[February 1–February 7, 2021] Drunk birds, killer linguistics, and a snowy surprise in Central Park—all round-up in this week’s weird news from Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
Birds Commit Party Fowl After Ingesting Fermented Berries
Fort Worth residents have reported sightings of a group of North Texas cedar waxwings acting suspiciously after eating fermented berries! The lightweight birds were accused of drinking and diving as they swarmed the area confusedly, crashing into windows.
According to urban wildlife biologist, Rachel Richter, it’s fairly common for the birds to become intoxicated after overindulging on fermented berries.
Richter believes the rise in reports this year isn’t so much that the birds are partying extra hard, but rather that people stuck at home due to COVID-19 are paying closer attention.
As far as the birds’ health is concerned, the biggest risk is their destructive diving. Cedar waxwings have large livers that are perfectly suited for detoxifying ethanol, preventing any long-term illness.
220 Million-Year-Old Fossil Discovered By Four-Year-Old
A four-year-old Welsh girl snagged the ultimate souvenir when she stumbled upon a dinosaur fossil while walking along the beach with her family.
Lily Wilder was rock hunting along Bendricks Bay when she called her father, Richard, over to check out her latest find. He immediately noticed that the rock his daughter so proudly presented was actually a dinosaur footprint!
The family posted a picture of the fossil on Facebook, drawing the attention of National Museum Wales, where it will be displayed next to a plaque featuring Lily.
Curator Cindy Howells of National Museum Wales called the 220-million-year-old fossil “one of the best-preserved examples from anywhere in the U.K.”
Naked Mole-Rats Have Accents, Y’all
Once called “God’s disgusting mistake” by Gina Linetti of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” naked mole-rats are known for their unfortunate appearance, resistance to cancer, and unique social behaviors. This week, researchers added yet another fascinating trait to the list after discovering that each colony has its own distinct dialect used to identify intruders.
During the study, researchers from Germany’s Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine and the University of Pretoria in South Africa recorded more than 36,000 variations of chirps, hisses, squeaks, and grunts made by 166 rats across seven different colonies.
Naked mole-rats live in large underground colonies, where they each play a specific role to serve their queen, who rules with a cold-blooded fist. Because the queen rat can only produce so many babies as the sole mating female, they grow their colonies by invading others and use their language to identify intruders.
The aggressive little sand puppies do not take kindly to outsiders, often identifying and murdering interlopers within minutes!
Interestingly, the dialects change as the queens are replaced, creating periods of anarchy as the females fight to the death to determine who will be the next leader.
Snowy Owl Returns to New York City After 131-Year Absence
A snowy owl has been spotted in New York’s Central Park for the first time since 1890.
Typically found in more northern regions, a beautiful snowy owl swooped into the park Wednesday morning, as onlookers captured pictures for social media.
While the species is sometimes seen in Long Island, this is the first time one has taken a trip to the big city since 1890.
The NYC Audubon conservation group urged onlookers to keep their distance and exercise caution to ensure the bird enjoyed its visit undisturbed.
Just incredible to see a Snowy owl in Central Park yesterday! It’s only the second time one has been recorded in the park, the first time being in 1890! Thanks to those that reported the sighting so that so many were able to see this spectacular bird! #birdcp #centralparkbirds pic.twitter.com/ywESRToY8M
— Bradley Kane (@WinoBradNY) January 28, 2021
Mutant Spinach Goes Viral
A 2016 study about mutant spinach broke the internet on Tuesday as users began to fear receiving a “per my last email” message from the healthy green.
Euronews resurfaced the study, titled “Nitroaromatic detection and infrared communication from wild-type plants using plant nanobionics,” which details an alteration of the plant that would make it capable of detecting explosives and sending email alerts.
Researchers from MIT and the University of California, Riverside, worked together to embed teeny tiny sensors into the veggie’s leaves to detect compounds found in explosives. Once the compounds were detected, the leaves gave a fluorescent signal, which alerted an infrared camera connected to a computer to send an email notification.
Future uses of the technology could lead to the early detection of droughts and environmental changes.
By Meghan Yani, contributor for Ripleys.com