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More Weird Tidbits From 1987 and Beyond

Condor Kidnaps Child

Deutsche Press Agency reported in April of 1986 that a rural Peruvian mother claimed a condor swooped down from the skies and flew off with her four-week-old child. The Lima newspaper Expresso identified her as 35-year-old Donatila Taype Cardenas. She told authorities she had put the baby down in a field near Andahuaylas in the mountainous province of Apurimac and looked up moments later to see a giant bird flying off with her infant in its talons.

Fossil Pit Yields Record Sized Skeleton

University of Florida paleontologists have unearthed the skeleton of a seven million year old shovel-tusked mastodon — the world’s largest extinct mammal — from a fossil pit in Marion County. The pit also contained complete or nearly complete fossilized skeletons of horses, a sloth, rhinos and alligators. The mastodon, an extinct early relative of the elephant, stood nearly 12 feet high at its shoulder, according to the scientists. It is 50 percent larger than a typical mastodon and 20 percent larger than a Mongolian skeleton which, until the Marion County discovery, was the world’s largest. These finds, reported in January of 1987, are forcing scientists to reevaluate their view of the prehistoric word.

Why are Jays Blue?

The feathers of blue jays have no blue pigments. So why are blue jays blue? According to Science News, Leonard W. Winchester, Jr. of Science and Technology Corporation in Hampton, Va., has found that tiny cells in the feathers’ barbs scatter the light the same way the atmosphere scatters light to make the sky appear to be blue.

Iceland Gets Tough on Tobacco

Iceland requires some of the strongest warnings ever to appear on cigarette packages, according to the Chicago Tribune, and the warnings are illustrated for the great impact. One is a blue drawing of a pregnant woman that bears the caption, “Smoking during pregnancy endangers the health of other and child.”

Iceland has a population of just 240,000 and health officials are concerned because 40 percent of the people over the age of 16 smoke.

Spaceflight Deconditions Rats

In the fall of 1985, the Houston Space Center released the findings of Richard Grindeland who dissected 24 rats flown on the space shuttle the previous spring. The rats experienced massive losses of muscle and bone strength during the week in orbit and returned to the earth limp “like dishrags,” Grindeland said. He suggests that astronauts on long voyages may need protection from the wasting effects of zero gravity.

Lemur Found Alive

A bamboo eating lemur with rusty-red fur and golden cheeks, thought to have become extinct, was rediscovered in the mountainous rain-forests of Madagascar, scientists announced in September of 1986. Patricia Wright, a Duke University primatologist who found it, said the lemur is a four-legged, tree-dwelling creature the size of a large cat. Russell Mittermeier, director of the primate program of the World Wildlife Fund-U.S., called this “the most significant primatological discovery of the decade.”

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