Mar 29, 2024 I Paul Seaburn

Two-Headed Aliens, Cinematic Chupacabras, Bigfoot Hunting License, a Conscious Sun and More Mysterious News Briefly

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

The ongoing saga of the British royal family and, in particular, Princess Catherine’s surgery, disappearance, photo alterations and cancer announcement, seems to have been commented on by every living expert, which means it’s time to check in with a dead one: Nostradamus; the 15th century astrologer and seer predicted the "King of the Isles" would be "driven out by force” and will be "replaced by one who will have no mark of a king" – many royal watchers believe this means King Charles, with his cancer diagnosis, might step down and the British crown must give the throne to Prince Harry, because Prince William would no longer meet the requirements to be the King of England if he’s taking care of Kate. Have we reached six degrees of Prince Andrew yet?

A new study found that 30 percent of British citizens believe in the existence of aliens and UFOs, and 40 percent of those are convinced the aliens are 5 feet tall and walk on two legs like humans, but the real surprise was what Brits think their extraterrestrial bodies look like – they see them with two heads, three eyes, no ears, gills, webbed feet, green wispy hair, 360-degree vision, mind-reading capabilities and an ability to change colors like a chameleon. Captain Kirk is thinking, “But the females still look like green humans … right?”

Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital announced the world’s first successful transplant of a genetically-edited pig kidney into a 62-year-old man living with end-stage kidney disease in a four-hour operation they hope will pave the way for using pig kidneys to alleviate the acute shortage of human kidneys and other organs for transplants – the patient is receiving drugs to prevent his immune system from attacking the kidney, which had 69 genomic edits to deactivate pig viruses and other fatal diseases; the Food and Drug Administration approved the one-time experimental procedure and wants the transplanted kidney to work for more than two years. That’s enough time for people to finally tire of ‘pig man’ references from Seinfeld.

The most famous Muppet now as a dinosaur ancestor named after him as researchers who found a fossil lost for over 40 years at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History identified it as a 200 million-year-old proto-amphibian with a "cartoonishly wide-eyed face" and a crooked smile that inspired them to name the species Kermitops gratus after Kermit the Frog – it was found in the Red Bulls fossil area of Texas by curator and paleontologist Nicholas Hotton III and is now thought to be from the order temnospondyls, which are the common ancestors of Lissamphibia, the group that includes all modern amphibians, such as frogs, salamanders and caecilians. Miss Piggy is locking herself in her dressing room until she gets a fossil too.

In a new paper in the journal Nature Machine Intelligence, Loughborough University’s Dr. Andrea Soltoggio and colleagues call to our attention the many similarities between recent machine learning advances that are heading to creating a collective machine-learned intelligence or collective AI and The Borg, the cybernetic beings with the linked hive-mind in the Star Trek universe, which operate and share knowledge through a linked hive-mind – the researchers see “ a future where sustainable, evolving, and sharing collective of AI units are likely to emerge” but they won’t be dangerous because these AI units “will implement democratic and collaborating collectives.” Someone check to see if Captain Picard is face-palming.

If you see disturbingly distorted faces of demons wherever you look, a new study reveals you may not be possessed but instead are suffering from an extremely rare disease called prosopometamorphopsia (PMO), which causes people to perceive other people’s faces as having altered shapes, colors, sizes and facial features – researchers from Dartmouth College (USA) examined a 58-year-old man who didn’t see demons in photos or on screens but saw them when face-to-face with real humans; it is a visual disease, not a mental illness, so a different treatment needs to be developed.

I either need a doctor or a dermatologist.

While promoting her new book, ‘Becoming Bulletproof: Life Lessons from a Secret Service Agent’, Evy Poumpouras, a ‘presidential close protection detail’ Secret Service agent during the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations, tells of the many ghost encounters she had or heard about at the haunted White House, including keys jingling at night, phantom voices, unexplained footsteps, spooky feelings on the state floor and a portrait of President John F. Kennedy looking down which she says “there were moments when you'd walk by and you’d just get chills” – Poumpouras says she never told anyone while she was working in the White House because “I wanted to keep my job.” That must be tough being around the ghost of Lincoln who’s not too fond of security protection.

