5 Strange Stories: Ancient Legs Identified and STD's from Shaving - Dispatch Weekly

December 6, 2016 - Reading time: 10 minutes

Here are our top picks for today’s strangest stories in tech, science and health, including cannabis use increasing amongst elderly, shaving amplifying the risk of STD’s and how a parrot with a custom-fitting pair of goggles is helping scientists.

#1 Mystery Surrounding an Ancient Pair of Legs Solved

A mystery surrounding a pair of ancient Egyptian legs might have been solved, according to researchers from the University of York in the U.K.

The ancient pair of legs was found in a crypt in 1904, in Egypt’s valley of the Queens. The tomb, which belonged to Queen Nefertari, wife of Ramesses the Great, had already been discovered by looters.

Joann Fletcher, lead author of the study, argued that simply because the pair of legs was found in Queen Nefertari’s tomb did not mean that they belonged to her.

Fletcher said, “They could have been washed into the tomb at a later date during one of the occasional flash floods that do occur in that part of Egypt.”

In order to eventually determine the origin of the legs, researchers carried out x-rays that let them determine the owner’s status in life, based on how much strain the knees had been put under. The result: they clearly didn’t belong to a simple laborer.

The researchers also discovered her age at the time of death, between 40 and 60. Her height was estimated at 5 feet 4 inches, tall for an ancient Egyptian woman.

The researchers ultimately concluded that, “the most likely scenario is that the mummified knees truly belong to Queen Nefertari,” based on the evidence gathered.

#2 STD’s on the Rise, Especially for Those Who Regularly Shave


Doctors from the University of California, San Francisco, are now warning that people who regularly remove all their pubic hair are increasing their risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s).

Researchers, analyzing a survey of more than 7,500 adults, determined that one of the most likely reasons for the increased risk of STD’s was micro-tears in the skin. These micro-tears in the skin are caused by shaving or trimming and make it easier for the infections to enter the body.

The researchers also identified that men and women who ‘groom’ regularly were more likely to be sexually active.

They advised that those who do groom regularly should wait until the skin has healed before becoming sexually active again.

The survey found that everyone who trims or shaves his or her pubic hair has an increased chance of catching STD’s. However, those who were more extreme in their grooming habits were four times as likely to catch an STD.

A 2016 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in 2015 were the highest on record. This included more than 1.5 million cases of chlamydia, which is the most commonly reported STD in the U.S.

#3 Cannabis Use Skyrocketing Amongst Elderly

Photo Credit: EarthMed
Photo Credit: EarthMed

A new study by New York University has revealed that cannabis use amongst the elderly has exploded by over 70 percent.

Dr Joseph J. Palamer, lead author, said:

“For years we’ve been worried about the potential effects of marijuana on the developing brains of teens, but now we may need a bit more focus on their grandparents, who are increasingly more likely to be current users.”

The study, which surveyed over 47,000 U.S. adults over the age of 50, found that between 2006 and 2013 cannabis use increased by 71 percent.

Dr Palamer said:

“Apparently very few Baby Boomers consider marijuana use risky.”

Cannabis is legal in eight states: Nevada, Maine, Colorado, Washington, California, Massachusetts, Alaska and Oregon.

Florida, the latest state to legalize medical marijuana, has the largest percentage of over 65 year-olds in the U.S. The Cannabist has speculated that by 2020 Florida could be generating $1.6 billion in medical marijuana sales.

#4 Parrot in Tiny Goggles Helps Pioneer New Research

Photo Credit: Eric Gutierrez
Photo Credit: Eric Gutierrez

A team of scientists from Stanford University trained a parrot named Obi to help test three scientific models. The models, which were widely agreed upon, were used to calculate how much force winged animals needed to stay in the air.

However, the scientists have found that these models are no longer accurate, based upon their findings using Obi.

The parrot was trained to wear a tiny pair of goggles (as seen above) and fly through a space that was infused with water particles. A grid of lasers illuminated the space that Obi was flying through.

Obi was surrounded by 12 cameras tracking his every move. As the parrot flew through the water particles the disruptions caused were measured by the research team.

As Obi moved through the space vortices were created in the air. Old scientific models said that these vortices would be stable, slow moving. But the Stanford researchers discovered that the vortices created by Obi were incredibly short-lived and violent.

Speaking about the vortices, David Lentink, mechanical engineer at Stanford University, said:

“[I]n birds, it can happen very close to the bird, within two or three wingbeats. It is much more violent.”

These new developments have applications for drone technology and robotics.

#5 Nuts about Nuts? Why it’s Healthier than You Think


A new study jointly done by Imperial College of London and Norwegian University of Science and Technology has found that eating a small amount of nuts daily can helps reduce risk of certain diseases.

Researchers analyzed 29 studies involving over 800,000 participants. They found that heart disease, cancer, respiratory infections and diabetes were amongst the issues that eating at least 20g of nuts daily could significantly help reduce.

Dagfinn Aune, study co-author, said, “We found a consistent reduction in risk across many different diseases, which is a strong indication that there is a real underlying relationship between nut consumption and different health outcomes.”

“It’s quite a substantial effect for such a small amount of food.”

All types of nuts were found to be beneficial, even peanuts which are not technically nuts, but rather legumes.

Is it safe for the elderly to use cannabis? Should the government do more to reduce STD’s?

DW Staff

David Lintott is the Editor-in-Chief, leading our team of talented freelance journalists. He specializes in covering culture, sport, and society. Originally from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, he attributes his insightful world-weariness to his roots in this unique setting.