Category Archives: STRANGE WEIRD ODD


Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘to blame’ for Giant Hogweed invading UK

RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin is to blame for the spread of the toxic Giant Hogweed plant in the UK, it has been claimed.

A scientist claims Russia is to blame for the UK being unable to deal with giant hogweed

Despite decades of research biologists are yet to find an effective weapon agains the invasive species, whose poisonous sap recently hospitalised a dog walker and a ten-year-old girl.

But they believe a rust fungus found in Georgia, where the weed originally comes from, may hold the answer to stopping the plant which can cause severe burns, blisters and even blindness.

In the early 2000s scientists went to Georgia but their efforts were hampered by conflict with Russia, where Putin had just become president for the first time.

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A quintessentially Australian photo which could only have come from WA’s Kimberley has gone viral, as social media across the world marvelled at a python playing pick-up to a bunch of amorous cane toads.

Helicopter pilot Paul Mock snapped the photo of the olive python — named Monty, of course — onboard was a contingent of cane toads on its back in the wake of an inundation of 68mm rain at his Kununurra WA property on Monday.

Mr Mock doesn’t have social media but decided to send the picture on to his brother Andrew, who quickly uploaded it to Twitter where it caused a storm.

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The Pisonia Tree Lures and Murders Birds for No Apparent Good Reason

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Someone should tell that to the Pisonia tree, a ruthless plant that kills birds just for the heck of it. You may be asking, “Why?” Well, the tree should respond, “Why not?”

Oh Murder Tree, Oh Murder Tree!

If you didn’t think a plant — a tree, no less — could be a jerk, think again. Found in the tropical waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans, the Pisonia tree fits the bill as one of the most unnecessarily cruel plants in the planet. While it’s not uncommon for plants to have built-in defense mechanisms, those things are usually there to keep the plant safe from preditors. But scientists have yet to uncover any benefit the Pisonia tree could possibly receive for luring birds in only just to murder them.

Here’s what happens at the crime scene: the Pisonia tree produces sticky seedpods that trap insects, luring in hungry birds with the promise of an easy lunch. These seedpods are so sticky that they’ll latch onto any bird that flies into them, either trapping it in the tree’s branches or weighing the bird down stosuch a extent that it’s completely unable to fly. As a result, you’ll see a blanket of bird carcasses littering the roots of the Pisonia tree. There are sometimes even mummified bird corpses up in the branches that look like, as Washington Post describes them, “macabre Christmas tree ornaments.”

Ecologist Alan Burger at the University of Victoria first heard of the Pisonia in the 1990s and went to the archipelago of Seychelles in the Indian Ocean to work out why these slaughterous trees seemed to kill just for the hell of it. Until then, no one had looked too hard into the Pisonia tree, but there were two main theories as to why they were bird-tormentors: either the tree’s roots got a nutrient bump from the dead birds, or the seeds attached to the dead birds because they required the corpse as fertilizer in order to grow. After 10 months of research with the Pisonia seeds, Burger published his findings in 2005.

The conclusion? Pisonia trees are just out & out ruthless. “The results from my experiments showed quite convincingly that the Pisonia derived no obvious benefit from fatally entangling birds,” writes Burger. But not only did dead birds not benefit the tree in any way, but the droppings of living birds would also help the trees survive by enriching the soil. It turns out, then, that killing birds isn’t necessarily the goal. Birds flying away from the tree with sticky seeds attached helps keep the tree species alive by spreading the seeds far and wide. It’s just one of those evolutionary whoopsies that the seeds sprout in clusters — heavy, self-sabotaging, bird-murdering clusters.

Curious for more of nature’s killers? Check out “Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities.” The audiobook is free with a trial of Audible.

Henry Sapiecha


In southern Australia, a population of tiger snakes is being blinded/injured – but by what?

This population of tiger snakes looks to be having a rough time of it.

Many have head injuries and one in 10 are totally blind, but this does not seem to get in the way of them finding a good meal.

