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Animals
image Sure you can get a Bonsai Kitten in a glass jar... Or, you could be the envy of all your friends by getting your very own Bonsai Kitten Christmas Tree Ornament. "Notice the splendid use of the tail to form a hanger. Imagine how this will look gracing your yule tide tree. Kids love to watch em blink when they poke at them. And no mess to clean up! The ornament is its' own kitty litter box." If someone were to actually make these (you know, minus a real cat inside... just a picture of the cat on the outside), I bet they'd sell. The tail as hanger is a great touch.
Categories: Animals
Posted by Alex on Fri Dec 10, 2004
Comments (37)
image It's Mister Marbles, the life-size prop dead cat. The attention to detail that's gone into the creation of this thing is amazing: "Mr. Marbles is a cat who turns up dead, floating in a swimming pool. The prop is a jointed cloth construction, with pieces of plastic tubing to keep the limbs rigid, and filled with small air bladders to make it buoyant. The skull was cast in insulation foam in a silicone mold of an actual cat skull. The eyes and teeth are from a taxidermy supply company." It could be the perfect Christmas present for the person who has everything (except a life-size prop dead cat).
Categories: Animals, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Wed Dec 08, 2004
Comments (11)
David Emery has posted an intriguing piece of netlore concerning the gender of Santa's reindeer. Here's the text of the email that's going around:

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, while both male and female reindeer grow antlers in the summer each year (the only members of the deer family, Cervidae, to have females do so), male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter, usually late November to mid December. Female reindeer retain their antlers till after they give birth in the spring.
Therefore, according to every historical rendition depicting Santa's reindeer, every single one of them, from Rudolf to Blitzen ... had to be a female.
We should've known this when they were able to find their way.



David confirms that most male reindeer lose their antlers by early December... but it is possible for younger bulls to keep their antlers until well into the spring. So it's technically possible for Santa's reindeer to be male. However, it does look like it's more probable that Donner, Blitzen, and the rest of them are female, based on the antler evidence.
Categories: Animals, Folklore/Tall Tales
Posted by Alex on Sun Dec 05, 2004
Comments (17)
This story (author unknown) has been 'floating around' the internet for a few months. I found a discussion of it on alt.folklore.urban. There's an easier to read version of it here. It involves a fox terrier named Jasper who eats twelve uncooked yeast rolls that a woman leaves out to rise before baking. The yeast begins to rise in the dog's stomach, causing him to swell up like a balloon:
"He looked like a combination of the Pillsbury dough boy and the Michelin Tire man wrapped up in fur. He groaned when he walked. I swear even his cheeks were bloated."
The next day it's worse. The yeast has begun to ferment inside the dog's stomach, causing Jasper to become drunk: "the darn dog was as drunk as a sailor on his first leave. He was running into walls, falling flat on his butt and most of the time when he was walking his front half was going one direction and the other half was either dragging on the grass or headed 90 degrees in another direction."
Finally, it ends with fermented yeast burps, farts, and poops (that are rock-hard like 'Portland cement'). Now, this all sounds an awful lot like an urban legend, especially since it comes from an anonymous source. Would the yeast actually begin to rise and ferment in the dog's stomach, or would it be killed by stomach acid? I'm not sure. I'm guessing that given the quantity of yeast involved (twelve rolls), the yeast might actually cause the dog's stomach to swell quite a bit... so something like this could happen. Though whether it actually did happen is anyone's guess.
Categories: Animals, Food, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Sun Dec 05, 2004
Comments (13)
I've recently discovered a good blog named The Rambler that delves into a lot of hoaxy material. Recently Mark (who writes The Rambler) posted a disturbing entry about some relatives of his who let their cats run out of control:

They never cleaned the litterbox so the cats defecated all over the house. They particularly liked shoes and closets so getting dressed must have been like camping in Africa. My wife's cat makes so much noise when he's hungry that I can't imagine anyone not feeding one cat let alone 11, but they frequently let them go without food. The mother cat eventually turned cannibalistic and would wait behind furniture or random piles of crap for a kitten to walk by. When one was unlucky enough to do so, she leapt out, killed and ate it.

