… that today marks the anniversary of Calendar Adjustment Day? In order to correct the current calendar to match the Gregorian calendar, Great Britain and its colonies adjusted their calendars so that the day following September 2 (the 3rd) became September 14, 1752. Most other countries had made the adjustment in 1582. Gives the expression “losing track of time” a whole new meaning! 😉
Today’s Inspirational Quote:
“Do not be satisfied with the stories that come before you. Unfold your own myth.”
Let there be eternal light.
Now you see us.
United in strife, together in peace.
Heaven’s light in the darkness.
Eternal and just.
True and sure.
Taste for battle.
Eternal beacon of light.
Health, peace, prosperity.
Here to stay.
Pick one. Add, modify, delete or change the subject. If not happy Return on Monday for more 🙂
Cannibalism is the act of eating a member of the same species and, while disgusting to most of us, is an extremely common practice throughout the animal kingdom. There are plenty of reasons for cannibalism, such as religious practices, serial murder, or just lack of food in the case of humans. Many other animals will engage in cannibalism without a second thought. Some animals that will, at times, eat members of their own species might surprise you, like the hippo, certain types of bears, salamanders, worms, and various other species.
While animals may do it, somehow, we see as ourselves separate until a complete madman reminds us that we, too, are susceptible to cannibalistic tendencies. Is it possible that, pushed far enough, any one of us human beings possesses the ability to turn into a cannibal? The human race has been pressed plenty since the dawn of history, and we’ve resorted to cannibalism for many reasons. Today, the modern sciences can tell us a lot about cannibalism as we piece together the story of human history and its relationship with the practice. Here are ten facts about human cannibalism that we know thus far.
With all of the current scientific and anthropological literature that we have now, one could say with the utmost of extreme confidence that cannibalism is as old as humanity itself. Evidence in the way of bite, cut, and tool marks have demonstrated that humans would occasionally delve into cannibalism, feasting on their friends, relatives, and fellow tribespeople.
This wasn’t always done due to a lack of food, either. Many instances of prehistoric cannibalism have been found accompanied by homicide and intertribal warfare. In fact, the entire globe is replete with archaeological digsthat confirm the basic facts, that prehistoric humans were violent, murderous, and of course, cannibalistic, even in times when an abundance of food was present.
Neanderthals also practiced cannibalism, quite like we did. There have been excavations of grave sites which have confirmed that Neanderthals would kill, cut up, and eat each other. We know this from the presence of tools, however rudimentary, used for cutting straight lines through bone. These wouldn’t have been used for combat, where blunt force trauma would be expected. Also there are bones with damage that is not consistent with animal attacks, which don’t deliver clean cuts into or through bone.
One site excavated in Krapina, Croatia, contains scattered, fragmentary remains of many Neanderthals. In addition to the clues mentioned above, the skeletal remains at Krapina contain bones which have been burned, which some scientists have touted as clear evidence of cannibalism.
For all the disgust and repulsion we feel when we imagine ourselves taking a big, juicy bite of human flesh, the fact is that cannibalism among animals is surprisingly common and, most of all, a perfectly natural part of the behavior of organisms—including humans. Along with it being a natural, albeit comparatively rare (for humans), behavior, cannibalism is built into at least a very dark corner of the fabric of the human existence. As we’ve discussed, people have been eating people all across the globe for the entirety of human existence.
Cannibalism is likely a natural, innate trait that needs to be activated under certain environmental stimuli. The 1972 crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 shows that even modern humans, who are typically repulsed by the idea and may even have deeply held religious convictions against it, will eat one another if push comes to shove, stuck in the deep, bone-chilling cold, with no recourse for help.
Kuru is a sweet little bit of karma in the form of a prion that devastatingly infects the human brain. Kuru was especially prominent among the Fore people in New Guinea, particularly during the 1950s and 1960s. “Kuru” is a Fore word meaning “to shiver” or “trembling in fear.” Kuru throws its victim off-balance, making simple motor activities more and more difficult as time goes on; it is typically fatal within a year of being contracted.In a quite macabre twist of fate, victims of kuru end up dying of dementia, as the prion from the consumed brain tissue ends up infecting the brain of the consumer. Kuru is slow, steady, and downright awful, so if you were considering cannibalism, particularly eating human brains, take this as a warning: You can catch some seriously nasty pathogens by doing so and end up losing your life within a year.