The snakes live near a colony of silver gulls that breeds throughout the year so their chicks provide the snakes with a constant supply of fresh meat.

But the gulls are valiant defenders of their chicks. Their stabbing beaks are powerful and strong and they always go straight for the snake’s head.

Even with the loss of sight, these hungry snakes are still able to pick off a tasty chick or two thanks to their impressive forked tongues which they use to follow smells.

Watch the moment Sir David Attenborough and BBC filmmakers captured these impressive hunters for the series Life In Cold Blood.

Henry Sapiecha


What killed the dinosaurs? It’s a question as old as – well the dinosaurs themselves, and one that everyone from school children to scientists have been asking for decades. Movies like Jurassic Park and the Land Before Time only heighten that sense of wonder and raise the stakes behind that question. Now according to a new scientific study, it seems that black gold may have been the source of the dinos’ demise.

Japanese researchers at Tohuku University and the Meteorological Research Institute authored a recent study in the research journal Scientific Reports suggesting that a meteor impact 66 million years ago on an oil rich region of Yucatan Peninsula led to the death of the dinosaurs. When the asteroid hit the vast oil deposits of Mexico, it sent thick black smoke into the atmosphere, changing the climate around the world. That soot blocked out the sun leading to a significant cooling of the planet. Equally importantly, it also led to a substantial drought around the world.

The asteroid in question was roughly 6 miles wide and its impacted created the 110 mile wide crater that exists in the Yucatan today – the third largest crater on Earth. The impact was the equivalent of roughly 1 billion atomic bombs of the equivalent power to what struck Hiroshima at the end of World War 2.

The researchers calculate that the amount of soot released would have lowered sunlight exposure by 85 percent and reduced rainfall by 80 percent. That would have had a significant impact on plant growth, which in turn would have limited food options for most dinosaurs. In addition, the soot cooled the Earth by 16 degrees Celsius (about 28.8 degrees Fahrenheit) over the course of just 3 years. Think of the event as the reverse of global warming – and on steroids.

Against this backdrop it is not surprising that dinosaurs all died out. Only smaller mammals that could live underground would have survived. In fact, the fossil record suggests that only 12 percent of the pre-asteroid life was able to survive after the impact. It was not just dinosaurs that died either, contrary to myths about the Ice Age – around 93 percent of mammal species were killed off as well, according to a separate research study by scientists at the University of Bath. The largest animals that would have survived the extinction event were about the size of a house cat.

Still, life bounced back “fairly quickly” researchers say, with about twice as many species existing 300,000 years after the event versus before it. Of course, given that the course of human history only goes back around 25,000 years, three-hundred thousand years is still a long period of time. It reflects the reality that the asteroid strike had a significant enough impact that its effects took tens of thousands of years to dissipate. It was the adaptability of mammals after the strike versus various reptiles that led the mammals to ultimately come to dominate the planet. Dinosaurs were in decline for millions of years before the asteroid strike, but that event aided by the oil rich soil of the Yucatan finished them off.

It’s ironic that oil, so fundamental for modern human life was ultimately the catalyst that wiped out the dinosaurs. Had the asteroid stuck in a less oil rich region, back of the envelope calculations suggest its impact would have only been around one-third as devastating. It’s impossible to say if that would have allowed any of the dinosaurs to live or not, but it is at least a possibility. Perhaps if not for the existence of oil, none of us would have cars, but maybe we would all have a pet brontosaurus.


Henry Sapiecha

19 Giant Animals You Won’t Believe that Actually do Exist

Coming to large animals, few like the elephant, whale, shark, etc. come to our mind immediately. However, some certain animals have also grown exceptionally large and gigantic compared to their species’ average sizes. Check out these awesome huge and facinating animals. Hard to believe they actually exist, especially the last monster


1. Moose the horse

This majestic beast is one of the largest horses out there, standing at an impressive 19 ft.

large-horse image

2. Big Cow Chilli

This gentle giant is a 6-foot 6-inch bovine, weighing well over a ton

Big Cow Chilli image

3. Gibson the great dane dog

Standing at 7 feet and around 170 pounds, Gibson, the Great Dane, is the tallest dog in the world.

