Thursday, August 7, 2008

Slack Jawed Ninny

This crazy looking bird is one of the greatest of modern scientific head scratchers - a true wonder of the scientific world.

The Ninny gets its name from its powerful jaw, which, once clenched and locked, cannot be removed by any known method short of laser surgery. Predators and humans alike think the bird harmless - until the powerful clenched jaw is locked permanently on their arm. The bite itself is not deadly, but victims often die from shock and infection before a laser can be found.

The Ninny was an internet sensation last year, when a pirated video appeared on U-Tube showing a contestant from America's Top Model petting the bird on a photo shoot, only to suddenly find the creature locked onto her nose. While the episode never made it to air, and the contestant was sent home (after getting the creature lasered off), the video was enormously popular on blogs and web sites, and boosted the show's ratings ten fold.

The Slack Jawed Ninny lives exclusively in bodies of water near Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania and Indian Point, New York, yet it is not native to either habitat. Approximately 25 years ago, in one of the greatest mysteries of modern science, the Ninny suddenly began appearing in the area. Where did these birds come from? Why did they choose these particular habitats for their home? Why have we never seen them before? What is their natural habitat? The truth is, scientists just don't know.

But they've dedicated themselves to finding out. With their massive endowment, Princeton University has set up special research universities at both locations and launched a 30-year study designed to answer this very question. The University considers it so important that they're re-purposed several bequests that were originally intended for the investigation of rickets and the cure of Hysteria.

Until they finish their work, we'll just have to continue to speculate.

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