Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, May 16th - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, May 16th

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WASHINGTON (AP) — For some lizards it’s easy being green. It’s in their blood. Six species of lizards in New Guinea bleed lime green thanks to evolution gone weird.
It’s unusual, but there are critters that bleed different colors of the rainbow besides red. The New Guinea lizards’ blood — along with their tongues, muscles and bones — appear green because of incredibly large doses of a green bile pigment. The bile levels are higher than other animals, including people, could survive.
Scientists still don’t know why this happened, but evolution is providing some hints into this nearly 50-year mystery.
By mapping the evolutionary family tree of New Guinea lizards, researchers found that green blood developed inside the amphibians at four independent points in history, likely from a red-blooded ancestor, according to a study in Wednesday’s journal Science Advances.
This isn’t a random accident of nature but suggests this trait of green blood gives the lizards an evolutionary advantage of some kind, said Christopher Austin of Louisiana State University.
“Evolution can do amazing things given enough time,” Austin said. “The natural world is a fascinating place.”
Austin first thought that maybe being green and full of bile would make New Guinea lizards taste bad to potential predators.
“I actually ate several lizards myself and they didn’t taste bad,” Austin said. He also fed plenty of them to a paradise kingfisher bird with no ill effects except maybe a fatter bird.
Understanding bile is probably key. Blood cells don’t last forever. After they break down, the iron is recycled for new red blood cells, but toxins are also produced, which is essentially bile.
In the New Guinea lizards, levels of a green bile pigment are 40 times higher than what would be toxic in humans. It’s green enough to overwhelm the color of the red blood cells and turn everything green, Austin said.
In people, elevated green bile pigment levels sometimes kill malaria parasites. Austin thinks that might be why lizards evolved to be green-blooded because malaria is an issue for New Guinea and lizards. It might be the result of evolution trying to kill the malaria parasite in lizards or it might be past lizards were infected so heavily that this was the body’s reaction, he said.
The next step is to search for the specific genes involved.
Michael Oellermann, a researcher at the University of Tasmania in Australia, praised Austin’s work and wondered if there is an evolutionary cost to having green blood.
Otherwise more critters would bleed green or another color, he said.
Many insects, spiders and molluscs have the copper-containing blood pigment that’s clear unless it attaches to oxygen and then it turns blue. Squids and octopuses have intense blue blood. Icefish in Antarctica have clear blood, while little crustaceans from Lake Baikal in Siberia have blood that’s blue or red or green.
Marine worms called lamp shells have violet to pink blood, according to the American Chemical Society.
“Biology is incredibly diverse,” Austin said.

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DALLAS (AP) — Police say a 25-year-old man duped two Dallas high schools for nine months by posing as a 17-year-old student and Hurricane Harvey evacuee in order to play basketball.
Court records show Sidney Bouvier Gilstrap-Portley faces a charge of tampering with government records. He was arrested Friday.
Dallas school district officials say he first enrolled at Skyline High School and later moved to Hillcrest High School, where he joined the basketball team.
District spokeswoman Robyn Harris says the man took advantage of schools opening their doors to students displaced by the hurricane. She says district officials believe Gilstrap-Portley's primary motivation was to play basketball.
Superintendent Michael Hinojosa apologized to parents. He says the district will work to prevent similar situations in the future.
An attorney wasn't listed for Gilstrap-Portley in online case records as of Wednesday.
 
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NEW YORK (AP) — A couple of urban island-dwellers have found buried treasure in their backyard — but so far the pirates are nowhere in sight.
WCBS says a safe containing about $52,000 worth of property — including diamonds, gold, jade and soaking wet cash — has been uncovered on Staten Island.
Matthew and Maria Colonna Emanuel always thought the rusting hulk of metal jutting out beneath some trees was just a cable box.
They were having some trees replaced when the mystery unfolded. The safe also held a paper with an address.
Matthew Emanuel knocked on their neighbor's door and asked if they'd ever been burglarized.
Bingo. The police report dates to 2011.
Maria Colonna Emanuel says there was never a question about returning the loot.
She says simply: "It wasn't ours."

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Michigan deputies responded to a semi-truck crash on a local interstate late Monday. When they arrived, they learned the truck was hauling a rather unusual shipment to New York: Bengal tigers.
The Bay County Sheriff's deputies were aware the truck was hauling animals, but they were not informed of what kind prior to arriving at the crash site, Michigan Live reported.
The semi-truck "hydroplaned and its driver lost control of the rig, causing it to leave the roadway, enter a grassy median and jackknife," Sheriff Troy R. Cunningham told the news site. The tigers were not injured in the crash, nor was the driver.
The tigers, each weighing roughly 600 pounds, are owned by a circus company, though it's not currently clear which one.
The Bengal tigers, which are endangered, according to the World Wildlife Fund, were held at a local towing company overnight as authorities worked to clear the crash site. 

