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This Snake Plays Dead When Threatened

The North American hognose snake, aka “puff adder, aka “zombie snake”, has a taste for the dramatic. When threatened, this natural-born artist likes to play dead in the most overacted way imaginable.

The hognose snake got its first nickname, “puff adder”, for its main defense mechanism. To scare away threats, it sucks in air and spreads the skin around its head and neck like a cobra, hissing loudly and pretending to prepare for a vicious snake. But if that doesn’t work, it has another intriguing trick up its sleeve. And that’s where the second nickname, “zombie snake”, comes in. According to the Amphibians and Reptiles of North Carolina, if a predator isn’t impressed by the snake’s threatening display, it “will then feign death by opening its mouth, rolling over on its back, and writhing around. If turned over onto its belly, it will immediately roll again onto its back”.

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The Book That Grew – A Unique Book Grown By Manipulating Grass Roots

In an effort to promote sustainable agriculture, Irish as agency Rothco teamed up with German artist Diana Scherer to create The Book That Grew – a 22-page tome created by manipulating the roots of living plants to grow in the shape of letters and diagrams.

We wrote about plant root manipulation for artistic purposes in the past, but this is probably the most ambitious and impressive such project we’ve ever come across. All elements of The Book That Grew, including the ink and binding, were made from grass to show farmer just how powerful a resource it can be, when managed properly. That’s actually the main point of the book, which contains 10 simple yet valuable lessons designed to help maximize sustainability of one of the most valuable agricultural resources, grass. And what better to convey the message to farmers than in the form of an all-organic book grown from that very grass.

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Woman Underwent Over 300 Cosmetic Procedures Because Mother Told Her She Wasn’t Pretty Enough as a Child

A 39-year-old former hostess and model from Japan recently went on national television and revealed that she spent over 30 million yen ($280,000) on cosmetic procedures in the last 21 years, after becoming traumatized that her mother had never been satisfied with her looks growing up.

Tsubaki Tomomi had her first plastic surgery when she turned 18, right after graduating high-school. By the time she turned twenty, she had already fixed her teeth, had eye shaping surgery and gotten breast implants. She has been on a never-ending quest to enhance her physical appearance ever since, and doesn’t plan on stopping until the day she dies. Although Tsubaki claims to have embraced plastic surgery as a way of keeping herself looking youthful, she says that her obsession with it started in her childhood. Her mother used to always complain about her looks, calling her “unsightly” in front of other people, so she just got it into her head that she had to make herself look more pleasing. As soon as she got old enough to undergo plastic surgery, she did so. She claims to have spent over 30 million yen ($280,000) on cosmetic procedures since then.

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Living Jewelry – The Shiny Cocoons of This Exotic Butterfly Look Like Gold Jewels

Butterfly pupae are easy targets for predators in search of an easy protein-rich meal, and one would think that the flashier the cocoon, the higher the chances of being spotted and eaten , but the Mechanitis polymnia, aka the orange-spotted tiger clearwing and its shiny, gold-like pods are proof that the opposite is true.

The orange-spotted tiger clearwing butterfly lives in the jungles of Central and South America, from Mexico all the way to the Amazon rain-forests. It’s a colorful little thing, with a wingspan of 65 to 75 millimeters, but it’s not exactly the most eye-catching of butterflies. Its pupae however are pure gold, literally. Well, not really literally, but they look just like elaborate gold jewelry hanging on the back of plant leaves, and even on the walls of houses in rural areas. But unlike actual gold jewels, these shiny, metallic-looking chrysalises are not meant to draw attention, but distract predators and even discourage them from getting to close. It’s a natural defense mechanism, and a very effective one at that.

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World’s Longest Water Slide Will Take You on a Four-Minute Ride Through a Malaysian Jungle

Located on a jungle-covered hillside in Malaysia, the new 1,140-meter-long water slide being built at Penang’s Escape Theme Park will most likely be declared the longest in the world when it opens, in August 2019.

The current Guinness record for the world’s longest water slide has been held by the 605-meter slide at Action Park, in New Jersey, since 2015, but in just two months time it will be claimed by a new water slide currently under construction in the Malaysian state of Penang. Already 65 percent complete, the slide already measures 705-meters-long, and when finished will take thrill-seekers on an epic 4-minute ride from the top of a hill, through a lush jungle before, dropping them into a large swimming pool at the bottom. Escape Theme Park announced that the remaining 435-meter section of the water slide will be completed in time for its August inauguration.

