- "At 14 years old and 6-foot-9, Elisany Silva is the tallest teenager in the world," The Huffington Post website reports. "Her height hasn't come without problems - she had to leave school and her parents don't have enough money to determine the cause of or treat her for inordinate growth. But Elisany wants to make the best of her size, explaining that she is interested in modelling. She will reportedly be making her runway debut at a bridal fashion show in Belem, Brazil."
- A bear has become a minor celebrity in a Chinese zoo by happily posing for pictures with tourists, Orange News U.K. website reports. Tian Tian was forced to retire from her job at a circus, where she performed on the parallel bars and a bike, because she was obese. When she first arrived at the zoo and tourists began to request pictures, officials decided to turn her into a full-time "picture bear." She soon began to adopt special poses for photographers by putting on a casual look and leaning on a fence.
Who's for lunch?
"The world's first known human cannibals ate each other to satisfy their nutritional needs, concludes a new study of the remains of cannibal feasts consumed about one million years ago," Jennifer Viegas writes for Discovery News. "The humans-as-food determination negates other possibilities, such as cannibalism for its own sake, or cannibalism due to starving. … 'These practices were conducted by Homo antecessor, who inhabited Europe one million years ago,' according to the research team, led by Eudald Carbonell. Carbonell, a professor at the University of Rovira and Virgili in Spain, added that Homo antecessor was 'the last common ancestor between the African lineage that gave rise to our species, Homo sapiens, and the lineage leading to the European Neanderthals.' " The study, published in the latest issue of Current Anthropology, is based on discoveries at a cave site near Burgos, Spain. The researchers point out that the consumed individuals came from a variety of age groups, ranging from young children to young adults.
Teacher's rookie mistake
"An Australian high-school teacher caused a stir [last]week after asking her class to plan a terror attack that would kill as many innocent people as possible," CNN.com reports. "The teacher of a society and environment class told her pupils to plan a chemical or biological attack in Australia, the Australian Associated Press reported. The students were instructed to explain how they would choose victims and were urged to devise a plan to kill as many innocent people as possible, the news agency reported. The teacher cancelled the assignment after a 15-year-old student objected to it. … The principal of the school said the assignment was made by a young inexperienced teacher."
"Britons may be famous for their lack of fashion sense and Italians for their style," The Daily Telegraph says. "But it appears we may have inherited one of our biggest sartorial crimes from the Romans. New evidence from an archeological dig has found that legionnaires wore socks with sandals. Rust on a nail from a Roman sandal found in newly discovered ruins in North Yorkshire appears to contain fibres which could suggest that a sock-type garment was being worn. Now scientists are examining the remains in the laboratory to see if it is true." The site also contains the evidence of socks in 14 graves on the outskirts of the area.
Mosquitoes' good side
The 80-odd species of mosquitoes that drink human blood amount to only 3 per cent of all species, Constance Casey writes for Slate online magazine. "Even the blood-consuming mosquitoes don't need it for every meal. In fact, they suck most of their energy from flowers and plants and are useful as pollinators. The male mosquito, innocent except for his role in producing more females, is happy to subsist on nothing but nectar and plant fluids."
Greening the gods
"In the run-up to the Indian festival Ganesh Chaturthi, which celebrates the Hindu elephant god Ganesh, the message coming from the local Mumbai authorities is: The gods must go green. During the festival, which takes place in September, the household idols are carried to the ocean, where they are immersed and then left to sink to the seabed," Amana Fontanella-Khan writes for The Christian Science Monitor. "This displeases the city's growing number of environmentalists. The size of the idols is a matter of pride for the faithful, and some can be as large as trucks, They are also decorated with tinsel, paint and garlands. Given that more than 200,000 household gods are sunk on the same day, the environmental impact of the festival is high. Many of the paints used contain heavy metals such as mercury and cadmium, and the plaster of Paris sculptures are not biodegradable. Getting people to move from plaster of Paris to eco-friendly clay runs against the religious sentiment of some worshippers."
Thought du jour
"I wished now that I had gone to the restaurant across the street where the food had at least the merit of being tasteless."
- Peter de Vries