Kuru is but one ailment in a class of illnesses referred to as prion diseases are a class of many diseases, only a handful of which are known, which cause severe damage to the brain in the form of neurodegeneration and a general breakdown of the brain. Prion diseases that afflict humans include Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker syndrome, fatal familial insomnia, and, of course, kuru. We’re all familiar with a prion disease that afflicts animals, the so-called “mad cow disease.”
These diseases happen because the animal is infected with prions, a form of protein which is highly destructive, yet still not entirely understood. We do know, however, that cannibalism is a risk factor for prion disease. It is actually believed that the early human race suffered from full-blown prion epidemics, as cannibalism was more widespread for various reasons during prehistory. The consumption of humans by humans only led to more dead humans to consume.
But the news isn’t all bad for the Fore people of New Guinea; over the decades of studying them, scientists have found evidence that seems to suggest an immunity developing to prion diseases, making those who practice cannibalism less and less susceptible over time.
Specifically, people who ate people and survived carry a genetic mutationcalled V127. People with thus mutation survived the kuru epidemic, and it appears to grant resistance to other prion diseases as well. Subsequently, scientists bred mice with the V127 mutation. These mice were also found to be resistant to a number of prion diseases.
The research is mixed on how much cannibalism has taken place out of necessity, as opposed to other reasons. For example, it has been proposed that the infamous Aztec human sacrifices may have been more than just rituals but also an act of ecological necessity. As pressure to obtain nutrition for speedily growing populations increased, perhaps so would human sacrifice and cannibalism.
However, this explanation is only a theory. The Aztecs, from what is understood, generally performed human sacrifice in the times of harvest, perhaps as a thanks to the gods, rather than times of famine.Furthermore, the nutrients gained from human consumption would not have been of significant help.
Throughout history, eating human meat, aside from any spiritual or emotional significance that may be imbued into the act, has largely been, at least when it comes to digestion, much like eating other animals. However, while we contain many of the fats, oils, and proteins that other meats contain, cannibalism just isn’t very nutritious, at least not compared to other meats.
Given the nature of modern medicine and making sure experiments are ethical, tests obviously haven’t been done on cooked human flesh. However, we know what the human body is made of, and it’s possible to essentially count the calories of its various parts. There are only approximately 1,300 calories per kilogram of human muscle. Compare that to a full 4,000 calories for bears and boars, and it becomes apparent that human meat is a poor source of energy.
When it comes to consuming calories, not all meats are created equal, as we’ve established. Some are more calorie-dense than others. Nevertheless, the human body as a whole can provide a lot of energy. While you run the risk of catching kuru or other prion diseases, a human brain might fetch you about 2,700 calories, while an upper arm contains approximately 7,400 calories. An entire adult human male contains around 125,800 calories.
Still, when it comes to the intake of raw energy for survival, human meat simply isn’t a good bargain, compared to other, more dense animals with heavier muscles. Compare a grown adult man’s 125,800 calories to a woolly rhinoceros’s 1,260,000 calories or an mammoth’s 3,600,000 calories. What kind of meat to look for if you’re trying to survive in the wild is a no-brainer.
1Humans In The Lab
In case you thought cannibalism was a dying practice, relegated to only those stricken with the extreme misfortune of starvation and barbarians from centuries and eons past, you’re dead wrong. In a tweet, well-known evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins recently asked a bizarre question: “What if human meat is grown? Could we overcome our taboo against cannibalism?” The tweet also included a link to an article about lab-grown meat, also known as in vitro meat or clean meat.
Obviously, meat grown in a lab doesn’t require the death of an animal, only a few stem cells from a living specimen. The same process, of course, could be utilized to create human meat. So perhaps those of you who want to try cannibalism may someday be able to do so with the blessings of modern science. It is unlikely, however, that there would be much of a market for lab-grown human meat, although there would inevitably be some, such as performance artists, who would want to try it.
