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No. 109: Jan-Feb 1997

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Biology Lite

A coughing tree

"The New Zealand Herald reported that hundreds of people are flocking off to a 3,400-year-old maidenhair tree southeast of Beijing, China, to hear the tree make a coughing sound at night. According to the Beijing Evening News, the tree makes the unusual sound several times during the night and resembles an old man coughing.
"The tree is nearly 83 feet (25 m) high and nearly 50 feet (15 m) in circumference and is regarded as a living fossil. As many as 1,000 people at a time have visited the tree to witness the phenomenon since it was first reported April 5th. Speculation abounds as to what causes the coughing sound at night, but no reasonable explanation has yet been presented."

(Anonymous; "Coughing Tree Attracts Hundreds," World Explorer, 1:6, no. 8, 1996)

Synchronicity and death. In category BHF35 in Humans II, we cataloged several cases where identical twins died almost simultaneously. We can add the following to that collection:

"Identical twins John and William Bloomfield lived their entire 61 years together in Australia and died only minutes apart, on Sunday. Both John and William suffered heart attacks."

(Anonymous; "Twins Die," Saginaw News, May 22, 1996. Cr. B. Kingsley via COUD-I.)

Reference. For more on the book: Biological Anomalies: Humans II, visit here.

Crow woes.

"YOKOHAMA -- Crows are being blamed for placing small stones on train tracks, which obstructed JR East train service on at least five occasions this month in Kanagawa Prefecture, prefectural police said.
"The evidence was provided by an office worker who took a photograph of a crow placing small stones on a train track in Yokohama early Saturday morning."


"When police learned about the stone-toting crow, they aimed a video camera at the tracks, Sunday and Monday, and discovered several crows carrying small stones between 3 to 10 centimeters in diameter in their beaks and laying them on the rails.

"On June 8 and 19, police found crow prints in the area.
"Kanagawa police said that recently there have been 21 incidents in which stones were found on train tracks."

These crows (actually Jungle Crows) are known to drop stones on the roofs of houses, apparently because they like to hear the sounds of impact. Perhaps they also enjoy the crunching sounds as trains run over the stones they place on the rails!

(Anonymous; "Fun for Crows Equals Woe for Railroads," Mainichi Daily News (Tokyo), June 28, 1996. Cr. N. Masuya)

From Science Frontiers #109, JAN-FEB 1997. 1997-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987