Gibson-Standing at 7 feet and around 170 pounds, Gibson, the Great Dane, is the tallest dog in the world.image

4. Coconut Crab

The oversized crab is the largest living arthropod in the world, growing to a length of 3 ft and weighing at 9 lbs.

coconut-crab-3ft-long image

5. The Big PigReportedly, this Big Pig weighed in at 1984 lbs, grew to 8.2 ft long and had a waistline of 7.3 ft. Unfortunately, this bowling ball is no longer with us.

the-big-monster-pig image

6. Stingray

This devastatingly large creature is 7 ft wide and long with a 10 ft tail.

stingray-huge-size image

7. Big Jake the horse

Big Jake is an immensely tall horse, standing at an impressive 6’9” and weighing in at 2,600 pounds.

big-jake-the-horse image

8. African Giant Snail

The African Giant Snail is the largest species of snail, growing to lengths of about 20 cm.

african-giant-snail image

9. Giant George The Great Dane

George the Giant, weighing 245 lbs, is a massive Great Dane that can arguably be classified as a pony.

giant-george-the-great-dane image

10. Giant Catfish

This incredibly large catfish in the Mekong River, is reportedly the largest freshwater fish to be recorded, measuring at 6.5 feet long and weighing in at about 646 lbs.

giant-catfish-from-mekong-river image

11. Blossom the very tall cow

Blossom is the world’s tallest cow, standing at a height of 6’4” and weighing in at 2,000 pounds.

Blossom the very tall cow image

12. Giant Wild Hog

This giant hog was measured at 9 feet and weighed a whopping 1,051 pounds in weight.

giant-wild-hog image

13. Darius the big rabbit

This cuddly bunny stands at an impressive 52 inches, making him the owner of the Guinness World Record for the tallest bunny.

darius-the-big-rabbit image

14. Hercules Moth

With a measured wingspan of about 10 inches, this moth is one of the largest moths in the world.

hercules-moth image

15. Giant Bird Eating Spider

These bird-eating spiders in Laos weighing up to 41 lbs have long been a horrific nightmare for those who have crossed paths with these unthinkable crawlers.

largest-spider-eats-birds image

16. Field Marshall the worlds largest bull

This gentle giant standing at 6’5” and weighing more than 3500 lbs is the largest bull in the world.

Field Marshall the worlds largest bull image

17. Hercules The Cat

This unique cat, commonly mistaken for a tiger or lion, is known as the hybrid Liger. Weighing in around 900 pounds, it’s the world’s largest cat.

hercules-the-giant-cat image

18. Hercules The English Mastif-Dog

This huge English Mastiff is the proud owner of the Guinness Record for the World’s Biggest Dog, weighing in at 282 pounds with a 38-inch circumference neck.

hercules-the-english-mastif-dog image

19. Oar Fish Extraordinaire

This terribly giant oarfish was so long that it had to be held by 10 people at one time.

Oar-Fish-Extraordinaire image



Henry Sapiecha

A Lioness Captures A Baby Baboon And Does The Last Thing You’d Expect

Nature can be a brutal place, but sometimes the unexpected behaviour of animals can shock us all.

This is the moment a lioness grabbed a female baboon by the scruff of the neck while her baby clung onto her limp body.

lioness with dead baboon in mouth image

With the mother baboon now dead, the baby attempted to make a break for the tree, but was too weak to climb.

The lioness watched in disbelief, seemingly eyeing up her next snack.

Lion-Baboon_baby on tree image

Things looked bad for the tiny monkey, who looked as if he was about to be gobbled up by the bloodthirsty lioness.

Lion-and-baboon_baby play at tree image

But remarkably, just as it looked as if the lioness was about to take a fatal swipe, something incredible happened.

Lion-and-Baboon-baby lay together image

The lioness started playing with the baboon and, after a while, picked up the tiny primate softly in her mouth before settling down with the baby between her paws.