By donating a lot of money to hospitals and universities to have their names emblazoned on buildings, the wealthy can ensure that the public remembers them in a generous and shining light. But most of us don’t get to decide what our legacy will be after we’re gone.
Certain people are not remembered for their greatest accomplishments or their most infamous deeds. Rather, they are immortalized for other exploits which have become more memorable in the eyes of history for one reason or another.
English Vice Admiral Robert FitzRoy is primarily remembered today for serving as captain of the HMS Beagle during the iconic voyage of Charles Darwin. The two became friends even though the former was a devout man who thoroughly opposed Darwin’s profane ideas. He even came up with his own peculiar hypothesis to explain the disappearance of the dinosaurs. Quirky ideas aside, FitzRoy’s main claim to fame should be inventing the weather forecast.
In 1854, FitzRoy was appointed the head of a new meteorological department within the Board of Trade whose job was to collect weather data at sea. This would be the precursor to the Met Office, the UK’s modern national weather service.
The main goal of the department was to develop better wind charts to reduce sailing times, but FitzRoy became convinced that closer study allowed them to predict storms. He finally developed the first gale warning after the Royal Charter wrecked in 1859, causing the deaths of hundreds.
FitzRoy benefited from another recent invention, the electric telegraph. It allowed him to gather weather data from all over the coasts in real time and send out warnings when needed from his London office.
Since he was issuing storm warnings anyway, FitzRoy reasoned that he might as well send them to the newspapers, too. His first forecast was published in The Times on August 1, 1861.
Herbert Marx, better known by his stage name “Zeppo,” was part of the Marx Brothers, one of the most successful comedy acts of early Hollywood. Alongside Gummo, Zeppo is considered one of the “other brothers,” the ones who left the act early on to focus on other projects while Groucho, Harpo, and Chico formed the definitive incarnation of the Marx Brothers.
Herbert was mechanically inclined, so he started a company called Marman Products that manufactured various machines and components. He built a short-lived motorcycle called the Marman Twin which was in production between 1948 and 1949.
During World War II, his company manufactured multiple parts for the war effort, the most notable being the Marman clamp used to secure cargo. It held the atomic bomb aboard the Enola Gay and is still being used today, even on spacecraft.
Zeppo also invented a vapor delivery heating pad, but his most useful invention was a cardiac pulse rate monitor watch. It observed the wearer’s heart rate and alerted him about an irregular heartbeat.
Captain William Bligh is best known for provoking the most famous mutinyin history, that of the HMS Bounty. The story was popularized during the 20th century thanks to multiple films. They also solidified Bligh’s role as a tyrant while the mutiny leader, Fletcher Christian, always played the hero. More notable, however, was Bligh’s role in the Rum Rebellion, the only military coup in Australian history.
Bligh continued to have a successful career after losing the HMS Bounty and, in 1806, was appointed governor of New South Wales. At the time, a disproportionate amount of the state’s wealth and properties were under the control of the New South Wales Corps. Its officers owned a lot of businesses, represented the bulk of Sydney’s upper class, and dominated the legal system.
Furthermore, they were engaged in the private trading of goods such as rum, going against government regulation. Many historians believe a by-the-rules disciplinarian such as Bligh was purposely appointed governor in the hopes of being able to minimize their influence.
Unsurprisingly, Bligh frequently butted heads with Sydney’s entrepreneurs, especially John Macarthur. The former captain described Macarthur as the main agitator, but another prominent role was played by Major George Johnston, the commander of the New South Wales Corps.
Tensions between the two camps escalated until Bligh planned to charge several officers with treason. At that point, Johnston rallied his 400 men, went to the governor’s house, and deposed Bligh. His side argued that the governor abused his power and was not fit for duty. In the end, the British government sided with Bligh and declared the Rum Rebellion illegal.
Barbara Cartland was the British novelist known for the prodigious rate at which she churned out books about Victorian romance, averaging roughly one a month. She ended her career with 723 published novels. When she wasn’t busy writing, Cartland also took an active interest in aviation and helped develop the military glider.
The author became a fan of gliders during the 1920s. She once saw a show in Germany which involved aerotowing. (A small aircraft took the glider into the air using a tow rope and sent it on short trips.) Cartland liked this, but she thought it was pointless unless it could also be used for long-distance journeys.
