The Ivanov Experiments or Humanzee

Hybrids, when not in the annals of science fiction, are not very intimidating things. We get often-infertile animals like the mule and wholphin from two similar species producing viable offspring. However, there is an interesting realm where few have dared to tread -- human hybridization. This is very intimidating for many. In fact, some are outright enraged at the idea. No matter where you stand on the matter, the truth is that a human and chimpanzee has been hypothesized and the science adds up quite enough that it is not unreasonable to assume it could happen.

In the first half of the 20th century, a Russian scientist named Ilya Ivonavich Ivanov was a successful zoologist. He wasn't just sitting around his lab thinking up insane ways to freak people out. He developed a method of artificial insemination for livestock. His main focuses were to create sturdy hybrids and save endangered species. We do not remember him for that. We remember him for trying to make a human/chimpanzee hybrid.

It seems the first known mention of Ivanov's interest in this "field" came in 1910, when he spoke about it. Over the next 20 years, he worked on the idea off and on. He clearly was never successful, but he did not have a whole lot of support. It definitely couldn't be said that an exhaustive effort was made and it just isn't possible. His efforts were stopped in 1930 when he was arrested based on what seems likes unrelated events during a time of difficult for scientists in Soviet Russia.

The Bizarre Murder of Tim McLean

Some crimes even stand out among other, similar crimes. It is not usually because of their depravity. It is rather obvious that few things are left to do to other human beings that have not been done before. What usually makes them stand out is some factor outside of the crime itself. In the case of the murder of Tim McLean, it was the brazen boldness of the act combined with its extreme violence that make it bizarre in the annals of crime. The perpetrator is certainly not the only man to commit a similar act in a similarly public way, but the cases are rather few.

Before we get into details, know that this is a horribly sad and gory tale. It happened on a moving Greyhound bus near Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. Mr. McLean was a 22-year-old carnival worker who was taking that bus home to Winnipeg at the end of a job. He sat very near the back of the bus, only one row up from the bathroom. He had boarded the bus at about 12:01 the afternoon of July 30, 2008.

About 7 hours after McLean got on the bus, it was boarded by another man, a stranger to the first. His name is Vince Weiguang Li. Li sat near the front of the bus initially. However, he eventually made his way toward the back, sparking the suspicion of no one with his calm and composed movements. He chose a seat next to the extraordinarily unfortunate Tim McLean, who proceeded to fall asleep with his headphones on. He awakened only briefly to a nightmare.

While McLean was asleep, Li took out a knife one witness would describe as a "Rambo knife." He then stabbed McLean in the neck and chest repeatedly. McLean woke and tried to fight off his attacker to no avail. By this point, other people on the bus were aware of what was happening. Either one had screamed or McLean had, alerting one witness to the event. The bus driver stopped and the terrified passengers disembarked. A few men and the bus driver tried to get back on to help McLean, but they were warded off by Li and his knife.

While the other passengers stood outside, some ill, some trying desperately to come up with a plan, Li removed his victim's head and displayed it, calmly they said, to the people outside. He then returned to the corpse and began cutting at it. Witnesses say he ate some of the pieces. Given that McLean's eyes and part of his heart were never recovered, the statement holds up. He also paced the bus, tried to drive it away and tried to leave it. He was unsuccessful thanks to the efforts of the driver, some of the passengers and a good Samaritan truck driver.

The police eventually arrived and relieved the traumatized bystanders. There was something of a stand off and then police managed to taze Li as he smashed a window and tried to the leave the bus. Contrarily, a police officer had heard him say, "I have to stay on the bus forever" a bit earlier. Once in custody, the police found McLean's nose, ears and tongue in the murderer's pockets. Li was found insane by the court and remains in a mental health facility where he continues to struggle with the idea that he cannibalized a man, according to staff.

Bizarre Hoax: 54 Berners Street

Sometimes, there is some fun to be had in analyzing the most bizarre things we can find in history, the present and nature. Among the best lighthearted bizarreness are hoaxes. Sure, they are not so much fun for the victim(s), but, in my opinion, it sure beats writing about murderers and poisonous plants. I lied, I love writing about poisonous plants, but I'm getting off topic. I'm here to tell you about the Berners Street Hoax and that is what I am going to do.

