Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Monsters In The Mona Lisa

An artist claims he has found 'animal faces' unnoticed for over 500 years in the most famous painting in the world. Here's one of them :

From the UK Sun :

Ron found another hidden image — the crocodile or snake — by following instructions in another part of da Vinci's writings suggesting to tip the painting at a 45 degree angle. This was supposedly where the angle of the light was best and led to the least amount of reflection.

The instructions also called for the viewer to put their eyes on the same level as the horizon in the painting.

From this he was able to make sense of the line in the passage about how to paint envy which reads: "Make her heart gnawed by a swelling serpent", as there is such a creature emerging from her right breast.

You might need a handful of magic mushrooms to find them without da Vinci's instructions.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pug Life

Tiny high-definition cameras are giving us amazing point-of-views from the daily lives of not only animals in the wild, but our urban animal friends as well :

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Don't They Mean Humans Exhibit Ape-Like Behaviour?

How strange it is that apes can show "human-like behaviour" when they were running around this planet for millions of years before humans came along. Maybe they taught us to use tools...

Do apes have access to genetic memories of previous generations? Did these torture lab apes know the sun existed for the 3 decades they were held against their will? They can scarcely believe what they are seeing, but they're not afraid. They're delighted, and laughing. It's like they're hugging each other saying, "We made it! We're finally free!"

We were told for most of the 20th century that apes were not like humans, they had no sense of self. The arrogance in believing that we were alone of all the animals in knowing what we are is beyond belief and seems an incredibly primitive way for such a supposedly advanced species to think :

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A bridge climb that will make your toes tingle and your stomach lurch. Even on YouTube, it kicks in the adrenalin :

Sunday, September 04, 2011

The World's Fastest, Tallest, Steepest, Wildest, Most Airtime Rollercoasters

Kingda Ka in New Jersey, USA, claims to have the world's highest drop of 456 feet, and is also one of the fastest :

Superman Ride Of Steel, Six Flags, New England, USA, with up to 10 periods of weightlessness, or "airtime" :

Takabisha, Japan is, for the moment, the world's steepest rollercoaster, with 121 degree incline :

Formula Rossa, in Abu Dhabi, claims to be the world's fastest, accelerating to more than 250kmh in four seconds :

Expedition GeForce, Germany, provides seven, brief periods of airtime :

Eejanaika in Fuji highlands, Japan, is simply the world's wildest rollercoaster :

You will believe that a man can fly :

Saturday, August 20, 2011

There are not many physical things that humans can do that no other creatures of the animal world are incapable of replicating, but these incredible feats surely must be some of them. In particular, watch from 4:35 and 5:13. Great music, too :

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Volcanoes blowing 'smoke rings' of steam and gas are not unusual, but it sure is a beautiful event.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

An unexplained piece of roadkill found in Minnesota. A mutant badger, maybe....

Full Story Is Here

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Maybe we learned to keep dogs as pets, hundreds of thousands of years ago, by watching our hairier relatives :

That's one damn impressive cloud face :

You can see the face forming in the storm front at about 1.15m :

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Nobody is born a racist :

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Whatever it is, it's quite pretty, and no doubt it utterly entranced and brought magnificent excitement to those who witnessed it, and caught these clips :

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

You can jump out of a plane without a parachute, and survive :

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A huge, fast-spreading sinkhole opens up in Texas :

Monday, July 04, 2011

Everything looks spectacular at 1000 frames a second :

Monday, June 27, 2011

Do You Get The Feeling Humans Are Not Supposed To Know Cats Can Do This?

Monday, June 20, 2011

'Shelf' clouds, occasioally seen but not often caught on video in such detail, are beautiful, remarkable and just a little bit freaky :


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

How Japanese Zookeepers Deal With Attacks From Escaped Animals : Poke It With A Stick, Fall Over

Two videos that show how Japanese zookeepers rehearse emergency response scenarios for keeping visitors safe in the event of, say a rhino rampage....

...or a clearly angry and agitated polar bear :

This overacted transquilised 'ape' collapse is some beautiful work.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

There Really Was A "House Of Horrors"

A house with false walls, corridors that lead nowhere, windows that open only onto brick walls, has become a staple of both horror movies and crime fiction, but such a house really did exist, in Chicago, in the last years of the 19th century :
....a maze of windowless rooms with doorways opening to brick walls, oddly angled hallways, stairways to nowhere, doors openable only from the outside, and a host of other strange and labyrinthine constructions.

