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World Briefs

A world full of crocodiles

New fossils unearthed in the Sahara desert reveal a once-swampy world divided up among a half-dozen species of unusual and perhaps intelligent crocodiles, researchers reported yesterday.

They have given some of the new species snappy names - BoarCroc, RatCroc, DogCroc, DuckCroc and PancakeCroc - but say their findings help build an understanding of how crocodilians were and remain such a successful life form. They lived during the Cretaceous period 145 million to 65 million years ago, when the continents were closer together and the world warmer and wetter than it is now. Paleontologist Hans Larsson of McGill University in Montreal, said, "Each of the crocs apparently had different diets, different behaviours."

Mr Larsson and Paul Sereno of the University of Chicago, funded by National Geographic, studied the jaws, teeth and what few bones they had of the crocodiles. They also did CT scans to see inside the skulls. They concluded some crocodiles walked upright with their legs under the body like a land mammal instead of sprawled out to the sides, bellies touching the ground. (Reuters)

Blind faith

A Catholic shrine in Maryland thought it had been blessed with a big donation when a worker found £24,000 of rare coins on the grounds.

But officials at Mount St Mary's University then discovered that the bags of money had only been left at the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes for safekeeping.

The owner returned to retrieve them about a week later telling staff she wanted the Blessed Virgin Mary to watch over her treasure while she was out of town. (PA)

Fire resistant straw

A house made of straw and hemp panels has passed a fire resistance test where it was exposed to temperatures over 1,000°C, a university said.

Balehaus @ Bath - built of pre-fabricated straw-bale and hemp sections - has fire resistance "as good as houses built of conventional building materials", according to new research.

One of the panels used in the construction was exposed to the searing heat by the University of Bristol team. To reach the required standard the panel had to withstand the heat for more than 30 minutes. Over two hours later - four times as long as required - the panel had still not failed. (PA)

Kingly auction

A model of King Kong is expected to scale the dizzying heights of up to £150,000 when it goes under the hammer.

The figure, which featured in the original 1933 epic film, will go on sale at Christie's in London later this month.

The ape skeleton was used to climb the Empire State Building in the film's poignant and climactic final scenes. (PA)

Sting claims he saw ghost

Sting has claimed he once confronted a ghost which wandered into his room at the dead of night.

The singer said wife Trudie Styler also witnessed the figure, standing with a child in the corner of their bedroom.

In an interview to be aired by Radio 2 today at 10 p.m. Sting said: "I would never have said I believe in ghosts, until I saw one - and I've seen a ghost with my own eyes. I was in bed one night, a very old house I used to live in. And I woke up at three in the morning, bolt upright, looked into the corner of the room and thought I saw Trudie standing there with a child - our child - in her arms, staring at me.

"And I thought 'well, that's strange - why is she standing in a corner, staring at me?'. And I then reached next to me and there was Trudie, and I suddenly got this terrible chill. And she woke up and said 'Gosh, who is that?' and she saw this woman and a child in the corner of the room." (PA)

Baby gets car's name

A couple revealed the unusual birthplace that inspired their baby girl's name - not Brooklyn or Paris ... but a people carrier.

Luckily for her parents Tony Richardson, 24, and Samantha Smyth, 23, it was not a Volkswagen or a Honda but a seven-seat Kia Carens.

Ms Smyth, a mother-of-three from Poole in Dorset, went into labour at 2 a.m. on a Sunday and called her mother for a lift to hospital.

But little Kia could not wait and popped out as they arrived at Poole Hospital at 4.30 a.m. (PA)

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