; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Monday, January 13, 2014

Daily 2 Cents: Raining Dead Bats in Australia -- Malta Needs Exorcists -- Owls Attacking People in Missouri

Raining dead bats in Australia

Around 100,000 bats have fallen from the sky and died during a blistering heatwave in Australia.

Temperatures up to 43C are to blame for the mass deaths in at least 25 colonies in southern Queensland, the RSPCA said yesterday.

The bats have caused havoc in townships with teams of rubbish collectors run off their feet clearing them from trees and bushes.

Some residents say they have had to put up with the stench of rotting carcasses for four days.

At least 16 people have needed anti-viral treatment after being scratched by dying bats.

A Bat Rescue spokesman warned: "Don't touch them, they're stressed. If they do break your skin you can get a vaccination." He said people should not try to clear them up themselves.


Malta needs exorcists

The Catholic Church is training more priests to be able to carry out exorcisms – including, apparently, in Malta, 'where a spike in devil-worshipping practices has caused concern among Catholics' – in a bid to address a growth in occult worship, international media are reporting.

According to The Daily Beast, training programmes to train priests seeking to perform exorcisms have been launched in Italy, Spain and Malta.

Fr Vincenzo Taraborelli, a 76-year-old Rome-based priest who has been carrying out exorcisms for the past 50 years and who has trained hundreds of priests to perform the rite, is one of the priests involved in the new training programmes launched in Italy.

His services are in great demand – he performs up to 100 exorcisms in some weeks – even though he concedes that the need for an exorcism is actually very rare.

However, the Catholic Church is also seeking to address quality control and put an end to what Fr Taraborelli describes as the “dangerous” practice of exorcism by untrained novices.

Perhaps the most popular perception of what exorcists do is based on the 1973 horror film The Exorcist, but actual exorcists often emphasise that the rite is not quite as sensational as people may believe.

Fr Taraborelli explains that the church is very clear on the rite, pointing out that the person requesting the exorcism must be seen by medical professionals to ensure that what is perceived to be demonic possession is not mental illness – which may present similar symptoms.

The exorcists must themselves go to confession or otherwise clear their own soul before they officiate over the rite, wearing a purple stole over a simple tunic.

The possessed person then kneels before the priest, who sprinkles holy water on himself, the penitent and any bystanders who may be present. A string of prayers follows, before the exorcist attempts to drive the devil away with a special prayer.

The process may be repeated as often as necessary. Should it work, Fr Taraborelli explains, the newly-liberated person is urged to spend a lot of time in serious prayer, which he compares to taking vitamins after getting rid of a bad bout of flu. - Independent


Leonardo DiCaprio scared of his house

According to actor Leonardo DiCaprio, his house makes strange sounds in the middle of the night. The star told the UK TV show “Lorraine” today that he doesn’t even believe in ghosts.

“My home makes weird noises at times and I have to get up in the middle of the night and check if there’s somebody breaking in,” DiCaprio said. “I don’t know, it’s like creaking or something, it’s weird ghost noises but I don’t believe in ghosts so, it’s like the wind or the way it was built,” he said about his house.

The 39-year-old celebrity said he gets terrified sometimes when he hears strange noises in his house. He doesn’t believe the home is haunted however because he doesn’t believe in ghosts.


Owls attacking people in Missouri

Strange days in Missouri. Why strange? KY3 News has been receiving multiple reports that people in southeast Springfield have been “attacked” by owls, plural, or perhaps just one particularly aggressive owl.

There’s Timmery Clark, who sent the station a picture of a bird just hanging out on the back of her head. Clark told KYTV, “It was very gentle--I thought it might hurt me, but both times it very calmly and gently settled on my head (even though I was laughing and screaming). It was pretty surreal, but a funny moment to have caught on film!”

There’s Rance Cooper, who also had an owl come at his head, “I just turned just in time to see the claws right here, coming at my face. That's when I ducked, and he hit the head and started grabbing, and I started swatting, not looking too masculine at that point.” His son, Ty, was also attacked by an owl.

KSPR ABC 33 News talked with Audre Langebartel, who told them, “We were outside talking like where are we going next type stuff and then I look up at the light and I see a huge bird coming at me, and I immediately ran forward and kind of squealed and ducked down really quick. As soon as I ducked down I felt the owl on me and he just stuck on me and moved around on my back.”

So what gives? Springfield Nature Center naturalist Kim Banner told KSPR, “They're going to be protecting territories and protecting nests and they just tend to get more aggressive this time of year however the Great Horned Owl has been known to attack people for no apparent reason.” Ok, so it’s possible owls are just doing this because they can.

KY3 notes, that because these owls are federally protected, a USDA representative is helping the Missouri Department of Conservation to see if they can find where the owl is nesting so they can trap and relocate it. In the meantime, keep an eye on the sky, Springfielders. - Yahoo


Living on islands makes animals tamer

Most of us have seen pictures and probably YouTube videos of "tame" animals on the Galapagos Islands, the biological paradise that was Charles Darwin's major source of inspiration as he observed nature and gradually developed his ideas about the importance of natural selection as a mechanism by which populations of organisms would change -- evolve genetically -- across generations, eventually becoming better and better suited to life in their current conditions. A corollary of Darwin's revolutionary idea was that organisms would also evolve to lose structures, functions, and behaviors they no longer needed when environmental circumstances changed. He noted that island animals often acted tame, and presumed that they had evolved to be so after coming to inhabit islands that lacked most predators.

But more than 150 years later that almost casual observation remained to come under scientific scrutiny. Today, a team of researchers from the University of California, Riverside, Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne and George Washington University published a study showing that island lizards are indeed "tame" as compared with their mainland relatives. The researchers were able to approach island lizards more closely than they could approach mainland lizards.

"Our study confirms Darwin's observations and numerous anecdotal reports of island tameness," said Theodore Garland, a professor of biology at UC Riverside and one of the paper's coauthors. "His insights have once again proven to be correct, and remain an important source of inspiration for present-day biologists."

Study results appear online in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. They will appear in the journal in print on Feb. 22.

The researchers conducted analyses of relationships of flight initiation distance (the predator-prey distance when the prey starts to flee) to distance to mainland, island area, and occupation of an island for 66 lizard species, taking into account differences in prey size and predator approach speed. They analyzed island and mainland lizard species from five continents and islands in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas.

Their results showed that island tameness exists and that flight initiation distance decreases as distance from mainland increases. In other words, island lizards were more accessible the farther the islands were from the mainland.

"The suggestion by Darwin and others that prey on oceanic islands have diminished escape behavior is supported for lizards, which are distributed widely on both continents and islands," Garland said.

He explained that escape responses are reduced on remote islands, because predators are scarce or absent there, and natural selection under reduced predation favors prey that do not waste time and energy developing and performing needless escape.

The research team also found that prey size is an important factor that affects escape behavior.

"When prey are very small relative to predators, predators do not attack isolated individual prey," Garland said. "This results in the absence of fleeing or very short flight initiation distance."

The researchers found no conclusive evidence showing that flight initiation distance is related to island area. They found, however, that predator approach speed is an important factor in lizards.

"It is possible that other factors favor island tameness. For example, if food is scarce on islands, the cost of leaving food to flee would favor shortened flight initiation distance," Garland said.

Garland was joined in the study by William E. Cooper Jr. (first author of the research paper) at Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne, Ind., and R. Alexander Pyron at the George Washington University, Wash. D.C - Esciencenews



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