In 1931, she enlisted the help of two RAF officers and built her own glider named The Barbara Cartland. She embarked on a 320-kilometer (200 mi) trip. As she was carrying a bag of letters aboard, she also flew the world’s first airmail glider.
The idea of using gliders on long trips appealed to the military, who believed they could be used for troop transport into combat zones. During World War II, the British, Germans, Soviets, and Americans all employed military gliders. Cartland was honored for her contributions with the Bishop Wright Air Industry Award in 1984.
Women’s rights advocate Amelia Bloomer is forever linked to the style of dress which she helped to popularize and which bears her name. However, her efforts for women’s suffrage extend beyond a fashion statement.
Arguably, her greatest accomplishment was publishing The Lily, the first newspaper in the United States edited by and for women. Initially, it focused exclusively on promoting temperance, but it gradually came to include other women’s matters as well. The inaugural issue appeared on January 1, 1849.
The Lily was quickly followed by other periodicals edited by women. This included The Revolution, a newspaper established by suffragists Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. They were introduced to one another by Bloomer.
She first wrote of the famous attire in an April 1851 issue of The Lily. The loose-fitting Turkish trousers combined with the skirt ending below the knee were far more practical and comfortable than the Victorian-style dresses which women were expected to wear. Interest in the new fashion was immediate. Adopters of the style became known as “Bloomerites,” while the pantaloons were called “bloomers.”
Bloomer actually only wore the fashion named after her for a few years before returning to the old style. She felt that people became too fixated on the dress, and it detracted attention from more important topics.
Merriam-Webster defines an “epicure” as one with sensitive and discriminating tastes, especially in food and wine. The word is based on Epicurus, the Greek philosopher who devised a new hedonistic philosophy called Epicureanism. At first, it seems like a fitting way to honor the ancient scholar, except that it goes against what Epicurus actually believed in.
Hedonism is a school of thought that argues that the pursuit of pleasure and intrinsic goods should be the main goals in life. Strictly speaking, Epicurus was a hedonist as he believed that pleasure was the greatest good. But his idea of pleasure was starkly different from modern epicures.
Epicurus had no interest in sumptuous feasts or expensive possessions. He believed that the highest state of happiness was achieved through a combination of ataraxia and aponia. The former means a state of tranquility free of fear and distress, while the latter refers to the absence of pain.
Epicurus advocated that happiness came from a reduction in desires. He specifically categorized luxury food as a natural but unnecessary desire. In other words, one shouldn’t spurn this extravagance if it happens to be available, but one should not seek it out. Doing so will lead to unhappiness by creating anxiety in anticipation of fulfilling the desire and pain when it becomes unfulfilled.
The name John Montagu probably won’t ring a bell with many people, but they might recognize him from his title, Earl of Sandwich. He is the man who gave the name to the most popular, versatile food in the world—the sandwich.
According to the story, Montagu was an avid gambler and wanted a food that he could eat without leaving the card table. His buddies soon started asking for “the same as Sandwich” which just became a sandwicheventually. According to a more complimentary version, Montagu was such a hard worker that he wanted something he could eat at his desk in his office.
The biggest position held by Montagu in his career was First Lord of the Admiralty. He had the post from 1748 to 1751, in 1763, and from 1771 to 1782. His final stint wasn’t considered particularly successful, especially due to his administration during the American Revolutionary War. He did do something worthwhile, though, and that was sponsoring the voyages of James Cook.
When Montagu was put in charge of the navy, Cook had just finished his first voyage to Australia. He was commissioned for another trip, and the Earl of Sandwich gave him the HMS Resolution, a sloop that Cook described as “the fittest for service of any I have seen.”
He used it on his next two voyages. In 1778, Cook became the first European to discover the Hawaiian Islands, which he initially named the Sandwich Islands in honor of his patron.
The story of Elisha Gray is fairly well-known. Both he and Alexander Graham Bell invented telephone prototypes around the same time, but Bell beat him to the patent office by a matter of hours. In another version, Bell actually stole the usage of liquid transmitters for his telephone design from Gray by illegally looking at his patent application.
