Leech collars Aussie perp for armed robbery

November 19, 2009

A blood-sucking leech colluded with DNA-profiling Australian police to bring an armed robber to justice, National Geographic News and Associated Press report.

In 2001, two men burgled the home of a Tasmanian woman and stole “several hundred” Australian dollars. Perspicacious Aussie plod discovered an engorged leech at the scene, and promptly bagged it.

Peter Cannon was arrested some seven years later on an unrelated dope charge, and had his DNA profile taken as a routine part of the Tasmanian police’s investigation.

Astoundingly, the police were able to match his DNA sample to the stomach contents of the crime-fighting invertebrate. Cannon faces up to 21 years in jail if a conviction is secured.

His accomplice, who presumably avoided the advances of the haemophagic gumshoe, remains at large.

Argentine ants plot global domination

July 13, 2009

Humanity’s inevitable subjugation under the merciless lash of the invertebrates came one step closer today, as the BBC reports the encirclement of the globe by a vast, unbroken colony of Argentine ants.

Scientists presently cowering in Japan, Europe and the United States discovered a horrifying degree of fraternisation between geographically-disparate colonies of Linepithema humile, a species of ant once endemic to South America. Unwittingly, clay-footed humans have introduced the sextuped horde to every continent save Antarctica.

The ants are implacably hostile to other L. humile individuals who are not demonstrably members of their own colony. Kinship is gleaned from specific chemical signals issued from the ants’ carapaces.

Researchers have shown, for example, that encounters between the dominant European super-colony and the smaller Catalan colony inevitably result in scuffles; the sunburnt Europeans boistrously guzzle sangria and toss garden furniture into the pool, whilst mustachioed Iberian ants casually grope European females and overcharge for accommodation.

Somewhat unexpectedly, however, when ants from the European super-colony met representatives from the Japanese super-colony, it was all smiles. The ants “rubbed antennae with one another, never became aggressive, or tried to avoid one another.” Similar behaviour was observed between the Californians and Japanese, and indeed the Californians and Europeans.

The only plausible explanation, researchers claim, is that ants from the three dominant super-colonies are more closely related to one another than they are to members of the minor colonies.

“Absence or low levels of aggression at transcontinental scale, which may have derived from low genetic variation, may help introduced Argentine ants maintain expansive supercolonies,” the puny humans report in Insectes Sociaux.

“The enormous extent of this population is paralleled only by human society,” they continue.

Readers tempted to quote Kent Brockman are hereby relieved of duty.

9/11 hero dog cloned

June 22, 2009

A dog which retrieved survivors from the wreckage of the World Trade Centre has been successfully cloned, Agence France Press reports.

BioArts International last year held a contest to determine the world’s most “cloneworthy” dog, in what they called the “Golden Clone Giveaway”. Genetic immortality was awarded to Trakr, the valorous Alsatian responsible for discovering the last human survivor of the terrorist attack on New York, September 11 2001.

Lou Hawthorne, Chief Executive of BioArts, said: “We received many very touching submissions to our contest, each describing some truly amazing dogs, but Trakr’s story blew us away.”

Five healthy German Shepherd puppies have been cloned from the prestigious pooch’s DNA, following the assitance of South Korea’s SooAm Biotech Research Foundation.

Trakrs offspring, with equally preposterous names

Trakr's offspring, with equally preposterous names: Trustt (sic), Valor, Prodigy, Solace and Deja Vu

“Trakr was an extraordinary search and rescue dog. His work at Ground Zero was the culmination of his career,” said retired RCMP dog handler James Symington, Trakr’s human partner.

It is hoped the puppies, dubbed Trustt, Valor, Prodigy, Solace and Deja Vu (pictured), will follow in the pawprints of their genetic forbear and embark (haha) on a career of rescue work.

“If they have the same attributes Trakr did, then hopefully they’ll develop into world class search and rescue dogs,” said Symington, as the assembled hacks dabbed their eyes with their handkerchieves.

In addition to the emotional potency of cloning a dead 9/11 hero, Trakr’s descendants somewhat vindicate the work of Hwang Woo-Suk, the South Korean scientist recently disgraced for falsifying his results. His five-for-the-price of-one attitude to American heroes is sure to go a long way towards his academic rehabilitation.