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Aggressive Seagulls Keep Couple Hostage in Their Own Home for Six Days

An elderly couple in the UK claimed that they were held hostage by a pair of seagulls nesting on the roof of their Lancashire home. Every time they tried to leave the birds would become aggressive and attack them.

Roy and Brenda Pickard’s story sounds like a real life version of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Birds”. The elderly couple were held hostage in their own home by a pair of adult Herring Gulls after the birds’  chicks slipped on the roof of the house and landed onto the canopy directly above the front door. Every time Roy tried opening the front door, he was confronted by two angry squawking adult seagulls. One time, when he decided to take his chances and go outside, the 71-year-old was hit so hard on the back of the head that he had to be taken to the hospital for help. Local authorities have installed a gazebo outside the couple’s home, which should offer some protection, but that’s the best they can do for now.

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Man’s Occasional Headache Turns Out to Be Caused by Wood Splinters Stuck in His Brain for Five Years

A Chinese man who recently turned up at a hospital in Yunnan Province with a swollen eyelid and excruciating headache was shocked to learn that his condition was caused by several pieces of wood stuck in his brain.

The 41-year-old man, surnamed Zhou, told doctors that he first realized something was wrong about two months ago, when an old scan on his right eyelid became swollen and his occasional headaches started getting worse. Unable to deal with the pain, he finally went to the First People’s Hospital in Yunnan Province for treatment, where a computerized tomography scan revealed that he had several pieces of wood with a combined length of 11 cm stuck in his brain. Asked how on Earth he had ended up with so much would deep inside his skull, Zhou recalled an accident that had occurred half a decade prior.

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Mysterious Condition Causes Dog to Tense Up and Fall Over Whenever He Gets Too Excited

Peter, a one-year-old cocker spaniel from Sheffield, in the UK, has earned the nickname “Fainting Pete” due to his bizarre habit of suddenly stiffening and falling over whenever he gets to excited or nervous.

Peter’s owners, Emma Clayton and Oliver Broomhead, adopted him from a family who could no longer look take care of him. They were told that the adorable pooch had been “fainting” ever since he learned how to walk, and despite seeing several veterinarians about his bizarre behavior, no one has been able to figure out what’s causing it. The English couple said that it occurs every time Peter sees ducks, enjoys his walks a bit too much or gets scared. Sometime he’ll just freeze and fall over for no apparent reason which lead doctors to believe that he is suffering from a rare neurological condition, although no one can say for sure.

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‘Argentinian Hachiko’ Spends a Year Waiting Outside Police Station Where Its Owner Was Arrested

Sheila, a Golden retriever mix from Buenos Aires, Argentina, has melted the hearts of millions around South America after it was reported that she has been patiently waiting outside a local police station ever since her owner was arrested there, over a year ago.

The loyal dog reportedly showed up outside the police station in 25 de Mayo, a small town in Argentina’s Buenos Aires province, soon after her owner was brought in on charges of assault, last year. Staff there believe that she must have followed the patrol her owner was in, but one thing is for sure, once she arrived, she never left. It didn’t take long for the officers to notice her presence, and some of them started bringing her food to gain her trust. Sheila was cautious at first, but today she depends on the policemen for sustenance, sleeps inside the station at night, and sometimes accompanies her carers on patrols. But she always comes back to the station to wait for her master.

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Scammers Use Silicone Mask to Impersonate French Minister, Swindle $90 Million

In what has been described as one of the most daring rackets in history, one or more individuals used a silicone mask to impersonate France’s minister of defense, Jean-Yves Le Drian, and scam an estimated €80 million ($90 million) from wealthy victims.

Jean-Yves Le Drian served as France’s defense minister from 2012 to 2017, and is currently the country’s Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs. He is an important political figure in his homeland, but also a relatively obscure one, which is why investigators believe he was chosen as the target of one of the boldest identity thefts in recorded history. One or more scammers used a custom silicone mask and a cleverly decorated office to fool various members of government and wealthy businessman into thinking that they were being contacted by Mr. Le Drian who requested financial help to pay the ransoms of journalists captured by Islamists in the Middle East. Some of the victims saw through the ruse, but many complied and donated millions.