The two went to court. Bell won, and Elisha Gray became one of the prominent examples of people getting screwed out of the history books. However, Gray’s story did not end there. He continued inventing and had around 70 patents by the time he died in 1901. He also founded the Western Electric Manufacturing Company, which lives on today as the Fortune 500 corporation Graybar.
As an inventor, Gray mostly kept working on improving the telegraph. One creation of note was the telautograph, which was a precursor to the fax machine. The receiving station had a pen attached to servos which could reproduce whatever the sender was writing at the other end. It could be used to transmit a signature, a letter, or even a drawing and quickly became popular in banks, hospitals, and railway stations.
Three-and-a-half-million people go to see the famed Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris every year. One of the most visited tombs is that of French journalist Victor Noir, who was gunned down by Prince Pierre-Napoleon Bonaparte in 1870. However, most tourists are only interested in one thing—rubbing the genitals of Victor Noir.
Here’s what happened.
Noir found himself embroiled in a feud between Prince Bonaparte and Henri Rochefort, the owner of the newspaper for which Noir worked. Eventually, the prince challenged Rochefort to a duel. Paschal Grousset, the paper’s editor, sent Noir and another man named Ulrich de Fonvielle as his seconds to set the terms of a duel between the prince and Grousset.
But the prince only wanted to duel with Rochefort, a fellow nobleman. An argument between Noir and the prince escalated into a fight, and Bonaparte gunned down Noir. Whether the prince or the journalist hit first is a matter of whose story you believe.
Noir’s death and Bonaparte’s subsequent acquittal enraged the populace at a time when the imperial family wasn’t too popular to begin with. Noir’s martyrdom gave revolutionaries the opportunity they needed to lead an uprising. Although the insurrection failed, the empire didn’t survive for long. The Franco-Prussian War led to the emergence of the Third Republic later that year.
After the establishment of the republic, Victor Noir’s remains were moved to Pere Lachaise Cemetery where sculptor Jules Dalou created a bronze statue for Noir’s grave. For some reason, Dalou gave Noir’s effigy a generous protuberance down his pants. It soon became a tradition for female visitors to kiss the sculpture on the lips and rub its genitals to improve the women’s sex lives.
In 1941, Time magazine called George Washington Carver the “Black Leonardo.” Although he was born into a slave family, Carver became one of the country’s leading experts on agriculture, even serving as adviser to multiple US presidents. Despite all this, he is remembered as the “peanut butter guy.”
This not only grossly trivializes his efforts, it’s not even accurate. Carver did develop hundreds of new uses for peanuts, but peanut butter wasn’t among them. The Aztecs made peanut paste centuries before him. Even in modern times, patents already existed for various methods of preparing the comestible.
Carver’s main contributions involved easing the plight of the American farmer. Cotton was the primary crop in the South, but it was a demanding crop with high nutrient needs. It often left the soil poor and, consequently, resulted in worse yields the following years.
Carver encouraged farmers to rotate their crops and alternate cotton with soil-enriching plants, which was cheaper and more effective than fertilization. He tested the soil to see what would grow best in the region and primarily recommended peanuts and sweet potatoes.
Of course, this posed a new problem: What would the farmers do with all those peanuts and sweet potatoes as they weren’t widely consumed? Carver started developing hundreds of new uses for “undesirable” crops and turned the peanut into one of the nation’s leading crops.
We have depended on dogs to protect us for millennia. But judging from recent developments, it seems like they are not the only animals capable of protecting us.
Other animals have proven to be better than or on a par with dogs in providing security. Sometimes, these critters are trained to become guards, and at other times, especially in the instances of wild animals, they just happen to be natural deterrents.
Geese are very good guard animals. They have better eyesight—both near and far—than we do. This allows them to pick out strange movements, no matter how small. They are also territorial and will make loud noises to frighten off intruders that venture into their space.
Unlike dogs, geese are difficult to bribe. Give them a treat, and geese will make very loud noises in excitement. While it could be their little way of showing appreciation, it is enough to alert their owners to the presence of an intruder.
