Mental Floss

The Weird Week in Review

Miss Cellania
University of Nottingham/Angus Davison/Twitter
University of Nottingham/Angus Davison/Twitter / University of Nottingham/Angus Davison/Twitter


Jeremy the garden snail is unique in that his shell curls to the left, while almost all snails of his species grow shells that curve to the right. Scientists want to study his genes by examining his descendants, but he would need another left-handed snail to mate with. Now, a potential mate has been found. Jade Melton is an amateur snail scientist, and has kept a left-handed snail named Lefty since she found him quite some time ago. When she heard Jeremy's story, Melton contacted Dr. Angus Davidson of the University of Nottingham. The two snails, which each have both male and female reproductive organs, have been housed together to see if they will mate.


Toilet paper strips have been seen on various roads in Littleton, Colorado, but this is not Halloween vandalism, but a road repair breakthrough. City repair crews fill cracks in the asphalt with tar, and then lay the toilet paper over top. The scheme will be used for 120 streets in Littleton slated to have their cracks filled.

The TP, applied with a paint roller, absorbs the oil from freshly laid tar as it dries, keeping it from sticking to people’s shoes or car and bike tires. With the paper’s protective abilities, asphalt isn’t tracked all over the city or splattered on wheel wells. And the biodegradable paper breaks down and disappears in a matter of days. “Since my car is new, I didn’t want it to get damaged,” Worthington said. Kelli Narde, a spokeswoman for Littleton, said the real benefit of using toilet paper is that it allows traffic to retake the road right after a crack is filled. “It means traffic has better access because we don’t have to close down a street to do the sealing,” she said.

There are industrial products sold for exactly this purpose, but single-ply toilet paper does just as well for a fraction of the cost. Double-ply will not work, because the top layer blows away into yards. It's an idea that may spread to a community near you.


Voters in Oceanside, California, were to choose between incumbent Gary Ernst and challenger Nadine Scott for the office of city treasurer. Then Ernst died in September. It was too late to remove his name from the ballot. But then the city newsletter not only praised Ernst's accomplishments, but urged citizens to vote for Ernst anyway, because if he won, the city council could "appoint a treasurer who is qualified."  The newsletter did not mention Nadine Scott. On election day, Ernst received 53.06% of the votes. The city council must now decide whether to hold a special election to fill the slot, or to appoint a city treasurer.


Sean Smyrichinsky was diving for sea cucumbers off the coast of Pitt Island, British Columbia. He was excited to find a large object, at least 12 feet across, that reminded him of a UFO. When he told the tale to some fishermen, they suggested he might have found "that bomb."

“That bomb” was a nuclear device that was dumped or exploded off the B.C. coast on Feb. 13, 1950, when an American B-36 bomber crashed while en route from Alaska to Texas. It was packed with lead – not plutonium – and TNT. Five crew members died but 12 were rescued after they parachuted onto Princess Royal Island, about 200 km south of Prince Rupert. They were forced to abandon the plane after ice built up on its wings and three of its six engines caught fire. None of the stories at the time of the crash detailed the payload the bomber had been carrying. But eventually it was discovered that the bomber’s mission was to simulate a nuclear attack on San Francisco, and the plane had been carrying a Mark IV nuclear weapon.

Smyrichinsky looked up a picture of the missing bomb, and believes it is the same object he saw. He reported the find to the Department of National Defence, who will investigate.


Passengers on Aeromexico flight 231 from Torreon to Mexico City on Sunday were stunned to see a Hollywood movie come to life. A snake wriggled its way into the cabin area from a gap between the ceiling and the wall. The reptile was reported to the airport, and the plane was given priority in landing at Mexico City. Airport staff caught the snake, but not before several phone videos captured the incident. Authorities are investigating how the snake got onto the plane.