Lioness-Baboon_baby suckling image

Then, in a strange behavioural twist, the baboon started to try and suckle the lioness.

Lioness-Baboon_baby together image

The baby was safe, for now, as the lioness was as gentle and tender as the baboon was unafraid.

But then, just as it seemed the ordeal was over, something even more remarkable happened.

lioness chases away male lions image

Two male lions arrived on the scene to examine the baboon, but were met with aggression by the lioness, who chased them away in an unexpected show of compassion.

Baboon-Baby_rescue in treetops image

However, during the fracas, a male baboon – who had been watching from a nearby tree – saw an opportunity to save the baby from the clutches of the lions.

He swooped down undetected and whisked the baby to safety in the tree tops.

baboon cuddles his baby monkey in treetops image

Back safely in the trees, the father cuddled the baby after his heroic rescue mission.


Henry Sapiecha

This leaf-strumming green reptile thinks it’s Jimi ‘Lizard’ Hendrix

** NO USE WITHOUT BYLINE ADITYA PERMANA / MERCURY PRESS **    PIC BY ADITYA PERMANA / MERCURY PRESS - (PICTURED: A LIZARD HOLDING A LEAD LIKE A GUITAR) This is the real-life THIN LIZARD as the reptile strums a guitar fashioned from a leaf. The forest dragon lizard was spotted in the unusual pose by professional photographer Aditya Permana in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The 33-year-old caught the comical snap earlier this week and watched the critter for more than an hour before it began practicing its chords...SEE MERCURY COPY

** NO USE WITHOUT BYLINE ADITYA PERMANA / MERCURY PRESS ** PIC BY ADITYA PERMANA / MERCURY PRESS – (PICTURED: A LIZARD HOLDING A LEAD LIKE A GUITAR) This is the real-life THIN LIZARD as the reptile strums a guitar fashioned from a leaf. The forest dragon lizard was spotted in the unusual pose by professional photographer Aditya Permana in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The 33-year-old caught the comical snap earlier this week and watched the critter for more than an hour before it began practicing its chords…SEE MERCURY COPY

Is this lizard trying to emulate the axe-wielding heroics of Jimi Hendrix?

Or does he prefer Jimmy Page?

Either way, this forest dragon lizard looked like a true guitar hero as he strummed a leaf in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

The amazing snap was captured by photographer Aditya Permana, who watched the creature for more than an hour as it reclined on a log and presumably dreamt of headlining Woodstock.

Describing the moment he took the incredible photo, Aditya said: ‘I did not directly photograph the lizard at first, until the lizards feel calm and comfortable around me.

‘I noticed it looked like it was playing a guitar – and it didn’t move at all.’

Henry Sapiecha


Mr. Richard Jones, who sent in the photos, claims his family was exploring along the Oklawaha River observing wildlife when his son caused a commotion that spooked the lone raccoon. That's when the startled raccoon decidely boarded the gator's back.  Mr. Jones apparently had his camera in tow and and was lucky enough to capture this once-in-a-lifetime image. Then he was nice enough to send it our way.

Mr. Richard Jones, who sent in the photos, claims his family was exploring along the Oklawaha River observing wildlife when his son caused a commotion that spooked the lone raccoon. That’s when the startled raccoon decidely boarded the gator’s back. Mr. Jones apparently had his camera in tow and and was lucky enough to capture this once-in-a-lifetime image. Then he was nice enough to send it our way.

First there was Weaselpecker. Now meet Gatorcoon.  

When this amateur photographer went walking through Ocala National Forest in Florida, he came across something quite odd.

Richard Jones, who was out in the forest with his family, spotted a raccoon riding on the back of an alligator.

Mr Jones said he believed the raccoon had leapt aboard the alligator after being startled by his son taking a picture of the reptile.

He said he ‘snapped a lucky picture right when the gator slipped into the water and before the raccoon jumped off and scurried away.

‘Without the context you’d think the raccoon was hitching a ride across the river.’

Oh, and and in case you missed it, here’s that weasel riding a woodpecker.