Farmers use geese to guard their free-range chickens. Some remote police stations in China are also abandoning their guard dogs for geese. In one notable incident, a man was caught sneaking into a police station to retrieve a motorbike seized by the cops. The geese made loud noises, notifying the cops of his presence. The man was promptly arrested.
The donkey is often considered to be a slow, gentle, and dull animal. This could create a false impression for an intruder who does not realize that donkeys can be very aggressive and territorial. They are naturally hostile toward dogs, foxes, coyotes, and bobcats—which makes donkeys excellent guards for livestock.
When threatened, a donkey will bray loudly and launch aggressive attacks with its teeth and hooves toward every part of the enemy’s body. A charging guard donkey is very dangerous, even to its owners. Farmers using guard donkeys are advised not to approach the animal while it’s charging or immediately afterward. It needs to calm before an approach can be initiated.
Single castrated donkeys or female donkeys with foals make the best guards. The foal could even grow up to become a guard donkey itself. However, not all donkeys are good guards. Some will ignore wild animals, while others will strike back only when they are attacked.
The most cowardly of donkeys will flee the moment they detect a threat. Sometimes, they even become a threat to the same animals that they are supposed to protect. Some donkeys will refuse to guard livestock, preferring to mind their own business.
Drug dealers are known to use aggressive animals to protect their stash from criminals. Pit bulls used to be the animals of choice, but several drug dealers seem to be switching to alligators. Police departments across the US have been finding alligators guarding the homes of these criminals.
Drug dealers also keep alligators as status symbols or to just intimidate others. Obviously, no one will want to mess with the dude with an alligator. In Maryland, police recovered a 0.9-meter-long (3 ft) guard alligator from the home of drug dealer Michael Golden during a marijuana bust.
Golden did not have anything positive to say about the alligators, except that they had not been stealing his stash of marijuana. He said that the animals were crazy, unwise, and unable to be trained. The only time the creature listened to him was when he had some food in his hand. Obviously, the alligators are also threats to the drug dealers themselves.
Llamas are excellent livestock guards. They are very effective against dogs and foxes, although they might not provide the perfect deterrent against humans. This does not mean that llamas will leave a random human to approach their livestock. They have been known to become irritated at the presence of strangers and will make a lot of noise and stamp their feet, which is enough to attract the attention of the farmers and deter the intruders.
Llamas also chase humans around their farms. While they might not cause injuries to humans, these animals have been observed chasing and killing foxes. Llamas make excellent livestock guards because of their suspicious and territorial nature. They are naturally suspicious of carnivores like dogs and wolves and will quickly attack when they get the opportunity.
Some livestock will also bond with llamas better than they do with dogs. Llamas may become so attached to the livestock that they will display aggressive behavior toward the pets or families of their owners. In these instances, farmers will need to separate the llama from the herd before the farmers can do anything to the herd.
Small groups of female llamas make the best guards. Small groups of castrated male llamas used to be the go-to animals, but they were usually more concerned with fighting over female livestock and territory. When these llamas bonded, they were more interested in moving around together, leaving the livestock unsupervised.
Uncastrated male llamas are worse. They are usually more interested in attempting to breed with the animals they are supposed to be watching. This sometimes leads to the injuries or deaths of the guarded animals because the llamas are bigger.
Female llamas do not behave this way. They bond and keep watch together. Nevertheless, the gender of a llama does not guarantee that it will be a good guard. Some will flee at the sight of danger, leaving the livestock defenseless.
Residents of some villages in Kazakhstan are using domesticated wolves to protect themselves and their properties from wild wolves. The villagers are buying the wolf cubs for around $500 and breeding them into adulthood. The villages have been experiencing a rise in wolf attacks, and the government is not doing anything about it.
The guard wolves are treated like dogs. Some are even allowed to freely roam around the properties of their owners. One person said that wolves are calm animals and will never attack their owners as long as they are fed. However, some experts are skeptical about keeping wolves at home. They say that all wolves are wild animals and could misbehave at any time.
In 2003, an Israeli organization called the Hebrew Battalion revealed its plan to train pigs as guard animals. The pigs would have been used to protect Jewish areas in the volatile West Bank. Hebrew Battalion stated that pigshad a better sense of smell than dogs, making the swine useful in detecting weapons and bombs.
