Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Seal

Researchers in Scotland have taught three gray seals to sing songs like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” and the theme to “Star Wars.” Scientists at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland raised the trio of seals from birth in order to study how the animals might succeed at vocal learning, which is a crucial skill for learning a language, but is also relatively rare in the animal kingdom. The seals were trained to copy sequences of their own sounds, which were turned into melodies and they also learned to copy human vowel sounds. But it took hundreds of trials to teach the seals to bark out the tunes. Don’t expect the seals to be the next pop star sensation.

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I Want It That Way

Another music themed Bizarro Brief comes from a subway ride in New York City, in which a group of riders all shared a sing-a-long moment courtesy of “I Want It That Way” by 1990s pop group the Backstreet Boys. A civil rights attorney at Shanies Law captured video footage of the spontaneous subway sing-a-long, which started when a shirtless man walked between cars on the 4 Line with a speaker playing the song. The video went viral and has gained more than 1.3 million online views.

Singing like a bird

A 39-year-old man from Connecticut was recently caught trying to smuggle nearly three dozen live finches through John F. Kennedy Airport, which he planned on selling for singing competitions. The man was arrested after arriving at JFK from a flight from Georgetown, Guyana. Custom officials found 34 live birds in his carry-on luggage hidden inside individual plastic hair curlers. The man is arraigned on the charge of unlawful wildlife smuggling. Finches from Guyana are prized and are often used in singing contests in Brooklyn and Queens where wages are placed on the birds with the best voices. The man planned on selling each finch for about $3,000, which would have totaled at more than $100,000.

A $10,000 penny pyramid

It took a man from Arizona three years to build a pyramid from more than a million pennies, which might earn him a Guinness world record. The man is known on YouTube as the “Penny Building Fool” and assembled the 44.6-inch penny pyramid by creating 93,665 small stacks of 11 pennies. The base of the structure is 65 stacks long and 65 stacks wide. The pyramid weighs 6,360 pounds. He was inspired to attempt the world record when a co-worker asked if his previous penny pyramid, consisting of 47,000 pennies, was a world record. It wasn’t, but researching the topic led to the creation of the massive potentially world-record breaking penny pyramid. The current world recorder holder is in Lithuania, where a pyramid was assembled from just over a million pennies.

Haunted witch prison for sale

“The Cage” was once a medieval prison for women accused of witchcraft, which is now on sale as a small cozy home. Prospective buyers beware: the jail’s history has led many to claim the house is the most haunted in England, which British real estate agency Home Domus 360 wrote in a listing on Facebook. The house is located in St. Osyth in Essex, U.K. The current owner has tried to sell the home twice before since moving out in 2008. During the St. Osyth witch trials in 1582, 14 women were accused of witchcraft, three of whom were executed. One of the accused, Ursula Kemp, was a local healer who was sentenced to death by hanging. She is commemorated in a plaque that hangs on one of the former prison’s walls. In 1921, two female skeletons, which were thought to be the remains of executed women falsely accused of being witches, were unearthed in a St. Osyth garden during a construction project. The asking price for the home is 240,000 British pounds, which is $305,478 in U.S. dollars.

Sourtoe Cocktail

In the town of Dawson, located on the Yukon River in northwest Canada, there’s a hotel bar serving up a mixed drink called the Sourtoe Cocktail, which contains Yukon Gold Whiskey and a dehydrated human toe as a garnish. Yeah, you read that right. An actual human toe. The tradition started in 1973 and the hotel bar has served more than 86,000 Sourtoe Cocktails. Recently, a former British Marine sent his big toe to the bar, which he lost to frostbite, after an extreme multi-day marathon along Yukon’s dog sled trail. The toe was preserved with alcohol before being sent to the saloon. It joins two other toes that have been donated to the hotel since 2013. There’s even a hotel “Toe Master” in charge of determining whether donated toes are fit to be added to a drink. Unless the toes are preserved in medical grade alcohol right after being amputated, they aren’t much use to the bar. The toes are then mummified by being stored in rock salt for six weeks.

Mariah Curie

You likely wouldn’t think pop star and singer-songwriter Mariah Carey and famed chemist and Nobel prize winner Marie Curie have anything in common. Well, you’d be wrong. It turns out that their names sound similar enough to goof up on a birthday cake. Such was the case when Toronto, Canada-based novelist Harriet Alida Lye ordered a Mariah Carey cake, only to discover that someone had misheard and created a Marie Curie cake instead. Photos of the lighthearted cake goof have since gone viral on the internet.

The worst kind of river

Several residents of Melrose, Massachusetts, were forced to leave their homes when an underground blockage caused raw sewage to spew forth from the depths of their toilets in four homes, which one resident dubbed a “tornado of poop.” The sewage blockage took place on Brazil Street and resulted in the entire system being backed up. The bathrooms in the four neighborhood homes were left covered in a river of poop, which spewed from their toilets without warning.

India’s official mustache

A congressional leader in India’s parliament recently demanded that an Indian Air Force pilot wing commander’s “gunslinger moustache” be declared India’s national moustache. The wing commander recently returned two days after he was captured by Pakistan when his MiG-21 jet fighter crashed in the neighboring country, which India maintains a tense relationship with. The pilot was released as a peace gesture by Pakistani officials on March 1.