A cannibalistic mother cat? I'm assuming Mark isn't pulling our leg, but I've never heard of such a thing. Though I should add that my understanding of cat behavior is mostly shaped by the behavior of the one plump and lazy cat who lives with me.
Categories: Animals
Posted by Alex on Mon Nov 29, 2004
Comments (54)
Professor Patrick Schembri, writing in the Sunday Times, reports of a new photo that's been making the email rounds showing a very strange looking animal captured in a bucket. Versions of the email variously claim that the animal was found either at Il-Maghluq in Marsascala, or in Bahrija. Schembri identifies the animal as none other than a Diplocaulus, extinct for 270 million years, which means that the photo almost definitely must be a hoax (either that or it's a major scientific discovery). He writes of the Diplocaulus: "The very distinctive head may have been an adaptation against predators, since the wide head would make Diplocaulus difficult to swallow, or it may have aided the animal to swim by acting as a hydrofoil. Like most other early amphibians, Diplocaulus lived in or near water. It probably fed on insects or fish. It was also considerably larger than the image doing the rounds suggests, since fossils as large as 80 cm in length have been discovered." (via The Anomalist) image
Categories: Animals, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Mon Nov 22, 2004
Comments (19)
If this story was in some other paper, like the Weekly World News, I'd dismiss it as a tall tale, but the material on stuff.co.nz is usually fairly reliable. They report about a (human) mother who has taken to breastfeeding her puppy. What I find interesting is that the reporter took the initiative to interview an anthropology professor about what this woman is doing (or claiming to be doing), and got this interesting nugget of information: "Victoria University associate professor of anthropology Jeff Sissons said he was familiar with a practice among women from Papua New Guinea hill tribes who breastfed pigs, but he had not heard of any other instance of a human breastfeeding another species." Next time I'm at a cocktail party I'm going to try casually mentioning that little gem of trivia.
Categories: Animals, Birth/Babies
Posted by Alex on Wed Nov 17, 2004
Comments (25)
image The Times reports on a group of European researchers who are developing a robotic cockroach. This tiny robot, dubbed InsBot, will infiltrate cockroach communities, assume a leadership role, and then lead the insects out into the light (and to their doom). The researchers hope that someday people will use these robo-roaches as a way of controlling roach infestations. This all sounds so bizarre that I'd assume it was a hoax if it wasn't reported in The Times. But I've got to assume they've done their homework and aren't trying to pull our leg. The researchers are also looking into robotic chickens, sheep, and guinea fowl. (via We Make Money Not Art)
Categories: Animals, Technology
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 16, 2004
Comments (7)
image At first I thought these were real dogs... like some kind of mutant copy-cat version of Bonsai Kitten. But no, the dogs appear to be models. Still, it's a rather odd idea. I can understand buying a model of a dog (I've bought a few myself). But why stick it in a Philippine Tonna shell? On the other hand, if you're looking for a unique gift, this has unique written all over it. Could make a good wedding gift. (via Sect of Rama)
Categories: Animals
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 16, 2004
Comments (29)
image Genetiate is a biotech company working on that one thing the world has been crying out for: glow-in-the-dark deer. It's such a bizarre project, that it screams hoax. The amateur quality of its website reinforces this impression. But I think it's real. Genetiate is a division of Geneticas Life Sciences. Those are the same people who, through yet another division, are creating the hypoallergenic cats. But why create a glow-in-the-dark deer? So that it will more easily be seen by motorists. The site gives this explanation:
"By implanting the gene of a special jellyfish into deer, the transgenic NIGHTSAVE deer produced by GENETIATE (patent pending) have fluorescing hair and skin when illuminated by car headlights. The implanted gene has no other effect on the deer, who appear normal in daylight." The illogical thing about this is that even if they create a couple of these special deer (or even if they create thousands of them), that's hardly going to have an effect on the wild deer population as a whole, who will still be just as invisible to motorists.
Categories: Animals, Science
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 16, 2004
Comments (20)
From The Register comes a news report about a dog who swallowed a mobile phone. The owner of the phone only realized what happened when the phone started ringing... inside the dog's stomach. Now it seems to me that a) most dogs would not swallow something as large as a mobile phone, though it could happen; and b) the acid inside a dog's stomach would pretty quickly short-circuit a phone. Oh, and c) The Register says it got the news report from Ananova. And everyone knows how reliable Ananova is. (via Engadget)
Categories: Animals
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 09, 2004
Comments (10)
I was going through old email when I came across this image of a wolf howling at auroral lights. The person who sent it to me wondered whether or not it's real. A photographer would have to be pretty lucky to catch a scene like that, but that doesn't mean the picture isn't real. My guess would be that it's a composite image... that the images of the sky and the wolf were pasted together for dramatic effect. But that's only a guess.
image
Categories: Animals, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 09, 2004
Comments (14)
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