Shocking Tales Wild & Weird


Shocking Tales

Tim and Naomi search the natural world for all things weird. They check out a man that got struck by lightning and a secret in the swamps of South America.


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# Wormy fish-killers Convoys of caterpillars

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# Super-clever brainless slime... Ugh!

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# Bunny-rabbit swarms, raging storms

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# And pigs that swim at dinner time

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# Tornadoes of fire Starfish going haywire

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# Algae balls from space! What?!

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# Prairie dogs that chat Birds going splat

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# And fish slapping in your face

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# They're wild and weird Wild and weird

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# Really, really wild and really, really weird

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# They're wild and weird Wild and weird

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# They're really, really wild and really, really wild and weird... #

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We've got an electrifying show for you today,

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as we meet a man who got a shock while tending to his pumpkins.

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-A never-ending storm that...

-Never ends?

-Yeah, how did you guess?

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And there's a shocking secret lurking in the swamps

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of South America.

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Argh-ah-ah-ah!

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Tim, got to get the washing in!

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The storm's coming!

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-Here's the basket.

-Yeah. And?

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-It's your turn.

-It's your turn.

-It's YOUR turn.

-It's YOUR turn.

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-Oh!

-Yes!

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I might get struck by lightning!

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Well, according to the Journal Of Lightning Research...

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This is an actual publication - it's a shocking read!

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Yeah, it says here - the odds of getting hit by lightning are

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one in well over a million.

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-So you've got nothing to worry about.

-I'll put my rubber boots on.

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Oh! No, I wouldn't do that. Why are you doing that?

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-You're supposed to wear rubber soles, I thought.

-No.

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"Rubber boots offer no protection in a lightning storm."

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That's what it says. Yeah.

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"An umbrella, however, increases the risk of being struck."

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Huh. Who'd have thought?

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Go on, you'll be fine. The odds are well and truly on your side.

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Go on, trust me.

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THUNDERCLAP

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Ooh!

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Should have mentioned, actually,

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it also says that the chances of being struck

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are significantly higher

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if you are near or even up a tree.

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Probably best that you didn't go outside.

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Now he tells me(!)

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Hey, it does say here though about a shocking tale from Texas in 2011.

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-Oh?

-Yeah.

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TV SWITCHES ON

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-Thanks.

-Go on, clean yourself up a bit.

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Whilst his girlfriend Daphne was working out of town,

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electrician Winston Kemp spent a weekend in the garden,

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tending to his prize pumpkins.

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My mind was pretty much on the pumpkins.

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-Cor, he really does love pumpkins, doesn't he?

-Mm-hm.

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But it turned out to be

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a very weird weekend for Winston.

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When Daphne returned, he had something very strange to show her.

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-A checked shirt?

-No.

-Oh.

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It's what was under the shirt -

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an impossibly intricate work of art on his arm.

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When it happened, I was back home in St Angelo, visiting my family.

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When I came back, I saw his arm

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and I took a picture

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and I posted it online and I asked,

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"So, what does your boyfriend do when you go out of town?

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"Well, this is what happens to mine!"

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That looks like a fake tattoo. Or henna.

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A lot of people thought it was a fake.

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They thought it was like henna or a tattoo.

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But Winston hadn't made an ill-advised trip

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to the tattoo parlour.

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No, what had actually happened was far weirder.

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That weekend, a massive storm hit Texas.

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I was trying to save my pumpkins from all the rain we were having,

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so I went outside to try and divert some of the water away from them.

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I heard a really loud noise and I saw a flash.

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There was a lot of shock

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and my arm started to burn.

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Winston had been struck by lightning.

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-What?! No!

-Yes.

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Struck by lightning?!

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-Awesome, eh?

-No! It's really dangerous!

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It could kill you! It could kill him!

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-Oh, goodness! It didn't kill him, did it?

-No, course it didn't.

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-We filmed an interview with him.

-Oh, yeah.

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So, if he didn't die, what did happen?

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Well...

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rather than killing him,

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Winston had been left with a remarkable temporary tattoo,

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a bizarre branching pattern, etched from shoulder to elbow.

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Explain.

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Well, it was raining heavily that night

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and a layer of water was running across his skin.

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When lightning struck,

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thousands of volts of electricity discharged through the water,

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bypassing his vital organs and, instead,

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dispersing across the surface of his skin.

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Heat and pressure created what's known as a Lichtenberg figure.

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The pattern on his arm showed exactly where the lightning moved

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as it found the path of least resistance.

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-Are you still confused?

-A little.

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I've got a demo set up in the lab, if you think it will help.

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-Oh, yes, please.

-Yeah, all right. Just let me collect a few things.

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-Oh, and it's worth noting something as well.

-Do not try this at home?

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-Yeah, how did you know?

-Oh, just a wild stab in the dark.

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Well, you should know, safety never takes a day off.

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Oh! Back in a minute.

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I'm all right.

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# Danger, danger... #

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To demonstrate how this happens,

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let's substitute rain with a metal Faraday suit.

