How curious!

April 15, 2008 at 2:00 am 2 comments

I’ve collected some choice stories for ThinkingShift’s How Curious! regular feature. Our world can still be wondrous, bizarre, amusing and touching despite all the cruelty that goes on.

Dinosaur did it. Our first story suggests that giant pterodactyls might still be cruising the skies or that a Washington man pulled over by police has been smoking the whacky tobaccy. A 29-year old dude smashed his car into a streetlight at 11.20pm. The cops arrived and this dude’s excuse – one word – pterodactyl. Now this guy might have been smoking magic mushrooms but reports of giant winged creatures have come out of Africa and people in Texas in 1976 reported sightings of enormous flying creatures with faces like cats. Texas: mmm…isn’t this the home state of Prez Bush? Say no more! So next time you’re faced with explaining things to the cops, simply say the pterodactyl did it. Source: Fortean Times

We’re not that smart. Apparently, the Boskops were smarter than us. The Boskops were early humans who lived in southern Africa between 30,000 and 10,000 years ago. Fossil records tell us they were similar to modern humans but with child-like faces and huge melon-shaped heads that encased a brain 30% larger than our own. And according to a cognitive scientist, the Boskops probably had a mental life beyond anything we can imagine – fabulous memories, more insightful and self-reflective than modern humans. But the jury’s still out on this question as far as I can tell: if they were so smart, why are they extinct? Source: Discover Magazine

Melting mole. Should you need to bore your way through ice, grab the nearest mole. In Antarctica, there are hairless pink mole-like creatures that have body temperatures of 110 degrees. They live in labyrinthine tunnels under the ice and bore their way through ice with their heads, melting it along the way to scoffing a penguin or two. The bony plates on the animals’ heads radiates heat, melting ice so that poor penguins fall through and become dinner. Source: Discover Magazine.

Knut: psychopathic bear. Knut’s a pretty famous and cute polar bear who lives at Berlin Zoo. I have to admit I don’t visit zoos because I hate to see animals as spectator sport, for humans to ogle at. And Knut’s keepers now say that Knut has turned into a publicity seeking psychopath and “a combination of abused child-soldier and abused child-star — treated as a useful spectacle, with too little regard for his long-term psychological well-being”. Apparently, he chucks a hissy fit if he’s not the centre of attention. Sad. Source: The Atlantic.

Caffeine to the rescue. I gave up coffee in January, well reduced my intake really. Maybe that was a bad move. Because it seems that caffeine might just protect the brain from dementia by blocking the damage cholesterol can inflict on the body. The ‘brain blood barrier’ is a filter which protects the central nervous system from harmful chemicals and cholesterol apparently makes this barrier leaky. Caffeine appears to stabilise this barrier. No word on how many coffees per day or whether they can be my beloved vanilla-flavoured lattes. Wonder if caffeine would make our brains grow to the size of the Boskops?! Source: BBC News


Entry filed under: Animals, Archaeology, How curious!.

Being human New Zealand sojourn

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Patrick Lambe  |  April 15, 2008 at 2:42 am

    You did check out the date on the melting mole story? 🙂

  • 2. thinkingshift  |  April 15, 2008 at 3:13 am

    yep, it’s a hoax 🙂 it’s me checking if I actually (a) have any readers apart from you Patrick; and (b) if said readers are awake and astute – and I see you are! But I couldn’t resist, it’s such a fabulous story even if it is a hoax.


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