Sep 1, 2021 Episode 62
Ancient “god of death” whale fossil found, hurricane explainer, new spit-free baseball, flying cows and hearty sheep
EPISODE 62 – FOUR LEGGED WHALE
OPENING STING – LEELA: “New, new, newsy – Newsy Pooloozi!”
Hello and welcome to Newsy Pooloozi – your weekly dose of world news!
I’m your host, Leela Sivasankar Prickitt. And, of course, I’m joined by the big-story explainer and sound effects finder – otherwise known as my Mama!
MAMA: Who sometimes also goes by the name of Lyndee Prickitt.
LEELA: Oh, yeah, that too! This week on Newsy Pooloozi…
A new species of a four-legged whale is discovered in an Egyptian desert! OK – an ancient fossil of one. But still – a FOUR-LEGGED whale, folks! Found in a desert?!
As Hurricane Ida cuts through the southern US state of Louisiana – we take deep dive into hurricanes, with a special Newsy Pooloozi Explainer!
In sports news – did you know baseball had a ball problem? Well, a new ball from Japan could be the answer – or should I say a real “hit!”
And finally, from “uplifting” cows to loving sheep – you won’t believe the oddball stories we have for you!
But first, it’s time for…
BIG NEWS STORY STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “The big news story of the week!”
MAMA: Well, your headline pretty much summed this story up Leela: A new species of an ancient four-legged whale – that both walked and swam – has been discovered in an Egyptian desert.
LEELA: I have to say, there is just so much that sounds wrong with that. I mean – I’ve heard of a four-legged whale before, but I’m not sure everybody has. And it was found in a desert? Back up! And how can something ancient be new anyway?
MAMA: Ah, well, it’s a fossil of an ancient animal, ancient as in 43 million years ago, that’s been found. You know, fossil as in the remains of a prehistoric plant or animal that’s embedded – like pressed into – in a rock, so it becomes preserved in what’s known as a petrified form. This one was a partial skeleton.
LEELA: OK, that bit I know. But why is it new then?
MAMA: Ahhh – gotcha. That is confusing. It’s because they’ve never found this species of whale before. So it’s a new species.
LEELA: Ahh – that makes sense. But the four-legged bit – I think most people would think of whales as sea creatures?
MAMA: You’re right. But they are a little special. Despite living in the water, whales breathe air. And, like humans, they’re warm-blooded mammals who nurse, or breastfeed, their young. In fact it’s believed the ancestors of modern whales developed from deer-like mammals that once lived on land.
LEELA: Yep – they evolved from semi-aquatic crocodile-like whales into giant, fully aquatic, whales. I think they must have been pretty ugly.
MAMA: Yeah – have you seen what this one is thought to have looked like? It’s not just a huge blubbery whale with legs but the face of a crocodile, or a fierce canine, with a strong jaw and super sharp teeth, capable of tearing apart a wide range of prey.
LEELA: (Shudders) Yikes!
MAMA: The scientists, from Mansoura University, have officially named it Phiomicetus Anubis – after the canine-headed Egyptian god of the dead, Anubis, associated with mummification and the afterlife. But guess what the nickname is?
LEELA: I don’t think I want to know.
MAMA: You don’t – “the god of death.”
LEELA: So happy to know these creatures aren’t walking the earth any longer.
MAMA: I know this isn’t the first time the fossil of a whale with legs has been found. Ten years another 43-million-year-old four-legged whale was discovered in the South American country of Peru. Though this latest discovery is the earliest type of semi-aquatic whale to be discovered in Africa.
LEELA: About that. How is a semi-aquatic creature discovered in a desert, huh?
MAMA: Ah – that’s easy. 43 million years ago that area of Egypt’s Western Desert was once covered by sea. That’s why it’s such a rich source of fossils.
LEELA: Well, who knew!
MAMA: And that’s why this discovery is so important – because it’s revealing new details about the ocean there and the evolution of whales.
LEELA: And, most importantly, is giving me some great ideas for this year’s Halloween costume…!
SFX OF MONSTER SPLASHING IN WATER
MAMA: OK – moving on!
LEELA: Yes, let’s go from scary prehistoric creatures to scary storms.
MAMA: Hurricane Ida ripped through the southern state of Louisiana, killing at least four people and leaving millions without electricity.