Back in 1810, gentlemen weren't exactly the stiff pains in the butt you may imagine them to have been. At least, Theodore Hook wasn't stiff. He was definitely a pain. He bet a friend, legend has it this friend was Samuel Beazley, that he could turn 54 Berners Street into the most famous home in London in a single week. He won the bet.

On November 27 or 26, depending on the source, the chaos began with a chimney sweep knocking on Mrs. Tottenham's door at 54 Berners Street at a very early hour. She hadn't ordered one, but that didn't stop this service provider and countless others from arriving that day. Before the day was over, people were delivering wedding cakes and pianos, offering condolences for a death that had not occurred and the mayor even arrived to have a meeting with the homeowner, but left when he realized that his summons was a lie. It was an easy assumption to make, given that the street was so crowded as to be blocked and even was officially blocked at one point.

It turns out, Hook had sent between 1,000 and 4,000 letters to the people and workers of London asking them to come to the house under a variety of pretenses. The sheer number of letters points to an accomplice, but exactly who helped him is not certain. In fact, police never even apprehended him in the case. He was suspected, but never arrested. You may say he would have deserved it. No doubt people lost money on the prank, but it is remembered more than 200 years later, so his prank had its merit.

Bizarre Statues Around the World

Before we even get started, I'll admit that there is a bunch of weirdest statue posts on the Internet. I definitely lose points for originality. However, there is none here and I'm catering this list to suit That is Bizarre! You will find that this list is a bit limited in at least one way. I'm not including sexually explicit statues. Most of them aren't really bizarre unless you're a prude. I'm only including ones that I found truly strange, even in context.

1. The Peeing Men in Prague

Okay, this one really isn't called "The Peeing Men in Prague." I'm not really sure what it is called, so I just described it. These men are placed outside of the Franz Kafka museum. This piece is by sculptor David Cerny, who I am relatively sure makes more than one appearance on this list. This certainly is not the first sculpture to use the way men urinate as inspiration for a fountain, but it is an interesting one. The, ahem, spigots on the sculpture will draw out shapes and will even write out texts sent to a specific number.

"P*ssing Men Statue" by David Cerna
                            Courtesy of Kenyh Cevaron

2. Franz Kafka Statue -- Prague

Well, it appears that Mr. Kafka inspires some very strange sculptures. The man was a master of bizarre stories, but it is not entirely certain what these strange works have to do with him, if anything. This particular sculpture by Jaroslav Rona. Sure, it is loosely based on one of Kafka's stories about a man riding on another man's shoulders, but this one features Kafka himself riding on the shoulders of what looks like a very large, empty suit.

Franz Kafka by Jaroslav Rona
Courtesy of Henryart

3. "Man Attacked by Babies" Vigeland Sculpture Park

This sculpture in Oslo is a bit alarming, especially without back story. It appears to be a man literally kicking a baby and perhaps having a few more tossed on him from above. Oh, the man is also quite naked. So, he's a jerk, right? Not really. If you look closer, you will see that the babies are horrifically evil in a subtle kind of way. The statue depicts a man being attacked by imps in the guise of babies. That explains why he's trying to kick a field goal with one of them.

"Man Attacked by Babies" by Gustav Vigeland
Courtesy of Grzegorz Wysocki

4. Babies of Prague

Here we are back in Prague, a place that clearly allows alarming art to litter the streets. Guess what else is back? David Cerna and his seriously creepy aesthetic. The babies are large sculptures found in several places. I'm not quite sure just how many there are, but I do know the best way to see them is from the base of the Zizkov Television Tower. There are many crawling up it so it looks like it is being attacked by mutant children. The best part is their faces or I should say their lack of faces. The heads are fronted by what looks like a rectangular butthole.

