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.
Chinese villager Feng Changlin is now the proud owner of a very strange-looking monkey-like piglet. In medieval times, the birth of such a pig might have been considered an omen of impending disaster. Now it just makes headlines on Ananova.
Back in July 2005 there were reports that the Chinese were planning to send pig sperm into space aboard the Shenzhou VI spacecraft. The plan was to expose the sperm to cosmic rays and microgravity and then fertilize pigs back on earth with it -- just to see what would happen. But to my knowledge, there were never any follow-up reports about the experiment. Could there be a link between the space-pig experiment and Feng Changlin's monkey-pig? Inquiring minds want to know.
On a more down-to-earth note, if you're interested in odd-looking creatures (and who isn't?) check out Sarah Hartwell's incredible site, messybeast.com.
Every year the residents of Huacho, Peru hold their Guinea Pig festival. First they dress the guinea pigs in cute costumes. There's a fashion show to decide the best-dressed guinea pig. Then they cook 'em up. The Telegraph notes that "Guinea pigs can be served fried, roasted or in a casserole... The meat tastes like rabbit or the dark meat of chicken, in case you were wondering." (via J-Walk)
Brazilian artist Alexandre Jorge has created a series of creepy imaginary animals. They're all made out of papier mache. I figure it's only a matter of time before the pictures start popping up in people's email with the claim that they're real animals found in the Brazilian rainforest (or something like that):
Once upon a time, mechanical elephants roamed up and down the boardwalks of beaches. Check out the clip below from a 1950s newsreel. The elephant, built by Frank Stuart was "Gasoline Powered with a 4 cylinder English Side Valve Ford engine. Top speed 27 MPH!"
I found the clip on the blog of Eastcliff Richard who reports that, "Astonishingly Britain used to lead the world in the production of mechanical elephants. This one was later sold to the late, great, dearly-departed Peter Sellers as part of his eccentric collection of automobilia."
Some more videos of mechanical elephants can be found here and here.
At the fascinating blog of my pal, Rudy Rucker, I recently found the archaically NSFW image hidden beyond the jump. Rudy utilized a picture taken by a friend of his, while I've found my image at a site claiming the sculpture in question is housed at the Secret Museum of Naples.
In either case, I thought this was just the kind of bizarre thing WU readers might care to ponder.
Ivan Pavlov famously conditioned dogs to salivate every time they heard a dinner bell. The U.S. Army hopes to use a similar technique to train fish in Buzzards Bay off the coast of Massachusetts. According to the Cape Cod Times, the experiment:
houses 5,000 juvenile black sea bass in a dome-shaped structure at the bottom of Buzzards Bay, for the purpose of feeding them after playing a 280 Hz tone. The study is being led by Scott Lindell, director of MBL's Scientific Aquaculture Program, to determine whether the caged fish — once accustomed to the tone then released into the wild — will return to the dome for recapture when the tone is played. The hope is to create a less harmful way to fish or better replenish natural fish stock, project officials told the Times in March.
The experiment has raised concerns among a consumer advocacy group, who are suing the Army, but that's not what interests me. What interests me is whether the fish salivate when they hear the tone. Do fish, in fact, have salivary glands? An answer from genuineideas.com:
Although the most well developed glands are found in mammals, many other vertebrates and invertebrates have salivary glands. Fish and other aquatic animals clearly do not lack opportunities to add water to their meals; hence most aquatic animals are devoid of "true" salivary glands. However, some form of lubrication is still necessary to assist swallowing even in water, and this is provided by mucous glands along the tongue and roof of mouth (Mucous secretion is present in all animals.)
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.