Crocodile found under school floorboards goes on display

A 120-year-old crocodile discovered under the floorboards of a school classroom in Wales has gone on display.

The remains of the giant saltwater crocodile, which were found by workmen in June 2019, have been meticulously conserved.

Pupils at Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Bodringallt in Pentre, Rhondda Cynon Taf, arrived at school on Wednesday to view the new display after restoration of the skeleton was completed over Christmas.

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council worked with Pure Conservation, a Welsh company with expertise in conservation for heritage collections, to restore the remains.

An inspection of the crocodile’s bones by Pure Conservation dates it back to before the 1900s.

A story about a crocodile being associated with the school has been told across many generations.

The tale describes a local person who served in the First World War bringing back the body of a crocodile as a souvenir for the school.

It is thought that the crocodile was put on display but then hidden beneath the floorboards to protect it during later times of conflict.

Conservator Dr Victoria Purewal and artist Annette Marie Townsend, who specialises in natural history, worked on safely restoring the crocodile from September 2019 to December 2021.

The crocodile had suffered significant damage having been left unprotected for potentially 100 years.

Its entire underside was missing, along with its feet and the base of its tail, while its teeth had fallen out and its general condition was very poor.

The entire body was initially frozen to remove pests and was tested for dangerous materials, before the crocodile was wet cleaned.

The process has involved meticulously dry cleaning the crocodile’s entire body, with separate pieces vacuumed to remove dirt, cobwebs and soil.

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Tiny gecko survives 4,800-mile trip from China to UK among musical instruments

A stowaway gecko survived inside a box of musical instruments for three months as it travelled 4,800 miles from China to the UK.

The 10cm gecko, nicknamed Thin Lizard by RSPCA staff, was discovered at a musical instrument importing company in Maidstone, Kent, on Monday last week – having been sealed in an ocean shipping container in October.

The RSPCA’s Clive Hopwood came to the rescue and collected the Asian house gecko, which is now in the care of the charity’s Brighton Reptile Rescue.

“The staff were unpacking a box when the little gecko scuttled out,” Mr Hopwood explained.

“The box had been part of a shipment that had travelled over from China in a sealed ocean shipping container in October, but the box wasn’t unpacked until three months later.”

Mr Hopwood said it is “amazing” that the gecko survived the trip.

“It’s amazing that this little gecko survived such a long journey and such a long time shut inside the sealed packaging but they were able to confine him and then called us for help”.

“I took Thin Lizard to our experts at Brighton Reptile Rescue who have identified him as an Asian house gecko and will find him a specialist home.”

The RSPCA said that Thin Lizard was lucky to survive as reptiles are ectothermic, meaning they rely on their environment to warm up or cool down as needed.

The charity hopes his journey will remind holidaymakers to always give their suitcases a thorough check before flying home.

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Vilarinho da Furna

In 1971 Vilarinho da Furna was flooded, in the Peneda-Gerês National Park. The village was inhabited by about 300 people, who had to move to neighbouring towns. Nostalgia is felt by many whenever the waters recede as they remember the village as it was originally built, with granite dwellings, characteristic of the region.

The drought has also affected some localities in Spain, namely in the region of Galicia. The Lindoso dam began receiving water in 1992, flooding five villages in the area. Now, the extreme drought has meant that the dam has only 20 percent of its full capacity, revealing the old dwellings.

The localities are now exposed and people have been heading to the dams, which are now practically empty, to visit the places that are described as ghostly.

In some places, the authorities are banning visits, due to the lack of security that some areas may present.

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Vilar da Amoreira

Located in the district of Coimbra, the dam located in the parish of Portela do Fojo, in Pampilhosa da Serra, is one of the largest dams in Portugal. Vilar de Amoreira was the village that disappeared with the construction of the dam. Submerged by the river Zêzere, the ruins of a village that has been underwater since 1954, whenever the water level drops can be seen.

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Drought revealing underwater ghost towns Portugal is going through one of the most complicated drought periods on record. The water level in the dams has dropped at a rapid rate, revealing the once flooded villages and towns.

The construction of dams in some cases implies the submersion of villages and Portugal carried out these works in some localities of the country. In the inhabited areas, villages were rebuilt, or housing was offered to those whose properties were submerged in the creating of the dams.

Currently, due to the effects of the severe drought that the country has been going through, some of these villages are emerging.

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Acting fast

“We want to later create protocols of effective collaboration with the Air Force and the Republican National Guard (GNR) to reach the isolated cases that may occur in the interior of the country,” he said, justifying that the purpose is to “act fast and make a more effective clearance”.

Vítor Moreira stressed that the team has already developed “a work of assessment of events that were relevant last year”, which resulted in the Annual Report of Occurrences, in which “no case was given as extraordinary”, having existed an explanation and scientific validation for the 19 sighted events.

“Mostly, the percentage of cases explained involves drone technology as well as various types of balloons,” said the official.

Vítor Moreira stressed that CIFA hopes next year to present “a more consistent and accurate model” of the reports received, projecting for 2023 to continue working “not with hypotheses, but with certainty”.

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No conspiracy therories

“Currently there is a need to clarify the population and foster a more balanced opinion of what these phenomena are,” he argued, adding that CIFA “is not based on conspiracy theories”.

Founded in July 2021 by a team of researchers who studied these phenomena in the 1980s and 1990s, CIFA is currently composed of a multidisciplinary team that includes lawyers, engineers, journalists and law enforcement officers.

The investigation of aerospace phenomena triggered by the centre is based on archives – physical and digital – as well as documents and reports from other organisations that have been collected “behind the scenes and anonymously” since 2018.

In addition to documentation, CIFA’s work is also based on information released in the Portuguese media, an “important source” on which the team will also focus its attentions, confronting it with the knowledge of other entities such as the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA).

“In Portugal, there are almost 2,000 records of extraordinary events. We have very reliable case histories, but it’s still a story. We know that narratives are narratives and we want to go further”, he stressed.

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UFO’s being studied in Vila do Conde

A group of former researchers have created the Center for Investigation of Aerospace Phenomena (CIFA), in Vila do Conde, in the district of Porto, which aims to study “extraordinary” phenomena.

Speaking to Lusa News Agency, Vítor Moreira, one of the founders and president of CIFA, clarified that the intention is to “study and investigate extraordinary phenomena” that occur in the country and their “scientific validation”.

“We are not going to chase lights, nor identify phenomena at a great distance”, referred Vítor Moreira, stressing that the objective is to treat “with seriousness” the extraordinary aerospace phenomena and help the population to understand them.

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