Gasmasks.net provides more information than you probably ever wanted to know about the development of dog gas masks. For instance, one problem the developers of the dog gas masks had, which wasn't encountered by their counterparts working on the human versions, was how to build in a "slobber drain."
Old science books and articles are a great source of weird images. For instance, I found the two pictures below in Of Mice, Men and Molecules by John Heller (published in 1960). The images are titled "Catatonic rats" and have this explanatory caption:
These rats will maintain these weird positions for 15 to 30 minutes without moving. This catatonic effect has been induced by a minute amount of a chemical. The effect wears off completely in about an hour.
Unfortunately, Heller doesn't reveal what the chemical is that caused the rats to freeze in these positions. My guess is that it's LSD.
Here at WU Central, the proprietors believe in training up the next generation to be observant and appreciative of all things weird. Hence the photo you see here.
This image was taken by my tweener niece, Becky Fuller, at the farm my brother Frank and his wife Beverly own in Medford, Oregon. It depicts a curious beast Becky calls "the curly horse."
Becky is enrolled in 4-H, and they've plainly been conducting secret experiments to hybridize sheep and horses. How else to explain the odd woolly fur of this anomalous quadruped, its mullet-like mane, or the unnaturally symmetrical appearance of its brown "stockings"?
Maryland-resident Mercedes Clemens has been forced to shutter her horse massage business. Although she's certified to massage humans, she's not certified to massage animals. According to the Associated Press:
She shut down her equine massage practice in a Washington suburb after state officials told her state law only allows veterinarians to perform such services. Now she's suing two state agencies, saying regulators are unfairly barring registered massage therapists who want to practice on animals. Animal massage regulations vary from state to state, with some allowing only veterinarians to practice. Clemens' case is being closely watched by those in the animal massage industry, who say business has grown steadily along with interest in other alternative treatments and pampering for pets.
In other news, THERE ARE ANIMAL MASSAGE REGULATIONS!
(Thanks, Big Gary!)
I imagine that many dog owners have noticed that dogs can "catch" yawns from humans, and vice versa (I think). So was an experiment to verify this really necessary? The animal behaviorists at the University of London evidently thought so. In their defense, I'd argue that just because something seems obvious, it still might yield interesting results when examined under controlled conditions in a laboratory setting. From the Aug 2008 issue of Biology Letters:
This study is the first to demonstrate that human yawns are possibly contagious to domestic dogs (Canis familiaris). Twenty-nine dogs observed a human yawning or making control mouth movements. Twenty-one dogs yawned when they observed a human yawning, but control mouth movements did not elicit yawning from any of them. The presence of contagious yawning in dogs suggests that this phenomenon is not specific to primate species and may indicate that dogs possess the capacity for a rudimentary form of empathy. Since yawning is known to modulate the levels of arousal, yawn contagion may help coordinate dog–human interaction and communication. Understanding the mechanism as well as the function of contagious yawning between humans and dogs requires more detailed investigation.
The BBC has a video of a yawning dog -- making me sleepy! (Thanks, Sandy!)
This sounds like something out of a horror novel. A mysterious red and black insect has been found in parts of London, baffling experts who have no idea what it is. Ominously, it is spreading rapidly. From BBC News:
The tiny red and black bug first appeared in the Natural History Museum's Wildlife Garden in March 2007. Since then it has become the most common insect in the garden and has also been spotted in Regent's Park and Gray's Inn. The bug appears to be harmless, but there is potential for it to spread throughout the UK, said experts...
Despite containing more than 28 million insect specimens, the museum failed to find an exact match for the new bug. Experts said it closely resembles the rare species Arocatus roeselii that is usually found in central Europe. But the roeselii bugs are brighter red than this new bug and they are usually associated with alder trees. The National Museum in Prague discovered an exact match to the mystery insect but experts there have also failed to determine exactly what it is. "It seems strange that so many of these bugs should suddenly appear," said Mr Barclay.
Sure, it appears to be harmless for now, but what are the odds it'll remain that way? Haven't they read The Day of the Triffids?
Reported in November 1887 in the Pall Mall Gazette:
Dr. Jammers, in a memoir sent to the Academie des Sciences, states that monkeys, unlike other animals, unless it is the human animal, readily acquire the habit of taking morphia. When monkeys live with opium smokers, as they do in eastern countries, where the habit is more prevalent than elsewhere, and become accustomed to the medicated atmosphere, they acquire a taste for the pipe. One particular monkey, it is said, would wait for his master to lay down his pipe and would then take it up and smoke what remained. If not allowed to do so for several days it would fall into a state of depression and inactivity which would disappear as soon as it was allowed to "hit the pipe."
And more recently, in a July 2008 BBC News article about the world's largest legal opium factory located in Ghazipur in northern India:
Ghosh [author of a recent historical novel about opium] wrote about "a miasma of lethargy" that seemed to be always hanging over the factory's surroundings - one example was the opium addled monkeys who would lap the open sewers carrying the factory's waste.
Monkeys still have the run of the factory, eating opium waste and dozing all day. "They have become addicted to opium. Most of the time we have to drag dozing monkeys away from this place," a worker says.
Books Selected and endorsed for Pure Weirdness by Your WU Team
Who We Are
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.