Vendors Bring the Weird to the Morbid Anatomy Museum Spring Flea Market

Where do you go to find skeletons, bone saws, vintage books, jewelry and other weird things? The Morbid Anatomy Museum’s spring flea market was the place to find it last weekend.

Last Sunday the Morbid Anatomy Museum held their first flea market of the year, which featured bones, skulls, and other weird things from a variety of vendors.

The Morbid Anatomy Spring Flea Market at the Morbid Anatomy Museum (424-A Third Avenue) in Brooklyn was born from French expat Laetitia Barbier’s memories of hitting up flea markets on Sundays in Paris, which were full of all sorts of items, from the traditional to the strange (strange as in, full skeletons).

“When I was in Paris I would go to the flea market all the time,” Barbier says. “It’s an afternoon of fun, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money.”

She’s done her part to bring that experience to the Morbid Anatomy Museum, where she’s head librarian and program director, organizing the flea every few months between March and Christmas. This past Sunday was the first flea of the year, which included nine vendors who sold a variety of items, from antiques and old books to jewelry made of bones and live taxidermy.

via The Village Voice

Morbid Anatomy Museum spring flea market

Pablo Escobar’s Gold-Plated Hippo Skull

A gold-plated hippo skull, an extravagant curiosity from the Viktor Wynd Museum, is believed to have been owned by Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.
Pablo Escobar's gold-plated hippo skull in the Hanbury Collection

This gold-plated hippo skull, currently on display at the Viktor Wynd Museum, is purported to have belonged to drug baron Pablo Escobar. It seems the authenticity of the item has not been confirmed, but that didn’t stop the skull from stirred up a lot of interest recently when it took center stage at the Curiosities from the Hanbury Collection exhibition in London last year.

Is it possible this hippo did actually belong to the notorious cocaine kingpin?

In the early 80s, Escobar imported exotic animals into Colombia, including elephants, giraffes and hippos. He built a zoo on his ranch, Hacienda Napoles, and opened it to the public. Visitors entered through a gate beneath the decommissioned plane that carried his first shipments of cocaine into the US.

The entrance to Pablo Escobar's ranch Hacienda Napoles
Hacienda Napoles, Pablo Escobar’s ranch in Columbia

So yes, he definitely had access to hippos. But did he have one of their skulls cast in gold? Well, he is regarded as the wealthiest criminal in history, and the gold hippo skull would have fit right in at his luxurious estate. I haven’t been able to uncover the origin of the claim, but the story is certainly compelling.

Pablo Escobar’s Hippos

Hacienda Napoles was confiscated after Escobar negotiated his surrender to authorities in 1991. Most of the animals were transported to other zoos around the world, but for some reason the hippos were left behind. They continue to thrive there today, multiplying more rapidly than they do in Africa, eating crops, crushing cows and making a general nuisance of themselves.

The drug lord’s ranch is now a theme park, complete with luxury hotels overlooking the zoo and tropical park.

Unreleased Welcome to Night Vale Novel #1 Top Seller on Amazon

The as-yet-unreleased novel based on the Welcome to Night Vale podcast has already become the #1 top seller in Horror Literature & Fiction on Amazon.
Welcome to Night Vale novel based on the popular podcast

In a strange twist of fate that seems only fitting, the highly anticipated novel based on the popular Welcome to Night Vale podcast reached the #1 top seller position on Amazon in Horror Literature & Fiction… and it hasn’t even been released yet.

Welcome to Night Vale is a podcast created in 2012 by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. It is presented in the style of a community radio show, focusing on news from the fictional…and rather odd…town of Night Vale. The book will explore new, and no doubt equally weird corners of Night Vale.

Located in a nameless desert somewhere in the great American Southwest, Night Vale is a small town where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are all commonplace parts of everyday life. It is here that the lives of two women, with two mysteries, will converge.

Nineteen-year-old Night Vale pawn shop owner Jackie Fierro is given a paper marked “KING CITY” by a mysterious man in a tan jacket holding a deer skin suitcase. Everything about him and his paper unsettles her, especially the fact that she can’t seem to get the paper to leave her hand, and that no one who meets this man can remember anything about him. Jackie is determined to uncover the mystery of King City and the man in the tan jacket before she herself unravels.

Night Vale PTA treasurer Diane Crayton’s son, Josh, is moody and also a shape shifter. And lately Diane’s started to see her son’s father everywhere she goes, looking the same as the day he left years earlier, when they were both teenagers. Josh, looking different every time Diane sees him, shows a stronger and stronger interest in his estranged father, leading to a disaster Diane can see coming, even as she is helpless to prevent it.

Diane’s search to reconnect with her son and Jackie’s search for her former routine life collide as they find themselves coming back to two words: “KING CITY”. It is King City that holds the key to both of their mysteries, and their futures…if they can ever find it.

Welcome to Night Vale novel

Pre-Order Welcome to Night Vale Now

Listen to Welcome to Night Vale

“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Judge it by the harmful messages it contains.”

Extinct Lord Howe Island Stick Insects Found in Unlikely Place

Believed to be extinct for 80 years, the giant Lord Howe Island stick insect showed up in the most unlikely place.
Lord Howe Island stick insects at the Melbourne Zoo

When Europeans first landed on Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Ocean between Australia and New Zealand, they discovered a unique species of stick insect so large they called them “tree lobsters.” Dryococelus australis was common there, and often used by fisherman as bait.

That all changed in 1918, though, when the supply ship S.S. Makambo ran aground on the island. It was stranded there for 9 days while the crew made repairs. During that time, black rats who had stowed away on the Makambo jumped ship and discovered the stick insects were a tasty treat. The rats devoured the species, and the last one was seen in 1920.

The tree lobster was believed to be extinct.

Ball's Pyramid, where 24 Lord Howe Island stick insects were found surviving on a single plant in 2001
Ball’s Pyramid, discovered in 1788, is the tallest volcanic stack in the world at 1,844 ft

About 13 miles from Lord Howe Island is a craggy rock formation protruding from the sea. It is called Ball’s Pyramid, after Henry Lidgbird Ball who discovered it in 1788. In 1964, a team of climbers on Ball’s Pyramid found a dead Lord Howe Island stick insect. A few more were discovered over the years, but none that were alive.

It wasn’t until 2001 that two Australian scientists decided to investigate. They scaled the rock, and discovered 24 of the stick insects surviving on a single Melaleuca shrub. Two breeding pairs were later collected. One pair was sent to an private breeder, though they died two weeks later. The other pair, dubbed Adam and Eve, were taken to the Melbourne Zoo where a successful breeding program has since bred over 9,000 of the insects.

The Lord Howe Island stick insects are considered the rarest insects in the world. Scientists hope to to eradicate the rats from the island and reintroduce the insects. How they got to Ball’s Pyramid and managed to survive there on a single plant for 80 years is a mystery.

via NPR

Monsters in America cryptid road trip map

Monsters in America: Map Out Your Cryptozoology Road Trip

Take a cryptid road trip with this Monsters of America map from Hog Island Press and track down Bigfoot, Mothman, the Pope Lick monster and more.