Holmes repeatedly changed builders during the construction of the Castle, so only he fully understood the design of the house, thus decreasing the chance of being reported to the police.

After the completion of the hotel, Holmes selected mostly female victims from among his employees (many of whom were required as a condition of employment to take out life insurance policies for which Holmes would pay the premiums but also be the beneficiary), as well as his lovers and hotel guests. He tortured and killed them. Some were locked in soundproof bedrooms fitted with gas lines that let him asphyxiate them at any time. Some victims were locked in a huge soundproof bank vault near his office where they were left to suffocate.

The victims' bodies were dropped by secret chute to the basement, where some were meticulously dissected, stripped of flesh, crafted into skeleton models, and then sold to medical schools. Holmes also cremated some of the bodies or placed them in lime pits for destruction. Holmes had two giant furnaces as well as pits of acid, bottles of various poisons, and even a stretching rack.
The builder of the house, Dr Henry Howard Holmes, is known as the United States' first documented serial killer. He admitted to the murders of more than two dozen people, but he may have killed as many as 250.

A Harpers Magazine examination from 1943 goes into more detail of this horrific house :
...in 1892 he built on the opposite corner the enormous, improbable structure later to be known as his murder castle. It was more than a hundred and fifty feet long and fifty feet wide, huge and ugly, with three storeys and a basement.

There were “staircases that led nowhere in particular,” blind passageways, hinged walls, false partitions, rooms with no doors and rooms with many doors. All these centered on the second floor of the gloomy, forbidding structure. Holmes’s own apartments were at the front of this floor. A trap door was cut in his bathroom and from it a short hidden stairway led to a windowless cubicle between-floors in the heart of the house; from this a chute dropped straight to the cellar.

Behind Holmes’s apartments were various rooms labeled in contemporary newspaper sketches as “five-door room,” “secret room,” “mysterious closed room” (behind this last was a “dummy elevator for lowering bodies” to the basement), “the black closet,” “room of the three corpses,” “sealed room all bricked in,” “blind room,” “another secret chamber,” “the hanging secret chamber,” and so on–nearly forty rooms in all. Near the rear of the house was an “asphyxiation chamber–no light–with gas connections.” Here the large purchases of gas fixtures becomes meaningful; it apparently was Holmes’s practice to lock victims in this sealed, asbestos-lined room and to turn on the gas. Immediately behind the asphyxiation chamber was another chute down which the bodies could be dispatched to the basement. Some of the rooms on this second storey were lined with iron plates, some had false floors that concealed tiny airless chambers, nearly all had gas connections.

The cellar was perhaps the most remarkable section of the building. It was fitted with operating tables, a crematory, pits containing quicklime and acids, surgical instruments, and various pieces of apparatus which, resembling mediaeval torture racks, never were satisfactorily explained.

The minds of some humans.

Friday, June 03, 2011

I know tornadoes don't really qualify as a "strange thing". They are, of course, very normal. But the citizen reporter footage of the brutal, deadly wave of tornadoes in the United States are too spectacular not to post here. This from Springfield, Massachusetts

The Aftermath :

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

If the activities of humans on Planet Earth are being watched by an alien civilisation, what would they make of Brits chasing discs of cheese down slippery, sodden hillsides in the cold and fog?

Monday, May 30, 2011

This is what you get when you enter 'Cherokee', the name of an American Indian tribe and culture that thrived for longer than the United States has existed, in Google Image search :


Via Reddit
Humans, we do some very, very stupid, and very strange, things :

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I Never Wanted To See Darth Vader Do That

By Darryl Mason

Before you watch this, remember you cannot unwatch it, for now at least there is no way to burn the memory of seeing this from your brain. You can still look away. It's not too late :

Surely George Lucas only allowed this so there is something much worse out there than the Star Wars Holiday Special (see below)?

I don't know what's sadder, the fact that this authorised Star Wars Disney show of so little imagination actually exists, or the riot of absolute disgust Dance Off With The Star Wars Stars has provoked amongst 40-something males who truly believe the original Star Wars movie was the most important event of their childhoods and George Lucas doing anything to stain its memory is like the Pope vomiting on the Bible, over and over again. An attitude best summed up by this YouTube comment :
George Lucas killed my dreams with the prequels, this digs them up out of their graves to defecate on them with a continual stream of piping hot effluent.
I think George Lucas may actually now be trolling the most hardcore of Star Wars fans. If so, Dance Off With The Star Wars Stars is most definitely working.