LEELA: The good news is it’s weakened and is no longer considered a hurricane. But, what exactly is a hurricane, I hear you asking? I mean, we all know it’s a lot of wind and danger – but beyond that…?
MAMA: Well, we just so happened to have produced a handy Newsy Pooloozi explainer this time last year, which we thought would be worth playing again.
LEELA: Because we have so many new listeners – yaaaay!
MAMA: And because it’s cute to hear Leela’s voice sounding younger!
MAMA: Let’s talk about what hurricanes actually are.
LEELA: A tornado?
MAMA: Well, sort of. A hurricane is a huge, swirling storm that’s formed over warm tropical water in the ocean. You’ve maybe seen those images of them from space and it really does look like a bunch of thick white swirling clouds. Like cotton.
LEELA: Like cotton candy…?
MAMA: Well, kinda – white cotton candy. But underneath that cotton swirl of clouds – it’s wind.
SFX – wind starting up
MAMA: Think of the windiest wind you’ve ever experienced… Maybe on a playground or a beach as a storm suddenly came – your hair starts to blow all over the place, your hat might blow right off your head or have you ever had your umbrella flipped inside out? Well that’s nothing. That was probably just your average 20 to 30 mile-per-hour super strong… breeze.
But have you ever been out when it’s so windy that it’s difficult to walk? That twigs are breaking off from trees?
SFX – Twigs
MAMA: (stage scream) Even that’s just called a gale.
LEELA: (stage scream) A what?
MAMA: (stage scream) A gale. That’s a pretty word for serious wind. But when you – being a sensible person – go inside… uhhhh, whooo
SFX – door shut, wind off
LEELA: That’s better.
MAMA: Tell me about it! When it’s a storm outside and you see from your window roof shingles or tiles flying off houses and those guttering pipes that are around house ripping off… that’s still just a strong gale going at about 45-50 miles an hour.
LEELA: Even when branches of trees are ripping off, it’s still not considered a storm?!
MAMA: Not until the winds get to 55 miles an hour and then loads of things –
SFX – wind again
MAMA: …like trees, are uprooted and stop signs are yanked from the road and slung up into in the air and, look out! Things are flying about and might knock you out…
LEELA: Mama (stage scream)!
SFX – (ends)
LEELA: (stage whisper) I thought you’d said we were indoors…
MAMA: Oh yeah. Got a bit carried away there… anyway that’s still not a hurricane, Leela. Only when the wind reaches 74 miles an hour (that’s a 119K.M.) – then it’s a hurricane.
SFX: FAB FACT #1
In order for a storm to be called, or categorized, as a “hurricane” the wind must be 74-miles-per-hour.
MAMA: That’s as fast as a car goes on a highway – on a highway, in a mechanism powered by fuel.
LEELA: That’s fast!
MAMA: And things flying about that could knock people out or bust windows isn’t the only problem… That wind can also cause a storm surge – you remember that surge means push…
LEELA: Mama! (laugh)
MAMA: Well the wind pushes wall of sea water to the shore. Mix that with the rain already pouring and…
LEELA: You have a lot of water!
MAMA: Bingo! Which is called?
LEELA: A flood!
MAMA: Right. So even when the storm passes, there can still be massive flooding which can rot out cars and wooden floors and carpets, never mind the creepy things that can swim around in streets that’ve turned to rivers…
LEELA: Are you talking about – ahhhh…!
SFX – snakes
MAMA: Yep! Snakes. And the other thing is – you don’t know where those sewer holes are… what if the lid has popped up and you slip down.
LEELA: (verbal shudder)
MAMA: I know… So while it looks tempting to play in the flood water, it’s better to stay away if you can help it… So that, my dear, is a hurricane. Fun, huh?
WORLD WRAP STING – LEELA: “What’s that? I’ll tell you what. That’s the halftime bell! Which means… it’s time to hear what’s making news around the rest of the world. Hold on tight, it’s around the world in 80 seconds.”
MAMA: The 20-year war in Afghanistan has ended with all but a hundred Americans still in the county according to officials. Around 124,000 people have been evacuated from the country, but officials admit there are thousands of Afghans who worked with Americans and wanted to leave that are still there.
