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How bizarre
by Thanos Kalamidas
2011-12-28 09:53:40
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Elephant's sixth 'toe' discovered

bizarrer001A mysterious bony growth found in elephants' feet is actually a sixth "toe", scientists report. For more than 300 years, the structure has puzzled researchers, but this study suggests that it helps to support elephants' colossal weight. Fossils reveal that this "pre-digit" evolved about 40 million years ago, at a point when early elephants became larger and more land-based. The research is published in the journal Science. Lead author Professor John Hutchinson, from the UK's structure and motion laboratory at the Royal Veterinary College, said: "It's a cool mystery that goes back to 1706, when the first elephant was dissected by a Scottish surgeon."

Anyone who has studied elephants' feet has wondered about it. They've thought: 'Huh, that's weird'” Professor John Hutchinson Royal Veterinary College. Many people, he said, thought that the structure was a huge lump of cartilage, and over the years its purpose or lack of purpose has been debated. "Anyone who has studied elephants' feet has wondered about it. They've thought: 'Huh, that's weird,' and then moved on," he added. But Prof Hutchinson and colleagues used a combination of CT scans, histology, dissection and electron microscopy to solve the puzzle.

The researchers said the structure was made of bone, although bone with a highly irregular and unusual arrangement.  But closer examination also revealed that it showed a strong similarity with an unusual bone that is found in the front feet of pandas. This bone - which is not quite an extra digit, but does the job of one - helps the panda to grip bamboo, and is called the panda's "thumb" or "sixth finger". Moles too have a bone masquerading as an extra digit, which helps them to dig. And now, the team says that elephants can be added to the list of species for which five fingers or toes are not quite enough.


Police officer under investigation

A local police officer has been accused of peeping at a 17-year-old girl. Town officials said the officer no longer works for the town. “The officer was terminated without pay pending investigation,” said Town Manager Steve Foster. Town resident Shannon Pretty said to the local channel that early on Wednesday morning, Dec. 14, her fiancé discovered a man peeping through the sliding glass door to her daughter’s second floor bedroom. When the fiancé yelled to the man to come down from the balcony, he discovered that the man was in a police uniform.

The officer was identified as Casey Simpson, and allegedly told the family that he had been called to the area to look for a suspicious person and went up to the balcony to see what a person would be looking at from that location. Pretty’s daughter said that she had been in a towel, had changed into her bra and panties and was putting on make-up and blow-drying her hair when the incident occurred. It was reported Police Chief Casey Fillinger and another officer came out to the house after the incident to apologize and said that Simpson had been fired and would not be working in law enforcement again, said Pretty.

Officials from the police department said they could not comment on the incident because it is under investigation. Foster said the State Bureau of Investigation is involved in the investigation. According to reports, the Prettys are pressing charges for trespassing and secret peeping.


Police arrest intoxicated man at AA meeting

Police say an "extremely intoxicated" man who carried a can of beer into an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting faces charges after he refused to leave the building. The police say that the man came into a halfway house at 12:15 a.m. Monday. Cincinnati police say Darrin Porter was asked to leave, then was carried out of the building by staffers. After he returned, authorities say they charged the 45-year-old man with disorderly conduct while intoxicated and obstructing official business. No phone number was listed for Porter, and no attorney was listed in his court record.


Kim Jong-Il's eldest son 'under Chinese protection'

The eldest son of North Korea's late leader Kim Jong-Il has arrived in Beijing as Pyongyang prepares a state funeral for his father, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported on Monday. Citing what it called a source familiar with Kim Jong-Nam's activities, it said he arrived in Beijing from Macau a few days ago and "has been placed under Chinese protection".  Seoul's National Intelligence Service said it had no information on the report and there was no other confirmation.

It was not clear whether the son would attend Wednesday's funeral in Pyongyang, Yonhap said. Kim Jong-Nam, 40, has lived abroad -- mainly in the Chinese territory of Macau -- for years after apparently falling out of favour with his father for trying to enter Japan on a false passport in 2001. Kim Jong-Il eventually backed his youngest son from another marriage as the next ruler. The North proclaimed Kim Jong-Un the "great successor" after his father died of a heart attack on December 17. Kim Jong-Nam's whereabouts have been the subject of intense speculation since his father's death.

"He's moving here and there. It has been hard to track him down," said Ricardo Pinto, publisher of Macau Closer magazine. "It appears that he lives at his house sometimes, and sometimes he stays at different hotels." In a January interview with the Tokyo Shimbun, Jong-Nam was quoted as voicing opposition to the planned dynastic succession. "Even Chairman Mao Zedong of China did not enforce hereditary succession," he was quoted as saying. "(Hereditary succession) does not fit with socialism, and my father was against it as well."


bizarrer002Mum changes her name to Pink Sparkly And All Things Nice

More than 100,000 Brits changed their name this year - including a Nottingham mum now called Pink Sparkly And All Things Nice.

The beauty therapist, who used to be called Charlotte Price, said she is obsessed with the colour pink. She mostly wears pink, lives in a house decorated in pink and works in a pink salon.

The mother of three boys goes by the shortened version Pink Nice but admits many people still her by her old name. "My mum thinks I'm a bit mad really and so do my children. They stick to 'Mum'."

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