Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Archive for November, 2008

Video: Giant, alien, elbowed squid

It’s a creepy footage, underwater, night-shot, shaky camera and, of course, a monster. All the right ingredients for another Internet viral – as the video was indeed being spread by email.

But the image is very real, and the horrifying creature is “just” a squid. Granted, a giant, obscure and particularly bizarre squid genus: Magnapinna. Around 7 m in lenght, possibly more, it purports very long, thin arms spread like the structure of an umbrella, as if each arm had an “elbow”. Scientists speculate that that stops the arms from entangling. It’s not easy being a giant squid.

This is not actually the first video of the species that at first glance look a lot like the aliens from Independence Day – given the first video footage of Magnapinna was taken in 1988, we may guess who inspired who. Click the alien with open wireless Internet and without antivirus in their computers for more videos. Of Magnapinna, of course.


Want to have sweet nightmares with giant squids? The graphic below may be useful. In order, all the known large squid species circling a poor little fellow. From left to right:


Mesonychoteuthis, Architeuthis, Dosidicus, Taningia, Onykia, Magnapinna, Kondakovia, Galiteuthis, Megalocranchia, Asperoteuthis.

More on The Other Gigantic Squids [via NatGeo]

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Waking up at a 1,000 feet: case (probably) solved

Tonight’s ‘Fantástico’ TV show investigated the case of Odair Berti, who at the beginning of this month woke up to find himself 1,000 feet from the ground over a steep and inaccessible rock. You can watch the segment above, in Portuguese – that’s the man, and that’s the rock.

Odair don’t know how he ended up there – the last thing he knew, he went to sleep early the previous night. A rescue team, Fantástico clarified, took nine hours to get to him with proper equipment. He was tired and dehydrated, but “didn’t have a scratch” in his body, which was protected only by a shorts, a shirt and sandals. No climbing equipment.

Mystery? Solved. Well, probably. Some people will not believe the explanation.

The news program revealed the small detail that Odair is a somnambulist, a sleepwalker. “He has been already found in the streets, at midnight, dreaming. This time he went to sleep at 8PM, in the shed in the middle of the bean crop [near the rock]. He woke up at midnight, at a point of the rock wall 80 meters from the ground”.

Oh, that’s another detail. The rock may be a 1,000 feet high, but Odair didn’t climb to the top. He only climbed up to less than 300 feet. Which is no small feat, but easier to conceive.

But can a sleepwalker not only walk through dense vegetation, but climb 300 feet up a steep rock wall, at night, wearing only sandals and without injuring himself? It may seem unbelievable, as many TV viewers around here are already protesting, but that which we call somnambulism is something quite bizarre.

Behold, dear readers, the not quite widely known… homicidal somnambulism. From Wikipedia:

“Occasionally, sleepwalkers kill people, usually a family member, during their sleepwalking act. There have been several rare cases in which an alleged act of homicide has occurred, and the prime suspect may have committed the act while sleepwalking. About 68 cases to date have been known.”

The illustrative case is that of Kenneth Parks:

“In the early morning hours of May 23rd, 1987, Parks reportedly got up (not awoke) from his sleep, drove roughly 23 km to his in-laws’ home and broke in, assaulted his father-in-law and stabbed his mother-in-law to death. After all this, he managed to drive himself to the police station. Aside from a few isolated events, the next thing he could recall was being at the police station asking for help, saying “I think I have killed some people…my hands.”

Parks’ only defense was that he was asleep during the entire incident and was not aware of what he was doing. Naturally, nobody believed it, even sleep specialists were extremely skeptical. However, after careful investigation, the specialists could find no other explanation. Parks’ EEG readings were highly irregular even for a parasomniac. This combined with the facts that there was no motive, that he was amazingly consistent in his stories for more than seven interviews despite repeated attempts of trying to lead him astray, that the timing of the events fit perfectly with the proposed explanation, and that there is no way to fake EEG results, Parks was acquitted of the murder of his mother-in-law and the attempted murder of his father-in-law.”