Anyway, I don't know what Star Wars geeks are complaining about. It's not like George Lucas has only been taking Stars Wars and turning it into spin-off crap for the past decade. He was doing it within a year of the original film's release :

The Star Wars and Disney association that led to that stage show did, however, produce a great piece of poster art :

Grabs from a series of aerial photos of the wreckage left behind by the deadly tornado that swept through the American city of Joplin :

It seems like there is a city-smashing natural disaster in the US every couple of weeks now.

The Full Set Of Aerial Photos Are Here
More incredible tornado footage from the storms currently shredding the American mid-west :

And this from Denton, Texas :

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Florida Soft Shell Turtle specialises in busting the most common turtle-related cliches :

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

NASA UFO Photos ReleasedLink
These are all screengrabs from a series of photos of unidentified objects shot by an astronaut in Earth's orbit, and were published on a NASA website :

More On This And Source Links Here

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

This Is What It's Like To Be Standing Inside A Massive Tornado

Easily, the clearest, most vivid footage anywhere online of a hurricane passing directly overhead. From the Tuscaloosa, Alabama tornado swarm on April 27, 2011 :

You can't blame the cameraman for backing away from the windows when he did. More than 230 people died in those tornadoes.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bizarre Bird Carcass Found In Iran

Locals in northwestern Iran claim the above bird lived in a local cave. A skull like that of a reptile, canine teeth, small wings usually found only on flightless birds. What is it? Nobody knows yet :
The locals found the feathered bipedal creature, which seemed to have died a few days ago, near a remote village of Meshginshahr, IRNA reported on Sunday.

The avifauna of Iran includes a total of 527 species, none of which are similar to the found creature; however, the discovery needs ornithologists to verify the claims.

Scientists believe that fossil evidence demonstrates birds and dinosaurs shared many features such as hollow bones, gastrolith in the digestive system, nest-building and brooding behaviors.

Did a time portal from the age of the dinosaurs open up there recently? Or is it another long thought extinct bird?

Locals are claimed to be hiding the carcass, but hopefully this won't be the last we hear about this creature.

Presumably there'll be enough undamaged genetic material to work out exactly what it is. Then it can be cloned, and sold to zoos around the world.

Imagine one of those harrassing you on a beach for a hot chip? Here! Take them! Take them all!
Baby aardvark. That's all. Just a hairless, baby aardvark :

Galaxy's Most Wanted Terrorist Ben Kenobi Killed

It really suits him, doesn't it? He looks right at home :

From the Galactic Empire Times :
Obi-Wan Kenobi, the mastermind of some of the most devastating attacks on the Galactic Empire and the most hunted man in the galaxy, was killed in a firefight with Imperial forces near Alderaan, Darth Vader announced on Sunday.

In a late-night appearance in the East Room of the Imperial Palace, Lord Vader declared that “justice has been done” as he disclosed that agents of the Imperial Army and stormtroopers of the 501st Legion had finally cornered Kenobi, one of the leaders of the Jedi rebellion, who had eluded the Empire for nearly two decades. Imperial officials said Kenobi resisted and was cut down by Lord Vader's own lightsaber.
The whole story is excellent, and many of the comments are hilarious.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

More Quality Journalism From Rupert Murdoch

This apology printed in the UK Sun newspaper is mind-boggling :

In an article published on The Sun website on January 27 under the headline 'Gollum joker killed in live rail horror’ we incorrectly stated that Julian Brooker, 23, of Brighton, was blown 15ft into the air after accidentally touching a live railway line.

His parents have asked us to make clear he was not turned into a fireball, was not obsessed with the number 23 and didn’t go drinking on that date every month. Julian’s mother did not say, during or after the inquest, her son often got on all fours creeping around their house pretending to be Gollum.
To think they made all these things up about someone who had just died. Appalling.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Tsunami Dog Comes Home

I was going to write a long, detailed piece about how March 2011 was one of the most event-packed, news stuffed, tumultuous, strange, heart-breaking months to have unfolded in my lifetime, but I was only a few paragraphs in when I came across the below cartoon by acclaimed Australian artist @FirstDogOnMoon, which wraps up March better than I could ever dream of doing.

(Click image to enlarge)

You can also see the Tsunami Dog At Sea cartoon, with comments, here at Crikey.

