In Britain, lions, snow leopards, and tigers were playing with discarded Christmas trees, Danish scurvy grass was growing in salty verges, titpox was hitting great tits hardest (the red squirrels of Jersey, meanwhile, suffered no squirrelpox), heavy rains were washing Scottish hedgehogs from their nests, a flock of sheep adopted a young deer at Dunwich Heath, two dragons hatched in Cambridgeshire, and two men were charged with hare coursing in Lincolnshire, where the feet and heads of swans were being found without their bodies. “It is quite clear,” said a local police constable, “that something is not quite right.” In Australia, an arsonist attacked two ghost gums, a Welshman wrestled a dusky whaler shark, and a scrub python climbed aboard the wing of a plane bound for Papua New Guinea but died before reaching its destination. In Nepal, where protesters demanded the execution of a rogue elephant, the government committed to a tiger cap. A pack of stray dogs in India frightened several blackbucks to death. Vietnamese officials allowed a sanctuary for retired bile bears to remain operational in spite of public-health concerns. Flooding in South Africa allowed the escape of 15,000 farm crocodiles. “There used to be only a few crocodiles in the Limpopo River,” said the farm manager. “Now there are a lot.” The Barbary macaques of Gibraltar were biting people for want of chocolate. Bored mink snack between meals and lie awake in bed. Californians were petitioning the White House to end the state’s largely unenforced ban on ferrets. “It’s hard to get in trouble with a ferret,” said an activist. Dolphins on the Gulf Coast were washing up with tails hacked off and wounds from screwdrivers and 9mm bullets. A dead hummingbird was reported to have been found in the pocket of a dead man in the Sonoran Desert.
In Canada, children were found to start lying by the age of two, more garbage per capita was being produced than anywhere else in the world, gonorrhea defeated cefixime, and new 20-, 50-, and 100-dollar notes were found to feature the leaf of the invasive Norway maple rather than that of the native sugar maple. Shortened penises were among the complaints of radical prostatectomy patients, according to a study of men in the COMPARE registry. Biologists debuted RePOOPulate to replace human fecal transplants. The breast milk of fatter mothers contains fewer species of bacteria, as does that of mothers whose caesarean sections are planned. Allosuckling was found to broaden the antibody profile of newborn Mongolian gerbils. The Fraunhofer-Institut für Zuverlässigkeit und Mikrointegration unveiled a onesie to prevent crib death. Dutch doctors successfully reduced the use of morphine during surgery on infants. China’s One Child Policy was producing adults who are less competitive, conscientious, trusting, and trustworthy, and more risk-averse and pessimistic. Eighteen percent of bullied autistic children fight back.
The first dinosaur, the first stone spear, the first subduction volcanism, and the Grand Canyon were all found to have appeared earlier than previously believed. Astronomers measured interaction between the universe’s diffuse extragalactic background light and the gamma rays of nearby blazars. Belgian astronomers found that the surface temperature of the hypergiant HR 8752 had increased by 60 percent in three decades as the star passed through the Yellow Evolutionary Void. Betelgeuse was on course to collide with a wall of dust around 7,000 a.d., but Apophis will not hit Earth in 2036. The Large Quasar Group was found to be 4 billion light-years across and therefore too large to exist. Matter, it was discovered, can be used to tell time. “A rock,” said physicist Holger Müller, “is a clock.”