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The Spies Who Mapped Great Swathes of South Asia by Foot

For more than a century, the British were able to boast that the sun never set on their enormous empire.But in the mid-19th century, colonists ruling over the Indian subcontinent became painfully aware...

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Giant 'Spider Bum Parachutes' Cover New Zealand Field

A New Zealand family was shocked Sunday to find that the shimmering waves that had begun to cover their local soccer field were in fact one giant spider web.According to the Otago Daily Times, the...

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Do Meteors Hiss, Sizzle, and Pop?

For hundreds of years there have been reports of people hearing the sound of meteors—shooting stars—as they streak across the sky. As early as 1714, astronomy Edmond Halley (yes, that Halley, of comet...

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Beaver Herds Cows

On April 14, a Saskatchewan rancher and her husband noticed a bunch of heifers on their property moving in a peculiar way. When they investigated further, they saw this: That, in case the video is too...

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Motel Honors 16-Year-Old Coupon

Better late than never: Couple cashes in coupon for free stay at Brandon hotel after 17 years https://t.co/0Lf4qG1EO9pic.twitter.com/1Zv0idxm1D — CBC Manitoba (@CBCManitoba) April 15, 2017In September...

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This Bot Generates a Fantasy World Every Hour

So you want to build a world? Here’s the recipe, at its most basic: Take some topography, then add water. That was Martin O’Leary’s approach when he decided to build a program to spit out imaginary...

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The Sketchy Faith Healer Who Tried to Save New York From Vice

John Alexander Dowie was not America’s first faith healer—but he was the first to get rich doing it. Dowie, a Congregational minister originally from Scotland, discovered his unusual gift in 1876, when...

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The Improbable Endurance of the Lickable Envelope

A version of this post originally appeared on Tedium, a twice-weekly newsletter that hunts for the end of the long tail.Over 120 years ago, in 1895, a businessman named Sigmund Fechheimer had the...

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Have You Made Your Obscura Day 2017 Plans Yet?

Atlas Obscura's sixth annual Obscura Day—the special day we set aside each year to celebrate our mission of discovery and exploration—is just a couple of weeks away, May 6, 2017. For those of you still...

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A 'River Pirate' Can Be a Criminal—Or Another River

This is a story about climate change, and a glacier in the Yukon, and a muddy lakebed full of miniature hoodoos, but it's going to start with a brief detour, to more than 200 years ago, some 3,600...

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'Paw Prints' Found After Dog Disappears From California Bedroom

Around 3 a.m. the morning of Monday, April 17, Vickie Fought, the owner of a 15-pound Portuguese Podengo named Lenore, woke to hear her dog barking aggressively. Fought looked over to where the dog had...

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Up Close and Personal With the World's Most Artistic Mollusks

Step into the Zymoglyphic Museum in Portland, Oregon, and you're immediately surrounded by impossible creatures. One case holds a couple of Scaly Eyeball Plants, contorted and peering out of jugs, and...

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Found: Old Scottish Home Movies From the 1970s—in New Zealand

Earlier this month, in Whakatane, about 180 miles southeast of Auckland, New Zealand, a bunch of old movies were discovered in a secondhand furniture store, according to The Courier.The movies, shot on...

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Found: A Giant Morel Mushroom Hiding in the Indiana Woods

It’s morel mushroom season in the Midwest, and in Indiana, one teenager discovered a particularly giant specimen of the tasty treats.Jayden Graber, 13, found a “ginormous mushroom” near the town of...

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The World's Favorite Wombat Has Died

Posted by Patrick the Wombat on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 Patrick the Wombat, crown jewel of the Ballarat Wildlife Park in Victoria, Australia, was a very special guy. He loved to ride around in a bright...

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Argentina's Ex-President Appears to Be Cursed

Among the superstitious citizens of Argentina, one name keeps voices hushed: ex-president Carlos Menem, who ran the country from 1989 to 1999. Saying his name out loud—or worse, coming into physical...

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How to Test the Quality of Your Soil With Underwear

It's National Soil Conservation Week in Canada, and what is usually a "boring, quiet affair," as one official put it, is getting a little sexier this year. That's because Canadian officials are...

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Edward Gorey, Pack Rat

In 1976, Edward Gorey put out one of his trademark works of everyday dread. Called Les Passementeries Horribles, or "The Horrible Trimmings," the book consists solely of illustrations of enormous,...

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This North Carolina Snake Ball Is More Romantic Than You Think

A North Carolina jogger was nearly tripped up recently when she encountered a writhing ball of snakes along her path. And while it was a pretty startling encounter, the jogger was apparently...

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In the 1960s, the CIA Fired Some Employees Over a Cafeteria Fight

A version of this story originally appeared on Muckrock.com.We’ve written about the CIA’s frustrations with its cafeteria before, with grievances both petty and the stuff of nightmares. But as internal...

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