried because the lizards like to eat disease-bearing mosquitos and could spread the diseases, as well as wipe out native butterflies and other insects. Whatever you do, don’t catch them and put them in water jars hoping they’ll turn it into wine.