Random bits of weirdness for the week of Jan. 13

Exposed graves

This is not as comfortable as it looks: First we perish in the cold. Now we’re getting crushed and gawked at because y’all weren’t content with Hell being the only warm place for us.

It’s bad enough climate change is screwing things up for pretty much every form of life in Svalbard, but now it’s keeping even the dead from resting in peace. Wetter and warmer climates are exposing and/or threatening to wash away the graves of roughly a thousand whalers in the archipelago, according to The National Committee for Research Ethics on Human Remains (a.k.a. the Skeletal Committee – really). The whalers, who came mostly from the Netherlands and England during the 1600-1700’s, were often buried at the tip of now-eroding beach ridges. “Norway has a duty to take care of these cultural monuments, which are not found elsewhere,” said Snorre Haukalid, The Governor of Svalbard’s cultural heritage advisor, in an interview with NRK. “While ordinary people clothes and objects are lost in the rest of Europe, the permafrost preserved them here.” The Skeletal Committee has sent a letter to the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage expressing concern there is no plan or money to preserve the graves, but the governor’s office has received permission to excavate remains from some graves on Bjørnøya that will be preserved…

Ice sex study

OMG! Lots of filthy sex is happening under those covers: And scientists are spending lots of time keeping a really close watch.

Luckily, Svalbard also happens to be in a period of fertility for certain life forms, according to an Ice-Blog post with the clickbait title “Food and sex in Svalbard’s icy waters”. Irene Quaile, an environmental journalist participating in a research voyage aboard the Helmer Hanssen, notes “nocturnal goings-on” of the native marine life are “not for the faint-hearted, so I won’t go into details … Presumably it’s not like with human beings, where there tends to be a rise in the birth-rate after major power cuts in some places. So why would sea creatures choose to have their young in the cold, dark, polar winter?” Being a tease, she says experts have given her answers, but she’s not sharing them until the second (or beyond) date.

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