If you're wondering what happened to Tsunami Dog, here's the owner & dog reunion. Tear factor 9 :

The human death toll of the March 11 Japan earthquake and tsunami is beyond 20,000. Unlike Tsunami Dog, most of those swept out to sea were not rescued & did not survive, including hundreds of school children.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

An extraordinary sandstorm in Kuwait :

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Gloating Over Mass Deaths

I'd heard that Americans on Facebook were claiming within hours of the event that the March 11 Japan earthquake and tsunami were, somehow, "revenge for Pearl Harbour", but it took the compilation below to ram home just how truly strange and downright insane this mass FU-ing of the tens of thousands who died, the millions who've had their lives ruined, actually was :

(click image to enlarge or go here)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I might have to file this under Planet Of Shit-Scary, Horrific Things.

Two views of the March 11 tsunami destroying the Japanese port city of Kesennuma.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Crows, They're Up To Something But We're Not Clever Enough To Work Out What

A fascinating but slightly unnerving piece on '6 Ways Crows Are Smarter Than You Think' uncovers these facts :
* Not only can crows recognise human faces, they can hold grudges against the person who owns that face

* Not only can crows communicate detailed information to each other in all that cawing, they can do so to conspire, to plot and plan.

* Crows have regional accents, and recognise where another crow is from by the sounds of their caws.

* Half a million crows descended on a small, farming town. There was a plan to kill and bag a few hundred thousand of them. One crow was shot, and the rest communicated with each other, within minutes, to sound a warning to fly high enough to avoid the guns.

* Crows pass down memories and information to next generations about places to avoid because one crow had been shot there. And it's not a general area, they avoid specific houses where grandpa crow was shot dead all those years ago.

* Crows understand the natural laws of water displacement.

* They can look at a piece of wire and work out if they bend the end into a hook they can use it to pull something tasty that was out of reach into beak range.

* Not only do crows know how to make tools, they know how to make tools which can be used to make more tools.

* Crows can remember the days garbage trucks visit a neighbourhood, and the route they take.

* The smart little fuckers can also learn the pattern and timing of traffic lights.

Lots More Crow Brilliance Here

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Black And White And Totally WTF

BuzzFeed has '50 Unexplainable B&W Photos'. Here's five of the downright most strange :

I wonder if these photos would be more interesting, or much less, if we knew the story behind them?

The Other 45 Are Here

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Too Much Of An Ocean View

The US Navy photographed this incredible sight in the Pacific Ocean, off Japan :

The Tokyo Sway

How far we've come in only a few thousand years. Where once we built cities that could be leveled by a common large earthquake, now we can build cities of gleaming towers that reach to the sky and only sway, instead of collapsing, under the rocking and heaving of one of the largest earthquakes in recorded history :

It's like tempting the ocean to take your life. But it's also a joyous celebration of fearlessness and an astounding confidence that the judgments made are not the wrong ones :

But if you were a youth, if you saw this scene unfolding in front of you, if you were wearing a wetsuit, wouldn't you want to give it a try, too?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Scientists Don't Know Why Earthquakes Come In Clusters

They don't know how yet, but imagine if scientists could look at a pattern of earthquakes and predict an expected size and location for a devastating quake, allowing for necessary evacuations a day or two in advance, then we will have cracked one of the greatest, most devastating, mysteries of Mother Nature.

From the Sydney Morning Herald :
The director of the Australian Seismological Centre in Canberra, Kevin McCue, said yesterday's quake in Japan, the largest recorded there, would not have been linked to the one that struck Christchurch last month.

''This earthquake is a rupture of the plate boundary,'' Professor McCue said. ''The Christchurch earthquake was not. It was an earthquake on the conjugate fault, a fault that's at an angle to the main fault and 100 kilometres away from the plate boundary.

...Professor McCue said earthquakes on plate boundaries often came in quick succession. ''We had a sequence of earthquakes in 1906 where there were at least six 'grade earthquakes' around the Pacific. And now we've had Chile last year and this one,'' he said.

''It's something we observe in all extreme events - they are clustered in time. That's what we observe they do but we don't have an answer for it.''

The Full Story Is Here

Friday, March 11, 2011

Earthquakes as the soundtrack of Planet Earth :

Tectonic: Earthquakes Generate Music in Realtime from Micah Frank on Vimeo.

