Mark Burns is a South Carolina pastor who is such a big Trump fan that he would risk his life to save the president from sure peril. Sort of. Burns was standing behind Trump in the Oval Office on Monday for an award presentation when he saw a white spider the size of a half-dollar crawling up the president’s back. Before the spider bit the president, Burns slapped the spider, and Trump, with his bare hand. Burns went on to reassure security that he was not trying to assassinate the president. The spider turned out to be a yellow-sac spider, which has a non-fatal but painful bite.
Don’t Stop Me Now
Normally, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” is off limits at karaoke nights. Freddie Mercury’s high notes are pretty unattainable to the average bar-goer, unless of course you’re an opera star. Over Thanksgiving a group of Metropolitan Opera stars found their way onto a very different kind of stage to sing karaoke at Whispers in New York City. Mezzo-soprano Susan Graham and tenor Paul Groves led the charge with a little help from tenor Barry Banks who, according to the New York Times, joined in with an exuberant air guitar solo. The Times described the night as an “opera gala with highly eccentric programming, or perhaps a jukebox musical with a very distinguished cast.”
Whale Shark Fingerprints
At about 33 feet long the whale shark is the world’s largest fish. Unfortunately, its place on the endangered species list does not seem to be going away anytime soon. Helping the whale shark population is difficult because scientists don’t know exactly how many whale sharks exist. Marine biologists are getting a little help from NASA to identify each whale shark by the unique pattern of spots on their backs. The astronomical algorithm that marine biologists are borrowing was first invented by E. J. Groth in the 1980s and was later used on data from the Hubble Space Telescope. It works by matching patterns of triangles within a given area. The patterns on whale sharks are like fingerprints, so using the algorithm can help scientists to keep track of how many whale sharks are out in the wild.
Cute or Terrifying?
The average penguin seems pretty cute and harmless (Happy Feet was a hit for a reason), but the idea of human-sized penguins might actually be the stuff of nightmares. A study published in Nature Communications found that there is evidence that a 5 foot 6 inch penguin lived in New Zealand 60 million years ago. Other giant penguin fossils have been found before, but the recent findings are the oldest. Scientists think that this fossil might indicate a strain of gigantism that ended when larger animals evolved in the ocean.
Jesus’ Secret Message
A statue of Jesus Christ on display in a cathedral in Spain has been hiding a secret message for hundreds of years, but it’s not where you’d expect it to be. A handwritten 1777 letter penned by a chaplain of the Cathedral of Burgo de Osma was found beneath a cloth that covered the statue’s backside. The letter discussed the statue and others created by the same sculptor, but also included fun facts about Spanish daily life in the 1770s, including popular games of the day and that typhoid and malaria were common in the society of that era. The original document has been sent to an archbishop in the Roman Catholic Church, but a copy was returned to the statue’s butt for posterity.
The Real Montreal Underground
Saint-Leonard, a district in eastern Montreal known for its exquisite Italian cuisine, is a vibrant community, but not many people know there was much more to the district below the surface. Local spelunkers and cave enthusiasts already knew about a 115-foot-wide cavern called Saint-Leonard Cave discovered in 1812 located underneath Pie XII Park, but recently the cave network was discovered to be vastly larger than what was once believed. The cave system took shape during the last Ice Age and includes stalactites hanging from 20-foot ceilings and a cavern that’s 600 feet wide.
For generations a 300-pound sphinx waited underneath the hot sands of the Guadalupe-Nopomo dunes on the California coast to be unearthed. At long last this preserved treasure has awakened. The sphinx isn’t from a lost civilization, but was a prop for the black and white silent 1923 film, The Ten Commandments, directed by Cecil B. DeMille. The 94-year-old sphinx and the rest of the multi-million dollar 800-foot-wide Egyptian themed set was buried because it was too expensive to move and too valuable to allowed to be poached by rival studios. The latest discovery is unlike others found in the past, however. The plaster sphinx has retained its bright colors.
Stay Out of the Basement
What’s creepier than plant people living in your basement ala Goosebumps? Sharks, of course. More than half a dozen sharks were found in a basement during a search of a home in New York state. Seven live sandbar sharks, two dead leopard sharks, and a dead hammerhead shark were found inside the property in Lagrangeville, N.Y., on Aug. 23. The sharks were found swimming in a 15-foot long pool and were captured, measured, and tagged before they were transported to the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead, N.Y.