Thu, Oct 23, 2003 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Australia
Oldest vertebrate found

A fossil believed to be the oldest vertebrate fossil ever found has been discovered in Australia, a paleontologist said yesterday. The fossil resembles an elongated tadpole. It is thought to be at least 560 million years old, at least 30 million years older than the next oldest vertebrate, a fossil discovered in China several years ago, Jim Gehling told national radio. It was found in South Australia's Flinders Ranges in sandstone by a farm owner, he said.

■ Australia

Police probe art `porn'

Police in Australia have investigated pornography claims against an art gallery which exhibited a painting drawn from a 19th-century woodcut by the Japanese artist Hokusai. The painting, The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife, is by an Australian, David Laity, and is valued at US$9,000. It is being shown in a Melbourne gallery. Like the 1814 original, it depicts a woman copulating with an octopus. Laity said: "It's a really lovely wild image. It's meant to be a dream image." The gallery's director, Brian Kino, said: "Haven't people progressed in 200 years that they're still shocked by this sort of thing?" After taking legal advice, the police agreed that the painting could be shown.

■ Japan

Man fakes royal wedding

A Japanese man has been arrested for fraud after he duped hundreds into believing he had royal blood and staged an extravagant wedding, collecting ?12.7 million (US$115,000) in gift money, officials said Tuesday. Yasuyuki Kitano, 41, and his two co-conspirators, Harumi Sakamoto, 45, who pretended to be his bride and 42-year-old Shinya Kusunoki, were arrested Monday, a Tokyo Metropolitan police spokesman said on condition of anonymity. More than 350 guests attended the spectacle that the trio mounted in April at an exclusive Tokyo club with convincing knockoffs of traditional imperial wedding robes.

■ Australia

Conservationist charged

The award-winning producer of British TV's wildlife series Survival was charged with wildlife smuggling by a court in Perth, Western Australia, on Tuesday. Mike Linley was arrested at Perth international airport on Tuesday allegedly carrying more than 200 live reptiles, frogs and lizards in his luggage. The animals were spotted as his two suitcases were X-rayed after customs officers were tipped off by a member of the public. The haul, believed to be Western Australia's biggest seizure of smuggled wildlife, included frogs, frilled neck lizards, geckos, skinks, bearded dragons and cockroaches.

■ New Zealand

Duck blamed for foul odor

A very relieved female duck is being blamed for an intriguing mystery in which a New Zealand house was splattered with a foul smelling substance. A house under the main flight path into the capital city Wellington was splattered with the material two months ago, prompting the owners to complain to the Civil Aviation Authority, claiming an aircraft toilet load had been dumped on them. But after a month of investigation, Department of Conservation water foul biologist Murray Williams said the material came from a single female duck. "She's been incubating on a nest. She will not have relieved herself for several hours, anything up to 12 hours," he told Radio New Zealand. "The first thing she wants to do when she flies off is void all that material, and she will do it at some distance away as she flies away from the nest."

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