Wait for the end, it's worth it :

Thursday, March 10, 2011

If you were an alien and came to Earth and saw someone doing this with a piece of wood and some little wheels, you'd have to be impressed, surely. More impressed at least than the many wandering past in the background, completely oblivious to the rare skill & creativity on display :

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

This doesn't qualify as a "strange thing", but is sure is an awesome sight to behold :

Your Funeral, Terminator Style

Methods of cheaply disposing of the recently departed without polluting the environment & using up wood for coffins, or filling the air with smoke from cremations, get steadily more bizarre :
Promessa, in Sweden, has come up with a method of burial that negates the worst aspects of the disposal of remains. They want to freeze human bodies, then shatter them into a million pieces. The body is chilled to around negative 18 degrees Celsius. Once it's cold enough, it's submerged in liquid nitrogen. As the body becomes colder, it gets more brittle. Once it's brittle enough, it's shocked with soundwaves that crumble it into powder.And that's just the start.
And that's just the start.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Okay, Elephants might not be completely terrified of mice, but they certainly do seem to be afraid of them :

But are the Mythbusters wrong? Are elephants really afraid of mice, in the way some humans freak out when they see a spider scurrying towards them?

Or are these elephants in fact purposely trying to avoid stepping on them? Maybe they've had enough experience stepping on small animals as youngsters to not want to get squished rodent between their toes.

Also, it must not be forgotten, that elephants use their trunks like we use our hands. When they're looking around for fruit on a forest floor, their trunks are snuffling around through undergrowth and grass.

It might simply be they know enough to avoid small darting things because snakes, and some rodents, would bite at a trunk that accidentally finds them amongst the fruit and leaf litter around the base of tree..

Or maybe there's simply a kind of heeby-jeebies terror of small animals running up the inside of their trunks and getting caught.

Whatever the reason, the idea proposed by MythBusters that elephants are irrationally scared of mice is ridiculous.

Considering the (however small in scale) level of threat posed by rodents, spiders, snakes to a snuffling trunk, it makes sense that elephants would learn over the years to rear back and step cautiously around a quick moving something they've only just seen or become aware of.

Elephants can hardly be compared to a man or woman standing on a chair shrieking insanely because there's a mouse, spider or monster cockroach darting around the floor.

Elephants have far more dignity than that.

Friday, March 04, 2011

A Christchurch man survived the recent tragic earthquake and found this visitor in his hall :

The intruder, nicknamed 'Rocky', is being auctioned to raise funds for survivors of the February 22 Christchurch earthquake.

More Here

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Dolphins Save Doberman

A beloved Doberman went missing in Florida and wound up in a canal, unable to escape. It took refuge on an almost submerged sandbar, and there it might have died when the tides rose.

But two dolphins decided they could help by alerting humans to the dog's precarious location.

At least, that's how this story read to me, you tell me I'm wrong :
It all started when D'Alessandro and her husband, Sam, walked out of their home....to go fishing. Behind the home is a canal where "we saw these two dolphins and they were splashing and making this big commotion.

Dolphins usually swim through the canal behind the home, as it leads into the Gulf of Mexico, but this time the dolphins weren't just passing through.

"They were just there, in one place, splashing water against the canal wall," she said.

Why would dolphins help a dog in distress? Compassion? Empathy? Maybe one just wanted to prove to the other that he knew how to get humans' attention.

Or maybe it's a mammal code of behaviour not as preciously human as we once imagined.
Dawn Of The Zombie Puppies

He was just one of five puppies euthanised by a vet. His little body was checked for signs of life, nothing, he was tossed into a bin with the bodies of other dead animals.

But the next day :
an animal control officer looked into the bin and discovered that the one pup somehow survived.

"He was just as healthy as could be," Scott Prall told News 9.

The puppy has found a new home.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Bizarre Origins Of Valentine's Day

How did Valentine's Day begin? With the whipping of women with the hides of recently slain dogs and goats in Ancient Rome :

From NPR :

From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain.

The Roman romantics "were drunk. They were naked," says Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, Lenski says. They believed this would make them fertile.

The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be, um, coupled up for the duration of the festival – or longer, if the match was right.

The Full Story Is Here

Fuck A Duck!

"One of them is raping me, I don't care."

Isabella Rosellini's educational videos on the secret sex lives of animals are some of the strangest things you will find on the internet, and man, that is saying something.

Rosellini wrote, produced, directed and stars in all these videos at the Sundance Channel. Educational and entertaining.

And one more, just to prove that dolphins are nature's kinkiest creatures. "Blowhole sex, anything goes".
Back Again

Right, been a bit slack posting to this blog over the past eight months, but many e-mails and comments have convinced me it's time to dive back into the strange, scary and wonderful things this planet has to offer.

I haven't lost my fascination for such things, I just wrote and linked to those kinds of stories on my Twitter stream here :


Thanks for your kind words, and click my profile to get my e-mail address if you think there's something bizarre and fucked up I need to know about, or just message me on Twitter.

Darryl Mason.