Sunday, May 5, 2019

WEIRD, WEIRD WORLD


GIANT TARANTULA HAULS AWAY OPOSSUM!
NOTE: VIDEO REMOVED BECAUSE OF SLOW LOADING VIDEO LINK.

WHEN WILD TURKEYS ATTACK!
NOTE: VIDEO REMOVED BECAUSE OF SLOW LOADING VIDEO LINK.

CHURCH BURNS, BIBLES AND CROSSES INSIDE DON'T


Firefighters in West Virginia surveying the damage from an inferno that had gutted a church over the weekend were astounded when they discovered that a bevy of Bibles and crosses had somehow survived the conflagration unscathed. The remarkable find was reportedly made early Sunday morning after the Coal City Fire Department helped to battle a blaze that had engulfed the Freedom Ministries Church in the community of Greenview.

Upon entering the building, the team of rescue workers was stunned to see that every Bible inside the church had apparently made it through the harrowing ordeal undamaged. Posting pictures of the amazing sight to Facebook, the department noted that the fire had, at one point, been so hot that they were actually forced to pull personnel from the building for their safety. The temperatures were so extreme, they explained, that everything inside should have been reduced to ashes.

However, they marveled "not a single Bible was burned" and also revealed that none of the crosses inside the church fell victim to the blaze either. While skeptical observers may offer a prosaic explanation for the odd nature in which the objects survived the fire, but one can't help but notice that the case in West Virginia is merely the latest in a series of eerily similar events involving religious items surviving massive infernos, including a painting of Jesus at a Massachusetts church, a trio of icons in Serbia, and a number of statues which were found intact after wildfires swept through Tennessee.

[SOURCE: COAST 2 COAST AM.]

TALKING GARGOYLE AT DENVER INTL AIRPORT!

As part of an ongoing celebration of its place in conspiracy theory lore, the Denver International Airport has created an animatronic gargoyle that talks to travelers. The facility has long been the subject of rumors and innuendo suggesting that it housed a secret underground hub for all manner of sinister forces, such as the Illuminati or Reptilian aliens. These tales were largely relegated to the realm of urban legend and fringe researchers until the airport decided to embrace their odd reputation back in 2016 with a temporary art installation about conspiracies connected to the location.

The airport subsequently doubled down on the idea last year when they launched a conspiracy-themed ad campaign about renovations at the site. And, now, they've taken it a step further by replacing their iconic gargoyle statues, which are often cited as a 'clue' that the location has occult underpinnings, with a robotic replica that chats up unsuspecting people nearby.

In an amusing video released by the airport showcasing their new attraction, the "243-year-old" faux statue can be seen surprising travelers as it suddenly comes to life and begins cracking jokes about conspiracy theories or roasting passengers. While those who believe that the facility really does house some kind of clandestine base for nefarious forces may argue that the gargoyle is merely an attempt at discrediting the idea, anything that makes the tediousness of airport travel a little more tolerable is alright by us.



[SOURCE: COAST 2 COAST AM.]

INSECT ARMAGEDDON!

A troubling new study warns that the world's insect population is rapidly declining and the entire planet could be in peril as a result. The worrisome research project reportedly found that the total number of bugs across the globe is dropping by around 2.5% each year. While this may not initially sound like a significant amount, scientists behind the project, which examined a whopping 73 different papers on the topic, say that insect species are going extinct at a rate eight times faster than their more sizeable counterparts like mammals and birds.

This turn of events is particularly concerning because insects are a critical component of the planet's ecosystem since they not only provide food for a vast number of animals, but also serve as pollinators for vegetation. As such, the researchers who put together the new study cautioned that the widespread extinction of these creatures would be "catastrophic to say the least" as it would have a cascading effect in which even more animals would be threatened due to the loss of sustenance and, ultimately, the human population would be profoundly impacted as well.

The scientists pointed to two culprits behind the drop in the insect population: industrial agriculture which uses powerful pesticides and rising temperatures due to climate change. While combating the latter factor has proven to be a difficult task to date, researchers say that a reexamination of how we produce food is necessary in order to try and slow down the decline before it's too late. Despite the paper's strong stance that the world is in profound danger due to the dropping number of insects, it remains to be seen if anything will be done about it as 'save the bugs' may prove to be a tough sell for some squeamish people.

[SOURCE: COAST 2 COAST AM.]

UNTOUCHED 1000-YEAR OLD MAYAN CAVE OF RITUAL OBJECTS DISCOVERED!

Maya ritual cave ‘untouched’ for 1,000 years stuns archaeologists
Exploration of Balamku (Cave of the Jaguar God) reveals ancient religious practices—and may hold clues to the rise and fall of the Maya empire.
BY GENA STEFFENS
PUBLISHED MARCH 4, 2019


Archaeologists hunting for a sacred well beneath the ancient Maya city of Chichén Itzá on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula have accidentally discovered a trove of more than 150 ritual objects—untouched for more than a thousand years—in a series of cave chambers that may hold clues to the rise and fall of the ancient Maya. The discovery of the cave system, known as Balamku or “Jaguar God,” was announced by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in a press conference held today in Mexico City.