The plan raised some eyebrows in Israel where pig farming is banned. Jews consider pigs to be unclean animals. Considering these religious views, Hebrew Battalion needed to seek approval from rabbis before the program could kick off. The rabbis gave their approval. However, there are no news reports indicating that the Hebrew Battalion trained any pigs.
Dolphins also make good guard animals, although their use has been limited to the military. Under the US Navy Marine Mammal Program, the US military trains dolphins to guard ships, seaside installations, or other areas of interest. The dolphins run regular patrols around these areas.
Once a dolphin spots an enemy or detects a mine, the animal returns to its trainer’s boat to get a transponder that the dolphin then attaches to the person or mine. Thereafter, military officers are dispatched to retrieve the enemy diver or disable the mine.
There are unverified claims that the US Navy arms its dolphins with compressed gas needles, giving them the ability to kill enemy divers. The navy says that these claims are untrue. Nevertheless, it is possible that the CIA trained dolphins to plant bombs on enemy ships.
Between 1970 and 1971 during the Vietnam War, dolphins were used to guard an ammunition depot at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam. In 1987, they protected the US naval fleet in Bahrain during the Iran-Iraq War.
During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, dolphins were used to clear enemy mines around US ships. In 2012, they were deployed around the Strait of Hormuz to find mines dropped by the Iranian military. In the US, dolphins are on permanent deployment at Naval Base Kitsap, Washington, which contains nuclear weapons.
Sea lions are another marine mammal trained under the US Navy Marine Mammal Program. Like dolphins, sea lions are smart and relatively easy to train. Unlike dolphins, sea lions do not have sonar that allows them to use echolocation to detect underwater mines. But they make up for that with their superb eyesight. They are also amphibious, with the ability to switch between land and water.
The US Navy uses sea lions to guard military ships and installations, detect enemy divers and underwater mines, and recover items underwater. One of their most important roles is the recovery of unarmed mines used during training.
The sea lion goes underwater, holding a clamp in its mouth while searching for the training mine. Once it finds the mine, the animal attaches the clamp to the mine and let its handlers on the boat drag the mine up. Sea lions can also attach these clamps to the legs of enemy divers.
In 2015, Budi Waseso, the head of Indonesia’s antidrug campaign revealed that his country was planning to build an island prison that would be guarded by crocodiles. The prison would hold drug convicts on death row. Waseso said they settled for crocodiles because they could not be bribed like humans. To ensure that the crocodiles were effective, he promised to get the biggest ones available.
Indonesia’s antidrug campaign has often been sabotaged by corrupt prisonofficials who take money to allow drug convicts to escape. Sometimes, the guards even help the convicts smuggle their drugs. It is common for prison guards to be busted for drug crimes and even be imprisoned.
After being mocked over his plans to use crocodiles as prison guards, Waseso later revealed plans to use tigers and piranhas in the prison in case of a staff shortage. Let’s not forget, the staff members in question are the crocodiles. Slamet Pribadi, the spokesman for Indonesia’s antidrug agency, confirmed the plans to build a prison guarded by wild animals. He clarified that it was not a joke.
People in South Africa are increasingly using snakes to guard their homes and businesses against criminals and gangs. Snakes of choice include brown house snakes, California kingsnakes, pythons, and boa constrictors.
Some businesses have up to six snakes guarding their properties. The co-owner of one business chased three thieves away after charging toward them holding a python. Some homes and businesses that do not keep snakes have “Beware of Snake” signs hanging somewhere. Others believe erroneously that snakes are better guards than dogs because snakes do not sleep.
This misconception probably arose because snakes do not have eyelids and leave their eyes open while sleeping. Nevertheless, it is not advisable to approach a still snake because it is impossible to know whether it is sleeping or just relaxing.
In 2007, luxury department store Harrods hired a live cobra to protect some expensive shoes during a launch ceremony. One pair of shoes cost $152,000 and contained rubies, sapphires, and diamonds.
Whether the snake was really hired to guard the shoes or was just a ploy to make the news was unclear. But a venomous cobra guarding a pair of shoes should be a deterrent for a would-be thief, whether it was really meant that way or not.