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Authorities in Wisconsin have commended a high school prank which involved a supposed car accident. 
Cumberland police posted images on Facebook Monday, which seemed to show a car "smashing" into Cumberland High School. 
"Hats off to the Cumberland High School Class of 2018 on your senior prank," authorities wrote. "Congratulation Class of 2018 on one of best senior pranks that Cumberland High School has seen."
School property wasn't damaged by the stunt -- which was pulled off with black tarp, bricks, a junk car and tape.
"Students positioned an old junker strewn with loose bricks in front of what appeared to be a gaping black hole in the building's side, just outside the principal's office," the Cumberland School District said. "It wasn't actually a hole, though. Using tape and a black tarp, the students created the illusion of damage, making it look like the car crashed into the side of the building."
The police department's Facebook post has been shared more than 1,700 times as of Tuesday night.
In the comments section, a few people praised the police for their take on the situation.
"Hats off to Cumberland PD for having a sense of humor! People are too serious these days . Great prank! Sometimes things are just funny! Laugh people!" one person said.
"So creative! Great job at pulling off an artistic and safe senior prank! Way to go Cumberland P.D. for being supportive!!!" another commenter echoed.
A different person thanked the department "for supporting our CHS Seniors in their prank! The students worked hard to keep it clean, safe and fun!"
"This is will be hard to beat." authorities replied.

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Call it a wild surprise!
Police in Illinois shared a snap of a "puppy" on social media -- as well as its true identity. 
"This cute puppy was brought to the PD after a concerned resident found it alone on the side of a busy road," Bartlett police wrote in a Thursday tweet. "Actually, the puppy turned out to be a coyote!"
Authorities added that the canine "was quite the attraction at the PD before he was brought to our friends at Willowbrook Wildlife."
The girl coyote pup was dehydrated, NBC Chicago reported Friday. 
"If she progresses nicely and we don't find any other issues over the week, we will most likely transfer her to another rehabber who has young pups close to her size," the wildlife center in Glen Ellyn told the news outlet.
An immediate comment from Willowbrook Wildlife Center wasn't available. 

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May 16 (UPI) -- Animal rescuers in New York said they are trying to find a home for a 2-year-old potbelly pig found roaming the streets of the city.
Animal Care Centers of New York said the Vietnamese potbelly pig, which they dubbed Kalamazoo, was spotted wandering Tuesday in the Bronx and the friendly animal was caught by a pair of passers-by.
The two men were able to get Kalamazoo into a crate and they turned the roaming swine over to police, who took him to an Animal Care Centers of New York facility.
The center said the origins of the pig are unclear, but they are now trying to find a farm with space for the 60-pound pig, believed to be about 2 years old.
The shelter said witnesses indicated there might still be a second pig wandering loose in the area.

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May 16 (UPI) -- Animal rescuers responded to a home in London where residents had called to report a squirrel that had somehow gotten stuck in their toilet.
The RSPCA said Animal Collection Officer Kirstie Gillard responded Sunday to a home in the Southwark neighborhood where the resident students had found the squirrel clogging the drain of their commode.
Gillard lowered a mop handle into the toilet bowl and the squirrel was able to grab hold and be lifted out.
"Fortunately the squirrel wasn't injured at all and I could release him back into the wild where he belongs," Gillard said. "I think he must have come into this house through the roof and slipped into the toilet."
Gillard said it was a unique call.
"It was certainly one of the most unusual rescues I've ever carried out -- I did rescue a bat stuck in the plughole of a sink last year but I think this one takes the crown!" she said. "I'm sure it's one the squirrel 'walnut' forget in a hurry."

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May 16 (UPI) -- A delivery truck's door came open on a North Carolina highway, causing the vehicle to dump a huge amount of cookie dough onto the roadway.
Pender EMS & Fire, Inc., posted a photo to Facebook showing the sticky mess that resulted from the truck losing its load of cookie dough Tuesday on Highway 17 in Pender County.
Emergency officials said the truck was stopped at a light at the highway's intersection with Sidbury Road in Wilmington and the rear door came open when it started to move again.
About 20 large rolling carts filled with cookie dough fell out of the vehicle and several overturned, covering the road in dough.
No injuries were reported from the spill.

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May 16 (UPI) -- A Texas woman is praising a police officer who spent hours on a beach to find and return her lost engagement ring.
Jessica Haelen said she left the Galveston beach on Saturday and was eating at a restaurant when she realized her engagement ring was missing.
Haelen returned to the location after dark and set about trying to locate the lost item.
Galveston Police Officer Derrick Jaradi spotted her wandering on the beach and offered his assistance with the search, explaining he had actually just gotten engaged earlier that same day.
Jaradi used a metal detector and the pair searched together for hours before giving up for the night.
Haelen said she received a message from Jaradi about 4:30 a.m. saying he had found the ring. The officer said he had been called out to investigate a party at the same beach and had decided to take one last look for the ring while he was there.

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