“A Fish, a Bug and a Weasel Walk into a Museum…”

To celebrate April Fool’s Day (April 1) every year, I like to blog about the lighter side of science.

This year, I highlight the Natural History Museum in Rotterdam.  The museum hosts a unique exhibit called “Dode dieren met een verhaal,” which roughly translates as “Dead animal tales.”

Displays include:

An armored catfish (Corydoras aeneus).  A group of drinking buddies played a game where they swallowed increasingly larger fish whole.  One participant swallowed an armored catfish, only to discover that this creature flares sharp spines as a defense mechanism.  (Think of an aquatic porcupine.)  Unfortunately, the catfish was already down the man’s throat when it did this.  He spent a week in the hospital, where doctors had to remove his meal surgically.  Sadly, the fish did not survive.

The last pubic lice (Pthirus pubis).  The pubic louse is in danger of becoming extinct, due to modern personal grooming habits.  (Think of the “Brazilian”).  The museum began collecting these lice a few years ago in order to preserve specimens.

The world’s most destructive stone marten (Martes foina).  This furry little weasel relative trespassed onto the 17-mile Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.  It accidentally touched a transformer and was instantly electrocuted by 18,000 volts.  Unfortunately, it also caused the $7 billion particle accelerator to lose power and shut down for a week.  (Interestingly, this appears to be a recurring problem at the Large Hadron Collider.)

That’s it for this year!  Remember to enjoy your science!

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