Ideally, more investigation should be conducted at the site to gather if it would be indeed inconceivable to Odair to get up to where he was alone – as one firemen argued. Otherwise, for the lack of another plausible hypothesis, and being the orthodox dogmatic thinkers we are, I guess we may assume he managed his way.

For my part, I think it’s important to realize that Odair probably climbed the rock, sleepwalking (sleepclimbing? Ha ha) up until the point he could, through a path that he later couldn’t see or even use as his way back. It’s not very polite to make this comparison, but he may have found himself in the same situation as cats stuck up in trees are.

Odair Berti himself seems to be a simple and sane man, genuinely scared with the prospect that the event could happen again, and he might not be as lucky. I do hope this serves to alert him, so as to make him take the proper measures to deal with his condition.

Does these kinds of sleepwalking seem puzzling? Well, there’s another kind too.

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Adorable. Symbolic too, if you contemplate it. May we send our descendants to explore the Universe. And may they enjoy the sheer pleasure of that.

If you do contemplate the image, though, you may also notice the baby has no diaper on. What that would represent, I have no idea.

A couple of weeks ago, xkcd did a similar, more accurate illustration. [via pya.cc]

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Paper or Plastic?


“An unidentified flying object has been photographed over Filton. Taxi driver Paul Matthews spotted the object in the air near the Royal Mail depot on 2pm on Friday afternoon. He quickly pulled over his car and watched as what he described as a disc-shaped object hovered in the air before disappearing as swiftly as it had appeared.”
From Bristol Evening Post: UFO photographed over Filton

I have been waiting for this moment. Alas, it’s not crystal clear. Can you guess what that UFO was? More pictures here. Some readers of the Evening Post even had the same realization.

This may help you:

The title of the post was a giveaway, but one very plausible explanation for all these records are plastic bags flying with the wind.

Plastic. Bags. Identified.

The videos were recorded by Japanese observers with the UFOCapture software mentioned earlier, and are available in the SonotaCo discussion forum.

We have already explored one other amazing record captured with the software… unidentified flying plastic bags may not be as impressive, but I never quite imagined that shopping bags high in the sky (well, not that high, but higher than you would expect) would be something to consider when investigating UFOs.

Alas, I’m still searching for a clear, definite, illustrative case of a plastic bag mistaken for a spaceship. This British one may not be a plastic bag – it could also be a balloon, or who knows, a flying saucer. But it was good enough for a post. Because it really does look a lot like a shopping bag revolving around.

So, anyway, now you know. Swamp gas is not the most disappointing explanation for a UFO.

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Best Pareidolia Ever


Have you seen Jesus today? The photo above may be a good chance. Sent by Jessica Lundgren from Sweden to paranormal.about.com, you can see the clear profile of a giant bearded man with closed eyes. It does resemble common representations of a fellow named Jesus. Even though that enormous Jesus head doesn’t quite fit into the rest of the image. What’s going on there? Jessica writes that “the child died short after the photo was taken”.


If you look carefully you may recognize that the photo is of a Victorian couple, with a small child sitting on the knee of the man. And then you may realize that that child is Jesus. Or rather that the big white hat of the little one is Jesus’ forehead and his tiny right forearm is Lord’s upper beard. Jesus’ hair is the vegetation in the background. Simply amazing.

[UPDATE] In Simpsons’ colors:



Richelle Hawks makes some further comments, and finds some other less impressive pareidolia in that same old image. “What is most likely, and maybe no less compelling—are the false head and other anomalies just ‘meaningless’ coincidences in which we find/attach/force/desire meaning?”, she asks.

That we first realize a giant face in the photo, even though it doesn’t fit the rest of the image, is probably not a coincidence. We have more neurons dedicated to promptly identifying faces than the ones that recognize Victorian kids sitting on their dad’s lap. That’s why pareidolia happens so often with faces. You don’t usually see Victorian kids in the clouds.

An explanation that I hope doesn’t make this any less compelling: this is really the best pareidolia case ever. Want more? Keep reading for another interesting – and classic, and perhaps controversial – example.

Read more

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