The scam was simple yet pretty well thought out. Scammers would pose as a member of Le Drian’s inner circle and contact both french and foreign businessmen to arrange a conversation with the esteemed “minister”. In the beginning, the conversations were carried out over a phone, with the scammer impersonating the French minister reproducing Le Drian’s voice almost to perfection.  But, then, in order to make the  whole thing even more believable, they switched to video calls via Skype.

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Man Sues Brewery Because Pink Beer Promotion Made Him Feel Forced to Identify as a Woman

A Welsh man took UK brewery BrewDog to court over a gender equality promotion that made him feel forced to identify as a woman in order to buy his favorite beer at a discounted price.

In March of 2018, Scotland-based brewery BrewDog swapped the blue label of its popular Punk IPA to a pink one and temporarily rebranded it as Pink IPA. The company described the move as an “overt parody on the failed, tone-deaf campaigns that some brands have attempted in order to attract women.” To get their point across even clearer, BrewDog decided to offer Pink IPA at a 20 percent discount to customers who identified as female for the few weeks that the beer was available. Little did they know that their sarcastic attempt at drawing attention to the gender pay gap would land them in legal trouble.

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Woman Had Surgical Clamp Lodged in Her Abdomen for 23 Years

A 62-year-old Russian woman recently learned that the acute pain she had lived with for over two decades was being caused by a surgical clamp forgotten inside her body after a cesarean.

Ezeta Gobeeva, a pensioner from Russia’s North Ossetia region, had been complaining of an acute abdominal pain ever since she underwent a C-section operation in 1996, but doctors always blamed it on liver problems and did nothing but prescribe painkillers. The woman claims that she was only recently granted an X-Ray, after repeatedly complaining that the medication only helped numb the pain. The investigation revealed that the pain was caused by a surgical clamp lodged in her abdomen, which Gobeeva assumed must have been forgotten in her body by doctors who performed a cesarean operation 23 years ago.

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Fugitive Turns Himself In After His Wanted Poster Gets 29,000 Facebook Likes

Last month, a Connecticut fugitive struck a deal with the Torrington Police Department, promising that he would turn himself in if his wanted poster got more than 15,000 likes on Facebook. It took a bit longer than expected, but the man has made good on his pledge.

29-year-old Jose Simms was wanted for seven counts of failure to appear in court, but last month, when the Torrington Police Department shared his wanted poster on their Facebook page, he actually commented on it, writing that he would turn himself in peacefully if the post got 20,000 likes. In unusual fashion, the police made a counteroffer, asking Simms to lower his threshold to 10,000 likes. They eventually split the difference, agreeing on 15,000 likes. People started sharing the post, and after being picked up by the media, it went viral.

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Rather Than Cut It Down, Family Builds House Around 150-Year-Old Tree

When the Kesharwani family in Jabalpur, India, decided to expand their home back in 1994, they pondered what to do about the giant fig tree growing in their garden. Rather than cut it down, they decided to build a four-storey house around it.

Today, the Kesharwanis’ residence is one of the most stunning sights in Jabalpur – a concrete villa with a giant tree trunk growing through its multiple stories and thick branches coming out through the windows, walls and roof. Yogesh Kesharwani, whose parents built the house 25 years ago, said that the fig tree is about 150 years old but still blossoms into leaves and fruits every year. Even though they have to navigate around its thick trunk when moving through the house, the Kesharwanis have gotten used to it and even grown to consider it a member of the family.

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Norwegian Island Wants to Become the World’s First Time-Free Zone

The people of Sommarøy, an island in northern Norway where the sun doesn’t set for a full 69 days during the summer, want to make time keeping obsolete making this the world’s first time-free zone.

After enduring the long polar night, when the sun doesn’t rise from November to January, the residents of Sommarøy try to make the most of summer, when the sun stays up in the sky from May 18 to July 26. During this time, conventional timekeeping is virtually ignored, and it’s not uncommon to see people doing all kinds of things at late hours of the “night” – say 3 a.m – like doing house chores, swimming or playing ball in their yards. Since it’s always daylight, everyone sleeps whenever they feel like it. It’s been like this for generations, but now the people of Sommarøy want to officially declare their island a time-free zone.

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