Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Just the Facts? - The Staffordshire Hoard, Mexican Fireball and Pissed-Off Elves


Staffordshire Hoard 'to help rewrite history'

A haul of Anglo-Saxon gold discovered beneath a Staffordshire farmer's field could help rewrite history, experts say.

Historians believe the Staffordshire Hoard could hold vital clues to explain the conversion of Mercia - England's last great pagan kingdom - to Christianity in the 7th Century.

The hoard was found buried on a farm in Staffordshire in July 2009.

The 1,500 pieces of gold are thought to be the spoils of an Anglo-Saxon battle.
'Warring kingdoms'

TV historian Dan Snow believes the find has the potential to rewrite the history books.

Speaking on BBC1's The Staffordshire Hoard, he said the conversion of Mercia "marked the beginning of a new era in English history".

"The Staffordshire Hoard is helping shine a light on exactly how and when the transformation occurred," he explained.

Historian David Starkey said: "England, remember, isn't England at all; England has yet to be invented - the word barely exists.

"Instead, there were these rival warring Anglo-Saxon kingdoms that behaved like the worst kind of takeover bidders of the city.

"They decapitated each other - literally, not metaphorically.

"It's gang warfare, when you take over the territory of a rival gang, the lot get bumped off."

Mercia was one of Britain's largest and most aggressive kingdoms, stretching from Humber to London.

The pagan kings of Mercia resisted conversion to Christianity until it became surrounded by Christian states late in the 7th Century.

Historians believe the hoard could give the last glimpse of Paganism and the first of Christianity.

The largest-ever haul of Anglo-Saxon gold found in Britain, the Staffordshire Hoard was discovered buried beneath a farmer's field near Brownhills by amateur metal detector enthusiast Terry Herbert.

The hoard comprises more than 1,500 items, made of gold and silver, embedded with precious stones and jewels and was valued at nearly £3.3m.

After the Staffordshire Coroner ruled in September 2009 that the find was the "property of the Crown", arrangements were made for the valuation.

The money was split between Mr Herbert, and Fred Johnson, who owns the farm where it was discovered.

More than 40 items from the Staffordshire Hoard are on display in this summer's Tour 2011 across the West Midlands. - BBC

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Orange lobster looks cooked....but actually a rarity

When a Quebec grocery store opened a shipment of lobsters, one of the crustaceans looked like it had already been boiled and was ready to eat — until it started to move.

France Dauphin, who has worked in the fish department at the Trois-Rivières IGA for seven years, said she was taken aback when she opened the shipment.

“I found it, and ‘Hey, what’s that! Is it cooked? No, it’s alive!’ ” she laughed, and said that no one at the store had ever seen a lobster like that.

It wasn’t a zombie lobster, back from the boiling pot to terrorize bib-wearing diners, just a genetic rarity — only one in 10 million lobsters get that just-cooked look on their shell naturally.

The lobster was named Youppi, after the ginger-furred mascot of the old Montreal Expos who now cheers for the Montreal Canadiens. Ms. Dauphin said the store isn’t sure where the lobster came from, but most of their lobsters come from Nova Scotia, and all of them are from Canada.

Though many customers have tried, the IGA isn’t planning on selling the rare crustacean and are working on finding it a new home, most likely at the New Brunswick Aquarium and Marine Centre in Shippigan, about 10 hours away. For now, it is kept in a tank with the other normal green and brown lobsters, where it enjoys a diet of shrimp twice a day, which staff drop into the water right in front of it.

The New Brunswick aquarium plans to take the lobster and are working on a way to transport it, said Laurent Robichaud, the centre’s co-ordinator of development and promotion. The centre has blue, white and speckled lobsters, Mr. Robichaud said, but they haven’t had an orange one for a few years.

Early last month a P.E.I. fisherman brought in a vibrant blue lobster, the first one caught in the province since 2009 and one in four million. Another blue one was caught two weeks later in P.E.I. - nationalpost

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Dramatic fireball over Cuernavaca, Mexico

A flaming UFO was seen falling through the sky above Cuernavaca, Mexico on June 29.

The object looks like a meteorite dropping from the sky, with a bright pinkish orb at the bottom trailed by two long glowing orange tails.

Similar unidentified fiery objects have been sighted in other countries, for example Melbourne, Australia in March.

An obvious explanation is that they are meteorites that ignite into shooting stars when they impact with Earth's atmosphere.

Curving Fireball UFO in Germany on Feb. 11

But one such object filmed over Berlin, Germany on Feb. 11 exhibited an unusual behavior. This UFO is also seen falling through the sky, leaving a much longer flaming trace behind it.

Then, inexplicably, as it passes behind a dark cloud, the object changes its trajectory mid-flight, dispelling the idea that it could be a meteorite.

Another fireball UFO like this was spotted above Puert Montt, Chile on May 28 with video footage showing a drastic change in trajectory during its fall.

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Rare donkey-zebra mix born in Xiamen Haicang Safari Park

A rare hybrid cross of a donkey father and a zebra mother is attracting attention in the Xiamen Haicang Safari Park after he was born on Sunday, reports Xiamen Daily.

The "zedonk" has black and white stripes prominently displayed on his four legs, but his brown body haired looks more like a donkey, said one of his keepers at the park.

He is said to be in good health and has bonded well with his zebra mother, who raises her powerful hind legs to attack any animal or zoo keeper trying to reach the baby animal.

The Xiamen Haicang Safari Park keeps its only zebra and 3 male donkeys in the same enclosure. Zoo keepers didn’t know about the mate until the zebra got pregnant the last July, leaving it hard to identify the real father among the 3 donkeys.

It’s the fourth reported case around the world, and Prof. Wang Yiquan from Xiamen University said donkeys and zebras are different species having the same chromosome which makes a hybrid offspring biologically work, but the romance would not likely happen if the two animals were not kept in the closed breeding environment together. - whatsonxiamen

NOTE: is it a zonkey, donkzey or zedonk? Lon

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Pissed-off elves bombard Icelandic town with rocks

The good burghers of the Icelandic town of Bolungarvik have intervened to prevent further action by elves who are evidently unhappy they weren't consulted about the construction of an anti-avalanche barrier.

Bolungarvik recently suffered a bombardment of rocks during "routine dynamiting" on the barrier, with fist-sized missiles causing damage to several properties.

This led locals to suspect the huldufólk (hidden people) had finally got a bit miffed with civil engineering projects, including the construction last year of a road tunnel through a hill.

Icelandic folklore advises caution when venturing into possible huldufólk territory, and disturbing the rocks in which they're believed to live.

Bolungarvik's council rejected calls by "seers" to apologise to the Little People for the disruption, claiming there was a perfectly logical explanation for the dynamite mishap.

The townsfolk responded last week by organising an impromptu appeasement ceremony at the blasting site, offering song and prayers in the hope of restoring peace between humans and huldufólk.

Local musician Benedikt Sigurdsson explained: “I have now been asked by both elves and men to broker a compromise here, and I hope that this song will suffice." - theregister
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