THE STUFF OF NIGHTMARES
Frank Lyko is a biologist at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg with a narrow field of study: the marbled crayfish. But as Dr. Lyko and his colleagues report in a study published Feb. 5, there’s more to the six-inch crustacean than meets the eye. Until about 25 years ago, this species didn’t exist, The New York Times explains. One single, drastic mutation created a whole new species of crayfish–one that could clone itself. Since then, it has spread across Europe and to other continents and threatened native varieties. The eggs of the crayfish all produce females, which do not need to mate to produce more eggs. Dr. Lyko’s DNA research offers new insights into why most animals have sex, because there are so few examples of sex-free species (they don’t last long). He admits that the marbled crayfish may last only 100,000 years. “That would be a long time for me personally, but in evolution it would just be a blip on the radar,” he said.
A North Little Rock, Arkansas, law firm celebrated Valentine’s Day in an unconventional way: Wilson & Haubert, PLLC hosted a contest to win a free divorce (a $985 value). “Are you ready to call it quits?” the firm’s Facebook post asked. “Do you know someone that is?” Firm co-founder Brandon Haubert told WIS-TV that the firm had received more than 40 entries in the first day it was offered.
About a week after an 11-year-old boy scraped his elbow while playing in a tidal pool on a California beach, pediatricians treating him for the resulting abscess removed a small, hard object and were surprised to discover a live checkered periwinkle marine snail, according to United Press International. Dr. Albert Khait and his colleagues at Loma Linda University wrote in BMJ Case Reports that a snail’s egg had apparently become embedded in the boy’s skin when he scraped it. The mollusk later hatched inside the abscess. Dr. Khait said the boy took the snail home as a pet, but it did not survive living outside its former home.
Michelle Myers of Buckeye, Arizona, suffers from blinding headaches, but it’s what happens afterward that until recently had doctors stumped. Myers, who has never been out of the United States, has awakened from her headaches three times in the last seven years with a different foreign accent. The first time it was Irish; the second was Australian, and both lasted only about a week. But Myers’ most recent event, which was two years ago, left her with a British accent that she still has. Doctors have diagnosed her with Foreign Accent Syndrome, a rare condition that usually accompanies a neurological event such as a stroke. Myers told ABC-15 that the loss of her normal accent makes her sad: “I feel like a different person. Everybody only sees or hears Mary Poppins.”
NEW WORLD ORDER
A new golf course at The Retreat & Links at Silvies Valley Ranch in Seneca, Oregon, will take “the golf experience… to a new level” in 2018, owner Scott Campbell announced in early February to the website Golf WRX. This summer, golfers will be offered goat caddies to carry clubs, drinks, balls and tees on the resort’s short seven-hole challenge course, McVeigh’s Gauntlet. “We’ve been developing an unprecedented caddie training program with our head caddie, Bruce LeGoat,” Campbell went on, adding that the professionally trained American Range goats will “work for peanuts.”
The Federal Agency for Environmental Protection in Mexico is investigating a Feb. 7 attempt to express-mail a Bengal tiger cub from Jalisco to Queretaro, reported WDBJ-TV. The cub had been sedated and packed into a plastic container; a dog sniffing for contraband detected it. Wildlife agents said the cub was underweight and dehydrated but otherwise healthy, and its papers were in order. However, because mailing it was considered mistreatment, it was relocated to a wildlife protection center.
Terran Woolley of Hutchinson, Kansas, got a bright idea after he read the bylaws and requirements to become the state’s governor. “I was reading some stories about the young teenagers that were entering the governor’s race… and I thought, ‘I wonder if… Angus could run,’” Woolley explained to KWCH-TV. Angus is Woolley’s wirehaired vizsla, a four-legged, furry friend of the people who Woolley said would promise soft couches and a “completely anti-squirrel agenda” if elected. Alas, on Feb. 12, the Kansas secretary of state’s office dashed Angus’ dreams when it declared that despite the fact that there are no specific restrictions against a dog being governor, Angus would be unable to carry out the responsibilities of the office.
LEAST COMPETENT CRIMINALS
Kenneth R. Shutes Jr. of New Richmond, Wisconsin, bolted from a midnight traffic stop on Feb. 6, but he didn’t make it far before having to call 911 for help. The Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported that Shutes got stuck in a frozen swamp in rural Star Prairie and, after about an hour, became unable to walk as temperatures dipped to minus eight degrees. Fire and rescue workers removed Shutes from the wooded area, and he was later charged in St. Croix County Circuit Court for failing to obey an officer, marijuana possession and obstructing an officer. Shutes told a deputy he “needed an incident like this because he was making poor decisions in his life.”