Funny old world: The offbeat news of the week
From poultry imitators to phone gulps and a store owner who ran away with a winning scratch card. Your weekly roundup of quirky stories from around the world.
– What the duck! –
Science was rocked this week by the news that ducks can talk. What is more, they are imitators of quackery.
Even the biologist Carel ten Cate, who made the discovery, said he “found it hard to believe” that Australian musk ducks could parrot human speech.
But studying the recordings of a duck called “Ripper” muttering not only “You are a fool” but reproducing the sound of a closing door, left little room for doubt.
Like Donald Duck, the world’s most famous drake, however, the Ripper’s speech wasn’t perfect.
Instead of an idiot, he said “Mad Lord”, the “l” apparently being difficult for the ducks to articulate.
Their strange vocal abilities are mainly used to attack other ducks with insults to the poultry mouth or for courtship displays in order to attract the opposite sex.
– Rhinoceros upside down –
The Nobel Prizes were won for less. And certainly Ig Nobel, the annual alternative prize for wacky or unusual research.
This year’s winners include a study on how orgasms can help with nasal decongestion and why it’s best to carry rhinos upside down.
– Hard to swallow –
Surgeons in Kosovo removed a cell phone from the stomach of a 33-year-old prisoner four days after swallowing it to hide it from prison guards.
Skender Telaku told AFP he used an endoscopy to disassemble the phone inside the man’s stomach without opening it.
“It was the battery that worried us the most … the corrosive acid could have leaked,” he added.
Fortunately, the phone did not ring or vibrate during the delicate process.
“It was like walking through a minefield, but luckily everything went well,” Dr Telaku added.
– Triumph of the sea –
Have a thought for what those valiant Australians who took part in the Beer Can Regatta in Darwin, the capital of the Australian outback.
To make one of their original amphibious devices from thousands of recycled “tinnies”, competitors had to empty them first, a process that involved drinking all the beer to avoid wastage.
– What ticket –
Their selflessness is nothing compared to the Naples tobacconist who scampered off with her elderly client’s 500,000 euro lottery scratch card when she called to claim her winnings.
After fleeing the city, he planned to deposit the card in a bank and wait for the commotion to subside.
But his luck was cut short when detectives arrested him at Rome Fiumicino Airport as he attempted to board a plane bound for the Canary Islands.
Although he denies stealing the scratch card – and files an official complaint against his 70-year-old client – his tobacconist’s license has been suspended.
– Whisper dearest –
This week, police discovered that an Austrian had embalmed his deceased mother and kept her in the cellar for a year so he could claim her pension.
The Tyrolean first froze his 89-year-old mother, then wrapped her kitty litter and bandages to mummify her, investigators found.