Thousands of cars are filling the roads in California as people rush to flee the massive wildfire closing in on the popular tourist town of Lake Tahoe. The blaze is moving 200 feet per minute in some areas.
Google is the latest tech giant to delay until January a required return to office as the Delta variant of the coronavirus surges in the US. Amazon did so a month ago, followed by Apple and Facebook.
Speaking of tech, China is banning online gamers under the age of 18 from playing on weekdays and limiting their play to just three hours most weekends. This marks an increase in restrictions on the country’s massive gaming industry.
And red-heads of the world united over the weekend! Hundreds people from all over the world with ginger hair, as the British say, gathered at a festival in the Netherlands, celebrating their shimmering locks of red hair.
LEELA: Thanks for that whippity-zippity-zappity wrap of world news, Mama. And now we need a little bit of this…
SPORTS STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “It’s time to play ball… Score… Sports News!”
LEELA: So, Mama, remember that story we did a few months ago about the wooden bats they still use in Major League Baseball?
MAMA: Yeah, when we were talking about the new bamboo bats that were being proposed for use by the players of professional cricket – that other bat and ball game – invented by the English.
LEELA: And played in India, Australia, South Africa and the Caribbean, among other places.
LEELA: Well there’s a pitcher from the US Olympic baseball team who wants the Major League to use a new, different kind of baseball.
MAMA: Huh. OK, well what makes it so new and “different?” It’s not made out of bamboo, is it?
LEELA: No. But so many things are – we could do a whole episode on that! Anyway this new ball is all about consistency and playing fair.
LEELA: Yeah, you know, like not a lot variation – you can always expect the same-‘ol-same-‘ol.
MAMA: OK. I guess you’d want to expect the same thing from every ball on the pitch.
LEELA: Exactly. Well, for more on this we need to go to our US sports correspondent, Porter Robbins.
PORTER: Thanks, Leela.
So just about every professional pitcher thinks the baseballs used in the major leagues are slick, hard to get a good grip and, just overall, inconsistent.
In other words, baseball has a ball problem.
Well, the starting pitcher for the US Olympic baseball team, Joe Ryan, got his hands on an alternative ball in Tokyo and now everyone is talking about this new ball.
Ryan said the ball was “consistent” and didn’t need any “foreign substance” on it to make it “go where you throw it.”
LEELA: Uh… What does this Ryan dude mean by “foreign substance?”
PORTER: Well, Leela, we have to go back in time for that one.
SFX OF WORDS BACKWARDS
PORTER: You see, because of the ball problem, it became acceptable for pitchers to use “spitballs” to get a better grip.
LEELA: Ewww. What’s that?
PORTER: You know, they’d spit a little saliva onto the ball. Usually mixed with the chewing tobacco in their mouth, otherwise known as “tobacco juice.”
PORTER: Yeah, sometimes they’d even sneak on some petroleum jelly, you know, Vaseline.
LEELA: But, why?
PORTER: Well, these “foreign substances” make the ball spin at crazy-fast rates, which made hitting the balls more difficult.
LEELA: Ah, got it.
PORTER: But for the last several years, there’s been a lot of debate about doing this.
So this new ball could be the solution – Ryan says it gives good grip without needing any “extra help.”
LEELA: So who makes these new baseballs?
PORTER: Well, it’s a Japanese manufacturing company called, SSK though they operate out of Sri Lanka, not far from you in India.
Ryan, who’s been selected to play for the Minnesota Twins by the way, said he’d bring some of these baseballs back to the States.
He’s hoping they’ll become the ball of choice to replace the current baseball made by Rawlings.
But… we’ll see.
Things always move more slowly OFF the pitch than they do on it.
LEELA: Well we know you’ll be keeping your “eye on the ball,” Porter! Thanks a lot for this story.
LEELA: And finally, let’s head over to the Lucky Dip machine and see what it spits out this week!
ODDBALL STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “Step right up, step right up… Have a go at the lucky dip machine… What’s it gonna be today, eh? An oddball, no doubt!”
LEELA: Odd animal, in fact – and more than one. Yes, folks, there are two oddball stories coming out of the lucky dip machine today.
MAMA: Eww la la – two-for-the-price-of-one!
