Monthly Archive: October 2013


The Singing Dogs Of The Congo

Originating in Central Africa, the basenji is one of the strangest dogs in the world. Unlike its other canine counterparts, the basenji cannot bark. Due to the shape of its larynx, it produces unique, warbling vocalizations that have been compared to yodeling.


China’s Nine Familial Exterminations

During the dynastic period of Chinese history, certain regimes resorted to an all-encompassing punishment to handle the worst offenders. Those accused of crimes like treason could be subjected to the “nine familial exterminations,” where not only was the condemned executed, but his entire family as well.


The Sport Played With A Headless Goat Carcass

The sport of polo has traditionally been an exclusive pursuit of the rich. But throughout Central Asia, a more humble version of the sport is played. Called buzkashi, players use a headless goat carcass instead of a ball.


The Native Chilean Who Fought With Blades For Hands

Galvarino was a Mapuche tribesman from Chile who was captured by Spanish conquistadors and had his hands amputated to teach a lesson to his people. However, upon returning to the Mapuche, he instead rallied them to attack the Spanish and joined them in battle with lances lashed to his bloody stumps.


The Insect With Mechanical Gears In Its Legs

The juvenile planthopper jumps with incredible force, accelerating with more than 200 Gs of pressure with each hop. To synchronize their legs, they’ve evolved a pair of interlocking gears so that each leg pushes with the same amount of force. Otherwise, they’d spiral out of control.


Russia’s Fake Ambulances For The Wealthy

In Russia, the traffic is apparently so bad that the rich have taken to hiring fake ambulances to get them places in a hurry. Instead of stretchers and medical supplies, the ambulances have luxurious interiors replete with flat-screen televisions and champagne service.


The Supreme Commander Of An Imaginary US Army Unit

For some migrants to the United States, joining the military seems like a reliable fast track to American citizenship. The Chinese immigrants who joined the “U.S. Army/Military Special Forces Reserve unit” certainly thought so. They were issued with identification papers and uniforms and took part in public parades. There was just one problem: The entire unit was an elaborate hoax.


The Weird World Of Bird Fighting

It may seem odd to think of birds fighting for human amusement, but when you consider that these creatures evolved from the dinosaurs, their aggression doesn’t seem so far-fetched. From falconry to cockfighting, birds have proven some of the most vicious and efficient predators on the planet. And yet, some of the birds are little more intimidating than the robins that bob around on your front lawn.


The Unsolved Mystery Of The AIDS Dentist

In the late 1980s, Dr. David Acer, a dentist working in Florida, passed an HIV infection to six of his patients. There have only been three other instances worldwide since, making Dr. Acer responsible for two-thirds of people ever infected by a healthcare worker. No one has any idea how it happened. Some suggest he did it deliberately, but there is neither evidence nor a plausible method that anyone can think of. It is a medical mystery that will probably remain unsolved.


The Gordon Ramsay Suicides

Superstar chef Gordon Ramsay has built a name producing cooking-based reality shows where he has a forum for expletive-laced tirades. But it may be that Ramsay’s vicious behavior has deeper consequences than merely entertaining a home audience. At least three people who have suffered his derision on TV have gone on to commit suicide.