After its initial discovery by farmers in 1966, Balamku was visited by archaeologist Víctor Segovia Pinto, who wrote up a report noting the presence of an extensive amount of archaeological material. But instead of excavating the site, Segovia then directed the farmers to seal up the entrance, and all records of the discovery of the cave seemed to vanish.

Balamku remained sealed for more than 50 years, until it was reopened in 2018 by National Geographic Explorer Guillermo de Anda and his team of investigators from the Great Maya Aquifer Project during their search for the water table beneath Chichén Itzá. Exploration of the system was funded in part by a grant from the National Geographic Society.

De Anda recalls pulling himself on his stomach through the tight tunnels of Balamku for hours before his headlamp illuminated something entirely unexpected: A cascade of offerings left by the ancient residents of Chichén Itzá, so perfectly preserved and untouched that stalagmites had formed around the incense burners, vases, decorated plates, and other objects in the cavern.

“I couldn’t speak, I started to cry. I’ve analyzed human remains in [Chichén Itzá’s] Sacred Cenote, but nothing compares to the sensation I had entering, alone, for the first time in that cave,” says de Anda, who is an investigator with INAH and director of the Great Maya Aquifer Project, which seeks to explore, understand, and protect the aquifer of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

An unprecedented second chance
To access just the first of seven ritual offering chambers identified so far within Balamku, archaeologists must crawl flat on their stomachs through hundreds of feet of tortuously narrow passages. In the original report on the cave (recently located by archaeologist and GAM investigator James Brady of California State University, Los Angeles), Segovia identified 155 artifacts, some with faces of Toltec rain god Tláloc, and others with markings of the sacred ceiba tree, a potent representation of the Maya universe. In comparison, the nearby cave of Balankanché, a ritual site excavated in 1959, contains just 70 of these objects.

“Balamku appears to be the ‘mother’ of Balankanché,” says de Anda. “I don’t want to say that quantity is more important than information, but when you see that there are many, many offerings in a cave that is also much more difficult to access, this tells us something.”

Why Segovia would decide to seal up such a phenomenal discovery is still a matter of debate. But in doing so, he inadvertently provided researchers with an unprecedented “second chance” to answer some of the most perplexing questions that continue to stir controversy among Mayanists today, such as such as the level of contact and influence exchanged between different Mesoamerican cultures, and what was going on in the Maya world prior to the fall of Chichén Itzá.

Entrances to the Underworld
“For the ancient Maya, caves and cenotes [sinkoles] were considered openings to the underworld,” says Holley Moyes, a University of California, Merced expert on the archaeology and religious use of Maya caves who was not a part of the project. “They represent some of the most sacred spaces for the Maya, ones that also influenced site planning and social organization. They are fundamental, hugely important, to the Maya experience.”

But until the concept of cave archaeology began to take shape in the 1980s, archaeologists were more interested in monumental architecture and intact artifacts than they were in analyzing the residues and materials found in and around objects. When Balankanché was excavated in 1959, caves were still mapped by hand in the dark and artifacts were routinely removed from their sites, cleaned, and later put back. Of all the incense burners found in Balankanché that were filled with material that could have provided definitive evidence related to the chronology of the site, for instance, only one was ever analyzed.

Investigators of the Great Maya Aquifer Project see the (re)discovery of Balamku as a chance to implement a totally new model of cave archaeology, one that employs cutting-edge technology and specialized fields such as 3-D mapping and paleobotany. These new insights could give us a much more detailed idea of what was actually occurring in Maya cave rituals, as well as the history of the great city of Chichén Itzá, which declined for unknown reasons in the 13th century.

“Balamku can tell us not only the moment of collapse of Chichén Itzá,” says de Anda. “It can also probably tell us the moment of its beginning. Now, we have a sealed context, with a great quantity of information, including useable organic matter, that we can use to understand the development of Chichén Itzá.”

Further study of the site will also shed light on the intimate details of the catastrophic droughts that likely provoked the collapse of the Maya civilization. While this area has always been prone to drastic cycles of climate variability, some researchers have suggested that excessive deforestation in the Maya lowlands, which was once home to some 10-15 million people, could have exacerbated the problem and made the entire region uninhabitable.

Understanding these past cycles can have an added benefit for modern life as well, says National Geographic archaeologist-in-residence Fredrik Hiebert. “By studying these caves and cenotes, it’s possible to learn some lessons for how to best use the environment today, in terms of sustainability for the future.”

In this sense, de Anda believes archaeology has the potential to become a much more “useful” science.

“It’s always been considered the opposite—a beautiful and interesting field of science, but without a great deal of utility,” he says. “I think that here, we will be able to demonstrate the contrary, because when we begin to understand these marvelous contexts, we can understand the footprints of humankind’s past, and what was happening on Earth during one of the most dramatic moments in history.”

[SOURCE: michaelsavage.com.]

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