LEELA: Actually, more like ewe la la – ewe as in a female sheep. Dozens of them in fact. Showing lots of love. A heart-full, to be precise.
MAMA: Uh, what?
LEELA: OK. Start the music and I’ll start at the beginning.
LEELA: Once upon a time, just a few days ago, there was a sheep farmer in Australia who – like so many of us – wasn’t able to see his family some 250 miles away because of pandemic travel restrictions.
SFX OF COUNTRYSIDE
Even, sadly, when his beloved aunt died after battling cancer for two years.
Since he couldn’t go to the funeral, guess what he did to show his love instead?
He grabbed bucketfuls of grain and headed to his fields, where he carefully scattered the grain-feed along the ground in the shape of – you guessed it! – a heart.
SFX OF SHEEP
So when he opened the gate to his massive flock of sheep, they – quite literally – filled his heart.
MAMA: Ahhh – that’s so sweet!
LEELA: Of course the result was captured on video by a drone – we’ll put a link to that on our Facebook page – and it was played at his aunt’s funeral.
And for something equally uplifting – and again, I mean literally uplifting – here’s a story from Switzerland about stranded cows.
During summer, when the snow on the Swiss Alps melts, the cows start wandering everywhere.
Up the paths, around tight corners, over streams and through wooded valleys.
Sometimes the poor things get injured along the way and wander off so far they can’t get home in time for the parade.
MAMA: The cows have a parade?
LEELA: Yeah, every year there’s a “parade of cows” – you know, the cows are paraded down the street – in Uri, which is a canton in the middle of the country.
LEELA: That’s what Switzerland, officially known as the Swiss Confederation by the way, calls states..
How’s that for a couple of fab facts?
Now – back to the bovine (another word for animals in the cattle group, by the way – whew, I’m on a roll!).
Well, some of these injured cows got stuck in pastures that can’t be reached by car.
SFX OF CAR
LEELA: Oh, poor things. So herding them back down the mountain in time for the parade, not to mention before the colder weather sets in –
SFX OF COLD WIND
LEELA: – is out of the question.
SFX OF HELICOPTER
LEELA: Enter the rescue team.
Yes, the cows were harnessed with super-strong mesh, attached to a super-strong cable, attached to a helicopter and then lifted up, up and away.
Over the Alps and back down to safety. Whew – what a view!
MAMA: In time for the parade.
LEELA: In time for the parade indeed. You should see the pictures – ad-or-able! Yes – we’ll put a link in our transcript and on our Facebook page.
MAMA: Which you really should join, if you haven’t already!
LEELA: Totally. See. I told you it was an uplifting story, didn’t I?
And don’t forget, if you want to test yourself later on, then go to the Lucky Dip page of our website, newsyjacuzzi.com, and take this quiz online in your own time!
FAB FACTS STING – LEELA: “And it’s time to wrap up the podcast with the top five fab facts heard today. Here goes…”
MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 1 – Scientists in Egypt have discovered the 43 million-year-old fossil of a previously unknown four-legged whale species. What is a fossil exactly?
A fossil is the remains or impression of a prehistoric plant or animal embedded in rock and preserved in petrified form.
LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – Despite living in the water, whales breathe air. And like humans, they are warm-blooded mammals who do what to their young?
Whales nurse, or breastfeed, their young
MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – Baseball has a ball problem, which means it was once common – though not exactly “legal” in the game – for pitchers to use “spitballs” to get a better grip. What are those?
Spitballs are when you put saliva, often mixed with chewing tobacco, onto a ball.
LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – Injured cows recently had to be airlifted to safety in Switzerland, which is officially known as what?
MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – And what is another word for animals in the cattle group?
And don’t forget, if you want to test yourself later on, then go to the Lucky Dip page of our website, newsyjacuzzi.com, and take this quiz online in your own time!
LEELA: And that brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Pooloozi!!!!!
If you enjoyed this dip in the whirlpool of news and information then do subscribe to our podcast on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, Radio Public, Podcast Republic or wherever you get your podcasts. That way you never miss an episode.
And – by the way – have you told a friend of yours about Newsy Pooloozi? Well, what are you waiting for? Go on – spread some whirling-swirling curiosity!
Alrighty then – see you next week in the Newsy Pooloozi!