Mike The Headless Chicken

By Anupum Pant

Mike, a Wyandotte rooster, born in the month of April (year 1945), was an average male chicken living an average chicken life at some barnyard in Fruita, Colorado. On September 10th 1945 this changed. The rooster was no longer a normal male chicken of some random barnyard. It was making news.

The second world war had ended and families no longer were required to cut down their consumption of meat. So, a farmer’s wife, Clara Olsen decided to treat her family with a nice meal after the numerous sacrifices made in the second world war. She asked her husband, Lloyd A. Olsen to chase down mike and kill Mike for the night’s meal.

Lloyd did exactly that. He took aim and cut off Mike’s head. Normally, like all the chickens make erratic movements after getting cut, Mike with no head on his body started running, spewing blood around too.

Unlike all the chickens who spurt out blood and no longer have enough of it to remain alive, Mike’s bleeding stopped after a while and he stood up. Now Mike was a headless chicken moving around the barnyard. With no eyes, or even a head for that matter, mike started walking around and running into objects.

Mike the headless chicken feedingSoon, Mike adapted to this situation and started living a normal life. Except, he was a chicken without a head. Mike went on to live for 18 months, sustaining on food and liquids that were dropped using a dropper into the hole in his neck. Mike sure had the will to live.

Mike was a celebrity now. Life magazine published a piece on him. People from all over the country came around, just to have a look at a live headless animal walking around like nothing had happened.

Mike, Mike, where is your head.
Even without it, you are not dead!

Was the song little girls then started singing while playing around at school

Confused, the farmer took Mike to the University of Utah to get him checked by researchers. It was found that the brain stem at the top of his neck didn’t get cut. He still had the part which controlled his motor functions, and that was, more or less, enough for a chicken to lead a headless life. Basically, just enough to move around and continue normal body functions – like to digest food and respond to stimuli.

Even today, Mike has a festival named after him –  Mike The Headless Chicken Festival – which is Fruita’s highlight during the year.

via [RoadsideAmerica]

 

 

This Green Slime Like Thing is a 3000 Year Old Plant

By Anupum Pant

It looks like moss, but it isn’t. Nor is it slimy.

This gooey or slimy looking thing is actually a plant which grows in Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Peru, up in the Andes at altitudes between ten to fifteen thousand feet. Believe it or not, some of these plants are more than 3000 years old. Yes, they are one of the oldest living organisms on the planet earth – older than the golden age of Greece.

Even though the plant looks slimy goo-like from a distance, when you go closer, it is actually solid and dry to the touch. The surface of the plant consists of densely packed tens of thousands of tiny buds and flowers which make the surface feel like a pillow. That is the reason it is also  known as the Andes Pillow. In fact the surface is so stiff that a person can lie on it and the plant won’t get crushed.

It is sort of a cousin to parsley and carrots. And it is interesting to note that the plant smells like mint. Locals often boil it in water and use it to cure muscle pain.

Llareta grows extremely slowly. It grows about 1.5 cm every year. The ones which are about 2.5 to 3 meters in size can be said to have grown for hundreds of years to reach that size.

Since Llareta is dense and dry, it burns like wood, and has been known to be used by the climbers/hikers to make fire. Some say that it was also used in steam engines instead of coal. This careless burning of the extremely slow-growing living museum has endangered their long-term survival.

via [RadioLab]

Wood Frog Dies and Comes Back to Life

By Anupum Pant

Ice Kills

Everybody knows what extremely low temperatures can do to our body. If you aren’t well protected from the cold, unable to retain the heat, the core temperature of your body may drop below 35 degree C and can cause some serious problems, even death.

At even lower temperatures, ice crystals can form in the tissues and puncture blood vessels. Ice crystals may even squeeze, deform and break cells. Otherwise it can leave behind shrunken and destroyed cells by sucking out water from them to form ice. Probably leaving you with a permanently damaged body part.

Due to ice formation inside the cells, this disastrous structural damage that is caused in human bodies, or most other organisms is unavoidable. We were not built to endure horrendous cold. But there are a few organisms who are built to live, or if I may say, die and then live again in extremely cold temperatures.

Meet the Wood Frog

Wood frog, a small variety of frog found in north america is one such creature. You ask what’s so interesting about them?

It is probably one of the most freeze tolerant beings. In other words, extracellular freeze tolerance and intracellular freeze avoidance enables the frog to do what it does.

Well, when it is really cold out there in the Arctic circle or the upper parts of America, they can freeze themselves for weeks, even for months. It does this by first finding out if it is really cold out there. When it touches the first bits of winter snow, a signal sets off in its body and the signal starts the blood freeing process.

All the water is pulled away from the core of its organs and the water gets frozen. Putting all the organs in a shell of solid ice. The whole frog becomes hard as a rock and sits there like that for weeks. Till it sees the spring time.

The most amazing part is that, during this time, the frog doesn’t breathe, its heart stops beating and even kidneys stop functioning. In medical terms it could be called dead. In reality, it is only temporarily dead.

Just like a dead man – without a hear beat – walking.

And then spring comes. It thaws itself out without any cellular injury and starts jumping again. It dies in winter and comes back to life in the next season.

This is probably how carbonite from Star Wars works.

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