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Fearsome amphibian

QUICK TAKES | Discovery of massive invasive toad might set new Guinness World Record

Conway National Park

Fearsome amphibian
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It was bad news for Australians hoping to manage the population of invasive cane toads. A park ranger patrolling the Queensland wilderness spotted a cane toad so large it reminded her of a football with legs. Dubbed “Toadzilla,” the animal tipped the scales at nearly 6 pounds, about six times bigger than the average specimen, and possibly the largest toad on record. Park officials submitted the finding to Guinness World Records in hopes of topping the record for largest toad set in 1991. After documenting the animal, park officials euthanized the female to prevent her from laying eggs. Wildlife officials in Australia pointed to the extreme size of the captured toad as a problem because larger invasive toads can eat more native species.

Drive-thru mix-up

Josiah Vargas got more than he bargained for after visiting a McDonald’s in Elkhart, Ind., last month. Rather than the sausage McMuffin he ordered in the drive-thru, Vargas instead received a McDonald’s sack full of cash. Vargas, who posted his story on TikTok, said he assumed the staff accidentally handed him its bank deposit rather than his order. He estimated the bag ­contained about $5,000 in bills stuffed into zip-lock bags. After Vargas returned the money inside the store, the grateful staff rewarded him with $200 and free McDonald’s food for a month.

No egg-ceptions

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials are used to dealing with drug runners and human traffickers. Now they’re watching for egg smugglers. On Jan. 17, San Diego Field Office director Jennifer De La O noted on Twitter that her team had stopped several people from moving undeclared eggs from Mexico into the U.S. From December 2021 to December 2022, egg prices spiked 60 ­percent—an increase largely blamed on avian flu–related ­culling of millions of birds in 2022.

Lost at sea food

Elvis Francois knew he was in trouble when his small boat became caught in a current and drifted away from the shores of St. Martin in the Caribbean Sea in December. The sailboat wasn’t operational and was taking on water. After 24 days adrift, Francois finally got the attention of an airplane by using a signal mirror, and then a passing ship rescued him. Francois said he survived the ordeal by collecting rainwater for drinking and eating ketchup, garlic powder, and bullion cubes.

Sleeping streak

Minnesota teenager Isaac Ortman hasn’t slept in his bed in over 1,000 nights: Instead, he sleeps outside. His streak began in April 2020 when pandemic restrictions brought his Boy Scout troop activities to a halt. The 14-year-old told the Minneapolis Star Tribune he’s still camping outside every night because “it’s just fun.” During cold weather, Isaac constructed a shelter made from packed snow called a quinzhee. On warmer nights, he tucks into a hammock in his family’s backyard. The ninth grader said he has no plans to quit, but he’s closely following a British teen who started a ­similar streak 20 days before he did.

The law for borrowers

After contemplating a plan to avoid a fine, a British pensioner decided to do the honorable thing. In January, David Hickman finally returned a book to the Dudley Library near Birmingham, U.K., after checking it out in 1964. Hickman said he borrowed The Law for Motorists originally to combat a traffic violation in court. He lost. And then the book traveled with him when he moved to London. Now, nearly 60 years later, the 76-year-old said he thought about returning it anonymously to avoid the approximately 25-cent per day fine. Instead, he delivered it in person. Thankfully for Hickman, the library waived the more than $52,000 in overdue charges.

Who turned the lights on?

School officials in Wilbraham, Mass., were assured the new lighting system installed at Minnechaug Regional High School was so advanced, they wouldn’t even need a light switch. But after a software glitch in August 2021, no one could figure out how to turn the lights off. After more than 17 months, the lights are still running day and night, costing thousands of dollars a month according to a school official. The problem began when a software failure switched the lights into default mode, leaving them ­permanently on. Following months of delays from back-ordered parts, the school expects a lighting company to update the system and regain control this month.


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