Weasel & Woodpecker. Martin Le-May @

Weasel & Woodpecker. Martin Le-May @


KingCobra_restaurant image 0001-600x400 www.pythonjungle (2)

Jakarta’s north is where the city’s colonial past rubs shoulders with its less-than-reputable present. Away from the ultra-modern mega-malls, leftover Dutch architecture pokes a decaying head from between the one-stop debauchery shops selling skin and drugs under the guise of hotels, nightclubs, and spas. If there was ever an appropriate place to eat a deadly snake, this would be it.

Along the streets in a too-casual-for-comfort manner, small cages of blue plywood and chicken wire are all that separate pedestrians from the hissing black cobras. Diners sit next to the cages as if the animals were tanked lobsters in a Maine seafood shack.

While the streets are littered with small satay stands, it’s the King Cobra Mangga Besar restaurant that’s cultivated a reputation as the best place to eat one of the reptiles. The family-run shop opened in 1965 and has since hatched four additional king cobra restaurants in the city, with a fifth on the way.

In more than a year of working as a journalist in Jakarta, a trip to the restaurant has always felt like a terrifying inevitability. My phobia of snakes is primal and buried in the most basic part of my brain. They chase me in my nightmares and, for reasons I can’t explain, this makes me need to be close to them.

I step into the tight 10-table establishment. The grill is working overtime. White smoke has completely filled the dining room, and it’s difficult for my eyes to scan the tiled floor for escaped hors d’oeuvres.

Maria, the long-time owner, obviously has a routine when it comes to curious white people walking into her restaurant holding cameras. She barks some words in Bahasa to her daughter Olvin, who shows me towards the back room where the snakes are kept.

KingCobra_restaurant image 0001-600x400

A glass partition separates the caged animals from the main eatery. Olvin’s already stepped through the swinging door, and I can feel every cell in my body pulling me towards the exit. I take a deep breath and exhale in time with my step into the snake room.

Olvin, along with the only non-family employee, begins to pull out various serpents. Some are emerald with narrow, pointed heads; others are the splotched shades of army fatigues. The two smile madly as they spread reptile after reptile the distance of their arms and hold deadly heads closer to my lens than I’d prefer.

My hands are shaking like mad. Adrenaline is thumping in my ears, and I’m doing my best to pretend like this is just another day. Inches to my right I can hear the black cobras spitting at me on the other side of a single pane of glass. It slowly dawns on me that these two are risking their lives, and I have no intention of eating what they have on display. I make a mental note to buy one of the other snake-derived products they sell in the front of the house as a thank you for their risk.

The only snakes that don’t come out of their cages are the kings. According to Maria, they’re just too dangerous to take out for fun. She says the only people who regularly fork over the roughly $250 for them are Chinese businessmen who come to Jakarta on short stays for work.

KingCobra_restaurant image 0001-600x400 www.pythonjungle (1)

Looking at the pent animals, I’m okay with letting them sit. One particularly worrisome fellow is deathly still, head tilted back with his eyes fixed on the one place a hand must go in if he’s to go out.

Maria says they’ve been doing business with the same snake catchers for years. Only when her daughter was first learning to handle the poisonous serpents did she fear for her family’s well-being. Bites are rare, but when they happen the skin is cut at the point of contact and as much blood as possible is drained from the area.

One small factoid about the restaurant pushes me to my emotional breaking point. Since 1965 only one king cobra’s ever escaped. It made it to the center of the eatery before staff grabbed hold and returned it to a cage. Taking a look at the wire enclosures, it’s not a sense of security that comes over me but the dreaded realization that they’re long overdue for another such incident. I immediately have a vision of myself covered in escaped serpents who know my position on the top of the food chain is at best conditional.

My reaction is Olympic-gold swift. I grab a snake-skin wallet as a thank you for amusing my phobias and toss a wad of cash I assume to be sufficient towards the register. Instinct trumps dignity as my eyes see the door and I bolt like a dine-and-dasher for the parking lot



Henry Sapiecha