In India, UFO investigator Sabir Hussain revealed that there have been many UFOs reported recently on the Neelankarai-Mahabalipuram seacoast where two nuclear energy plants are located, and a police sub-inspector named Syed Abdul Kader has been watching them since 2020 and has two videos showing their speed and unusual movements – Hussain says Kader's videos were taken just days after former Director General of Police Prateep V. Philip took photos of a UFO on [the] Muttukadu sea shore near Chennai in August 2023, but Indian government officials have not responded to requests for information. We’ve come a long way from the days when Indian UFOs were blamed on flying carpets.

It’s not just nuclear plants but oil rigs have also been attracting UFOs as a worker in Tampico, Mexico, has released photos taken in October 2023 of UFOs directly over a 'jack-up' (a barge fitted with three long support legs that can be raised or lowered) – one of the UFOs was described as triangular, while another has at least 10 lights circling its base – Tampico is often referred to as the Area 51 of Mexico due to local tales of an underwater alien base called Amupac which protects the coast from hurricanes and other natural disasters and where UFOs have been seen regularly. Could it just be that extraterrestrials like tacos and guacamole?

We don’t know why some many people think it is OK to steal Bigfoot statues from yards, but we’re happy to report that they are occasionally recovered, as was the case in Memphis, Tennessee, recently when a 250-pound Sasquatch statue stolen from outside the home of Jennifer Jordan in February was recovered by an unnamed Good Sasquatch Samaritan who heard about the theft and tracked down the maroon truck seen stealing it, found the statue in the owner’s yard and returned it to Jordan, who says her neighbors can’t wait to see ‘Sassy’ dressed in holiday outfits again. Bigfoot says: “If you can lift a 250-pound statue into a pickup truck, you can get a job delivering them, not stealing them.”

If you have ever wondered what a real vampire looks like, forensic researcher Cícero Moraes used reconstruction technology on remains of a woman found in a mass grave discovered on the Venetian island of Lazzaretto Nuovo where a bubonic plague quarantine facility was located until the early 1600s – the woman was found with a brick in her mouth and Moraes was trying to determine if it was placed there while she was still alive out of fear that the sick woman was a vampire; using the data, Moraes created an image of the 60-year-old woman both with and without the brick and determined she had indeed chewed on it before she died. Stories like this can make one regret enjoying vampire movies.

Just when interest in astronomy has begun to surge because of the stunning images from the James Webb Space Telescope, Patrick Slane, the director of NASA’s Chandra X-ray Center, sent a letter to employees warning that NASA's new budget proposal is severely reducing funding for Chandra and it could be shut down in a few years with no replacement in sight - the Athena X-ray observatory being developed by ESA will not be sensitive enough to follow spaceborne signals back to their faint sources like Chandra can, nor identify neutron stars or study black holes. We’re still a long way from setting foot on other planets – why stop setting eyes on them in the meantime?

If you need another reason to fear ChatGPT and other large language models, a new study of hundreds of college and graduate students, published in the International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, found that those who used ChatGPT the most for schoolwork also reported more procrastination, more memory loss, and a drop in grade point average – the researchers found that ChatGPT made schoolwork easy and reduced cognitive effort, but they cautioned that students focused on good grades may avoid the chatbots out of fear of getting caught, thus skewing usage towards poor-performing students who may already have memory loss and procrastination tendencies. What will happen when the chatbots learn to procrastinate?

While you’re watching the Sun disappear during the solar eclipse, you may want to ponder the ancient theory of "panpsychism” which proposes that the Sun is conscious – Rupert Sheldrake proposes in a new interview in Popular Mechanics that "The link between minds and physical systems seems to be through rhythmic electromagnetic fields, which of course are present in our brains. They are also present in and around the Sun, and these could be the interface between the solar mind and the body of the Sun", which this doctor of biochemistry claims is proof that the Sun is conscious. If Sol is conscious, will it get embarrassed having billions of people staring at it?

Do I need eclipse glasses to look at myself?

This week’s ghost story comes from the scary town of Kent in the UK where Laura and Darren Smith were looking for the keys to their Audi TT, so they checked the CCTV recordings to see if they dropped them and were shocked to spot a ‘white figure’ hovering over their sports car for ten seconds before floating away; they checked again the following night and again saw the white figure float to the Audi TT’s driver's side door, then appear to penetrate it and enter the car; the couple eventually found the car keys in a handbag that had been thoroughly searched before, causing the couple to believe the ‘ghost’ put them there – viewers of the video on social media speculated it was a monk’s spirit from a nearby abbey, the ghost of Laura’s recently deceased mother, or a spider with no legs. We saw The Legless Spiders open for Adam and the Ants.

