Tall Tales

Weight-loss gadget compared to ‘medieval torture device’

And other stories from the stranger side of life

A weight-loss gadget that uses magnets to stop a person’s jaw from opening wide enough to eat solid foods has been developed by researchers from the United Kingdom and New Zealand. It uses magnetic devices with custom-manufactured locking bolts that can be fitted to the upper and lower back teeth. A critic compared it to a “medieval torture device”.

First victim of Black Death identified

Researchers believe they have identified “patient zero” in the plague that caused the Black Death. New evidence shows that a man who died more than 5,000 years ago in Latvia was infected with the earliest-known strain of the disease that hit Europe in the 1300s. “Up to now this is the oldest-identified plague victim we have”, Dr Ben Krause-Kyora of the University of Kiel in Germany said of the 5,300-year-old remains.

‘Extinct’ mouse re-emerges in Australia

A mouse that was believed to have become extinct more than 150 years ago has been found alive on an island off the coast of Australia. Scientists compared DNA samples from eight extinct Australian rodents and 42 of their living relatives, discovering that the extinct Gould’s mouse was “indistinguishable” from the Shark Bay mouse. “The resurrection of this species brings good news in the face of the disproportionally high rate of native rodent extinction”, an evolutionary biologist said.

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