QUIRKY WORLD ... A daily look at some of the world’s stranger stories

Trail of Red Riding Hood traced

ENGLAND: Little Red Riding Hood may be commonly depicted as pale-skinned and blonde but she has distant relatives in Africa and Asia, research has shown.

Scientists traced the folk tale’s evolutionary tree and found links with similar stories as far away as China, Japan and Korea.

Just as humans and chimpanzees share an ancient ancestor, all these tales arose from a common source, experts believe.

The Wolf and the Kids, a story dating back to the first century AD and popular in Europe and the Middle East, tells of a wolf that impersonates a nanny goat and devours her offspring.

Some 1,000 years later the wolf was still cast in the role of the villain, but the nanny goat was transformed into Red Riding Hood’s grandmother.

Other branches of the story led to Red Riding Hood variants in Africa and Asia, where the wolf is replaced by an ogre or tiger.

Scientists followed the trail of Little Red Riding Hood using techniques normally used by biologists to group together closely related organisms and place them on a “tree of life” mapping their evolution.

They subjected 58 stories to the process, known as phylogenetic analysis.

The researchers focused on 72 plot variables, such as the characters of the protagonist and villain, the tricks used by the villain to deceive the victim, and whether the victim is eaten, escapes or is rescued.

Superhero auction

ENGLAND: A rare Superman comic specially commissioned by a British property tycoon to mark his son’s 13th birthday is to be auctioned.

Godfrey Bradman paid £10,000 in 1988 to get the DC Comics team to make a special edition featuring his son Daniel and some friends and family. Around 200 copies of the comic — said to be the most specialised custom-created comic made by the team — were printed.

One of them is now expected to fetch up to £2,000 when it goes under the hammer at Catherine Southon Auctioneers and Valuers Ltd in Surrey on Nov 20. The comic is being sold by an anonymous former worker for the family who forgot all about it after being given it as a gift.

Didgeri-don’t

USA: A man has been arrested in the US accused of bashing a taxi with a didgeridoo in a row over the fare.

The passenger fell asleep during a 20-minute ride to his home in southern California and when they arrived argued with the driver over the fare.

He went into the house and came out with a didgeridoo — the long, wooden instrument from Australia — and threatened the driver with it. The cab drove off, but he chased it and hit it several times with the didgeridoo.

Still here

VIETNAM: One of the rarest and most threatened mammals on Earth has been caught on camera in Vietnam for the first time in 15 years, renewing hope for the recovery of the species.

The saola, a long-horned ox, was photographed by the automatic camera in a forest in central Vietnam in September.

The animal was discovered in the remote areas of high mountains near the border with Laos in 1992 and proved to be the first large mammal new to science in more than 50 years and one of only seven types of large mammal to be discovered in 20th century.

USA: A parrot sanctuary and the 80 birds it holds is facing closure in the US state of Rhode Island after the building was listed for demolition in a redevelopment.

Owner Steve Lazicki said he was worried about his flock’s future. “They’re my kids. They’re very intelligent. They need a lot of attention. People often buy a parrot without any idea of what they’re getting into.”


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