From the ‘Be Careful What You Witch For’ file comes news from Angola that around 50 people died in Camacupa after being forced to drink an herbal potion to prove they were not sorcerers or witches – the concoction was  administered by ‘legitimate’ local healers or ‘marabouts’ who have used this ruse for eons to rid the area of competing witches and warlocks who promise their followers riches but instead just take their money and run – the predominantly Catholic country has long tried to eliminate traditional customs. Remember, only clowns drink things that look, smell or taste funny.

The latest cryptid to get its own Netflix series is the Chupacabra – Mexican actor Iñaki Godoy stars as Juan Ruiz, a young graphic novel artist who is the victim of experiments by an evil scientist which turn him into a goat-sucking chupacabra who is seen on video-surveillance cameras killing pets and wild animals in Washington state, where he becomes known as the “The Terror of Tacoma” – also getting their cryptid fifteen minutes of fame are a succubus and a banshee who team up with the Chupacabra. If you’re watching this while eating pizza, avoid washing it down with red wine or cherry soda.

It seems that 2024 is fast becoming the Year of the Chupacabra as Bright Eye Pictures and Burning Bulb Publishing has released ‘The Legend of El Chupacabra’ – a film about a Chupacabra who terrorizes the tiny town of Blufkin, Texas, by killing people instead of small animals; to the rescue comes Pete Mackey, who reunites with his childhood friends from the Chupacabra Club who swore a blood oath to rid Blufkin of the goat-sucking cryptid. A blood oath to catch a blood-sucker sounds like a recipe for a bloodbath.

Proving real-life monsters are scarier than fiction, TikTok user @viridianaochoaa terrified millions of followers and social media users (nearly 30 million) with a video of a hole in the wall of a mechanical workshop in Saltillo, Mexico, which made the user feel like she was being watched, only to see and record a non-blinking creepy eye peering through it – the odd-shaped eye appeared in a second video but then disappeared; inspections turned up no ways for a cat or another animal or a human to get behind the wall, and the lack of reflection on the eye and lack of noise in general gave it a paranormal eeriness. @viridianaochoaa is probably sick of people saying, “We’ll keep an eye out for it.”

Don't run with scissors - you'll put your eye out!

Magic mushrooms are having a moment and many people who would like to find them and some of their tasty but not psychedelic cousins are using artificial intelligence to find them – unfortunately, Public Citizen reports that using AI identification tools or mushroom ID software to determine if a ‘shroom is magic or edible is a “high-risk activity that requires real-world skills” to find, see, smell, touch, and closely examine a mushroom’s cap, especially the underside, and where the mushroom is growing in order to correctly identify it … things that can’t be learned just by looking at photos. If your chatbot says “Uh-oh!”, it’s probably too late.

From the Fortean phenomena file comes the unusually heartwarming story of a rare two-headed western rat snake at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Powder Valley Nature Center which developed inflammation of its ovaries which could lead to infection, so the Saint Louis Zoo’s veterinary team decided to remove the abnormal ovaries – the operation was successful but the recovery will take about a month, at which time the otherwise healthy two-headed snake will resume a tour of the state where people can learn more about a pair of conjoined identical snake twins that never completely separated managed to survive since 2017 with two heads. Which head paid the bill?

The Stevens County Sheriff’s Office in Washington state received a call recently from an unnamed hunter who wondered about the legality of hunting for Bigfoot in the Big Meadow Lake area on an upcoming hunting trip in April; specifically, he wanted to know if it is illegal and, if not, would a regular hunting license cover Sasquatch hunting; the man also promised to avoid shooting any female Bigfoot – a Stevens’s County Sheriff told the man that Big Meadow Lake is in Pend Oreille County Sheriff jurisdiction so he’d have to call that office, and that there are no Sasquatch in Stevens County anyways because “one of our deputies would have accidently hit one with a patrol car by now!” If Bigfoot buys a gun legally, can it hunt humans under the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law? (Asking for a Seattle friend.)

Our celebrity UFO believer this week is talk show host, actress and comedian Whoopi Goldberg, who said on her show this week that  "They're already here" and "They're watching us" because “I think aliens are like circling us, waiting for us to get it together, so they can come on down" – she tells doubters “"I don't know why everybody else is so surprised. We're not the only ones in the universe. We're just not." Do you believe her or was Guinan drinking some alien booze while tending bar on ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’?

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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