Baby by David Cerny
Courtesy of David Cerny

5. Bukchon Museum Bench in Seoul

Bukchon Museum in Seoul is a quaint little museum in Seoul, Korea. Just outside of its glass front is a bench that makes for a great photo opportunity. It may be more fun that bizarre, but it certainly is strange. On either end is a large head with exaggerated features and straight, even teeth. Inside of these teeth is clenched the wood of the bench. The effect is two men's heads coming up out of the sidewalk and trying to eat either side of a cracker a la Lady and the Tramp.

(I could not find a public domain or shared photo of this piece. Just Google "Bukchon Museum Bench. Sorry for the inconvenience.)

6. The Child Eater of Bern

Okay, the German name for this sculpture is Kindlifresserbrunnen, but I'm not typing that more than once, so Child Eater of Bern it is. This Swiss sculpture was made by Hans Gieng in the 16th century CE. It features a very colorful ogre or man with a sack full of babies in one arm. The other arm is engaged in shoving one of the children in the ogre's mouth. The ogre is part of a larger statue. There is some mystery as to what it means, as there appears to be no record of the inspiration behind the design.

"Kindlifresserbrunnen" by Hans Gieng
Courtesy of Arno Konings
7. Victoria's Way Indian Sculpture Park in County Wicklow, Ireland

Instead of wading through the strange statues in this park, I'm just going to invite you to Google it and see what pops up. I think you will be hard pressed to find a single statue that isn't bizarre inside of the park.

(None of the photos I could find of this park in the public domain were cool enough. Again, just use Google. I hate to make you do it, but the alternative is worse.)

Bizarre Plants: Gympie, Gympie

Gympie, Gympie
courtesy of Petr DlouhĂ˝
There are plants that eat things, sting things, have exploding seedpods and more. Among these dangerously strange plants is one that goes by many names, but my favorite of them is gympie gympie. Its Latin name is Dendrocnide moroides. It is a stinging shrub that grows in Indonesia, Australia and the Moluccas with some seriously effective defense mechanisms.

Along the entire roughly 3 to 9 foot tall plant are stinging hairs that can embed themselves in your skin. These stingers emit an extremely painful neurotoxin. The sting causes a cluster of red dots that eventually spread until they grow together. The intense pain is known to be strong enough to put people and animals out of their minds. It can go on for months. What is worse, allergic reactions to the plant may get worse with repeated exposure, as with researcher Marine Hurley.

Stings from the gympie gympie can allegedly kill humans and large mammals. That means victims should get the stinging hairs out as soon as possible and seek palliative treatment. You can remove the stingers with a hair removal strip. Most people don't have those lying around while hiking, but being aware of your surroundings and being prepared goes a long way, so start if you know these plants are nearby.

The Bizarre Letter of the Axeman of New Orleans

Sometimes, even serial killers take bizarre to another level. Sure, they are already inherently weird, since most of us just do not go around axing people, but there are those who go above and beyond the standard serial killer oddity. One of these killers, who is presumably a man, but was never caught, is the so-called "Axeman of New Orleans." As mentioned above, him killing people is not exactly strange in the world of serial killers, so we are going to skip that and get straight to a letter purportedly written by him and that gives citizens an odd get out of murder free card.

(If you want to read a detailed account of the Axeman of New Orleans' crimes, there is a thorough one here.)

In a letter dated March 13, 1919, the Axeman of New Orleans or someone purporting to be him wrote a tremendously creepy self-assessment and threat. The self-assessment was predictably grandiose. He was no man. He was Satan's homie, blah, blah, blah. On top of this, he professes his love of jazz music. Okay, so he likes jazz music. Not that strange. He then says he will "visit" the city "next Tuesday night." The date was March 19. Anyone playing jazz music would be spared. Seriously? What kind of serial killer is this?

The Axeman never did kill anyone that day. It was not because the whole city was playing jazz. Many were, but many purposely did not. Maybe he just wimped out. He did kind of set himself up for failure there. Maybe the letter wasn't really written by him. Whatever the case, it was a strange enough story to make it into "American Horror Story: Coven," in case you are interested in seeing an entertaining account of the time.

By the way, speaking of weird, I now have the Beatles' "Taxman" stuck in my head as "Axeman." You're welcome.