TERMITES FIND NEW AND EXPENSIVE DIETThe capital of China's Sichuan province, Chengdu, is suffering more than 3 million Pounds of damage yearly to its more up-to-date buildings. This is because of the termites that now not only eat wood but also concrete, according to a March 1995 report in the China Daily.
DINOSAURS BLOWN AWAYIt may sound demeaning, but a new theory states that the non-avian dinosaurs may have been blown into extinction by a strong wind. The crash of a large asteroid into the Earth could have created "hypercanes" of a velocity of as high as 300 meters per second, according to the work of Kerry Emanuel of M.I.T. His theory, publicized in February 1995, could explain how apparently only the feathered dinosaurs survived, those more popularly known as "birds."
FLOWERY FOODParthasarthy ate two 47-inch-tall rose bushes in Coimbatore, an Indian city. The plants took an hour and a half to consume. Why did he want to do such a thing? According to an account in the January 21, 1995 Western Morning News, it was to win a place in the Guinness Book of Records. But he is not satisfied with setting only one record--his next project is to gobble up 625 chillies.
A TALK OF OFF-KILTER TOMATOESCanadian scientists heard some tomatoes request a drink. According to a report, publicized in the January 27, 1995 Western Morning News (among many other venues), the sounds the plants made were detected when diminutive microphones were attached to them. These mikes picked up high-frequency sounds only from dried-out tomatoes.
MUTANT RODENT RUMORSMoscow's mayor, Dr. Gavriil Popov, was asked--during a televised 1990 phone-in--whether 3-foot-long rats really roamed the city's subway tunnels. Whether the rodents were of that size or not, the Moscow underground labyrinths--some of them dug more than four centuries ago--were rife with the animals. The number of rats in Moscow was roughly the same as the number of humans--unlike New York City, where they outnumbered the people 10-to-1.
SHEEP DISRESPECTFUL OF DEAD; FERRETS APPARENTLY LESS SOThe town of Orwell, Vermont, had been during 1991 using sheep to save $250 a year in mowing costs at the town's cemeteries. After receiving a petition bearing the signatures of 136 people, who deemed the munching sheep to be disrespectful to the dead, officials discontinued their use.
In Salisbury, England, however, ferrets were being used in a cemetery to get rid of the rabbits who consumed floral wreaths and made their homes under the tombstones.
BIRDS ON THE RUNAccording to the February 6, 1989 Daily Post,Thames Valley police donned running shoes on February 5, 1989 to pursue two five-foot-tall "lovebirds," which had escaped from Grange Farm, Radnage, Marlow, Bucks, England, earlier that weekend. The mating pair of Rheas (a South American flightless species) were expected to set them a merry chase--as such birds can reach speeds of 35 mph.
OUT OF PLACE--AND TIME?According to his own account as related in the April 25, 1990 Kansas City Star, Paul Perryman (a park ranger) was driving his horse-drawn cart in Grandview on April 23, 1990. To his and his horse's discomfiture, a blue, cone-shaped spinner (which fits over the hub of an airplane propeller) apparently fell from the sky and landed 100 feet away from them. He never saw it descend, but heard a "pop." Restraining his panicking horse, he waited until the thing stopped spinning on the ground before picking it up. He next called the police. The FAA soon checked out whether any pilots had lost the part off their planes. None had, as far as they could ascertain and, weirdly enough, according to investigators' surmises, the part may well be of World War II vintage.
IMPROVES WITH AGEMany people today would not want to eat a chocolate bar manufactured in 1901, especially if it had not been refrigerated. It was reported in the June 20, 1991 Early Times that a descendant of one Lance Corporal William Fryer sent a chocolate bar to Brigadier Malcolm Cubiss, curator of the Prince of Wales Own Regiment of Yorkshire Museum, in York, England. Cubiss tested the chocolate in 1991, finding that it had remained edible and still tasted of chocolate. Its original owner, Fryer, who died in 1901, had received the bar in a presentation box of six, one of thousands sent by Queen Victoria to British troops fighting the Boers.
BEWARE OF BURNING GORILLAS!A large statue decorated the entrance of Wild Water Rapids Water Park. It was a 50-foot-tall mock-up of a gorilla (valued at $10,000 until it caught fire on Tuesday, January 3, 1989). The blaze was visible from a mile away, and took 15 minutes for the Fire Department to put out; a real Kong-sized fire.
Mixed Bag appears regularly in STRANGE MAGAZINE.