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-Ooh, very fetching!

-Thank you.

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Now, metal and water are more conductive than skin,

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so if you're fully covered lightning will flow around you!

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Ooh, it tickles! It's called the skin effect.

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And it's why I'm able to play with...lightning-ng-ng-ng.

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And it's also why Winston didn't get killed

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and ended up with a nice pattern on his arm.

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I'm like the Emperor out of Star Wars.

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-Woo!

-Ha-ha.

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That Winston is one lucky man.

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Yeah, and he makes an awesome pumpkin soup too.

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-Mm.

-Oh.

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You know, I guess the next time he tends to his pumpkins,

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he can be reassured by the old adage

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that lightning never strikes twice in the same place.

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-Mm. Not exactly true that, Tim.

-Really?

-Mm.

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-TV SWITCHES ON

-Hands off, Warwood.

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It's mine!

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This is the Catatumbo region in Venezuela.

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-What, there?! Looks like an idyllic, tranquil haven.

-During the day, yes.

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But every evening, the atmosphere changes dramatically!

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It's one of the world's most violent and frightening natural spectacles.

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But don't take my word for it.

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Well, whose word are we going to take?

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These storms are so frequent,

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they happen on such a regular basis and for such a long period of time,

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they've been nicknamed Everlasting Storms.

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Liz Bentley, that's who!

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The storms develop about 160 days of the year,

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and we can see, well, 280 strikes of lightning in just an hour.

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I know.

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Brilliant!

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And the local fishermen actually use it

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as a way of directing themselves back into shore.

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This is the Eternal Lightning Storm of Catatumbo.

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It's been going on for centuries and it's the stuff of legend.

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So, what's going on in Catatumbo, then,

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that makes all these ferocious storms everlasting?

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Well, it's all down to geography.

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Oh! Geography. I hate geography.

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Worst subject ever!

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-Well, I've got some graphics. Would that help?

-Yeah.

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Being located just above the Equator,

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Catatumbo's weather is pretty much the same all year round,

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with a constant supply of warm, moist air

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blowing in from the Caribbean Sea.

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It's also supplied with a constant source of cold air

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that cascades down from the snow-capped mountains

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that surround the area on three sides.

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But the final and vital ingredient

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that creates these never-ending storms

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arises because of a massive lake nearby.

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Now, see the red arrows?

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JETS BLAST Whoa! Bye!

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-Love them.

-No, not out there.

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The graphic red arrows on the screen!

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Oh, right.

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Well, they're massive.

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During the day,

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the hot, tropical sun

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evaporates huge volumes of water

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from the lake,

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represented by the graphic red arrows.

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Nice!

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But every night, winds rush in

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from the mountains.

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They're known as a low-level jet.

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Which is why these storms develop from about midnight

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and then drop away at dawn time

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when this low-level jet just dissipates.

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So the location really pulls all the ingredients together

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to make this the perfect storm-generating system.

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Yeah, everlasting storms. I'll give you that.

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But, you know, it's not always danger from above

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that you've got to worry about.

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-No?

-Oh, no, sister.

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You see, lurking in some of the muddy rivers and swamps

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of South America, there's a shocking secret.

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TV SWITCHES ON

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They are legendarily unpleasant to encounter.

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They have a fearsome reputation

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and it's pretty well earned.

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-It's not your agent, is it?

-Quiet. Don't interrupt Ken.

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The local fishermen call them "arimna",

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which means to deprive of motion.

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In 2013, in South America,

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one unlucky fisherman discovered first-hand

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whilst reeling in his line.

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Argh-ah-ah-ah!

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HE GASPS AND SHE LAUGHS

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-is it wrong to want to watch that again?

-No!

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-Not at all. Plus we've got slow-mo, look.

-Oh, good.

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'Argh-ah-ah-ah!'

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-Was he all right?

-Yeah, he's not dead, so don't worry, it's fine.

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-So, what happened?

-Well...

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Argh-ah-ah-ah!

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He caught an Electrophorus electricus, otherwise known as...

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-An electric eel! I did Latin at school.

-Ooh, get you!

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The obvious thing about them

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is they're giving off this unusual force,

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what I kind of call the weapons of mass destruction.

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In terms of voltage, they can give off 600 volts for a very large eel.

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It's a very significant current.

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Yeah, a very significant current.

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-You have no idea what that means, do you?

-I do actually.

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It's enough to do this.

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Argh-ah-ah-ah!

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# Dizzy, my head is spinning... #

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Ha-ha! Every time!

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-Question.

-Go on.

-How?

-Ah.

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All muscle cells can generate some electricity.

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Think of a heart monitor.

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That spike is a wave of electric charge, generated by a muscle.

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But electric eels have evolved a way of amping up their muscle cells

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to create a massive charge -

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a shock powerful enough to immobilise a horse.

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-What?!

-I know!

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Ken's fascination with electric eels

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led him to make a ground-breaking discovery.

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It's using electricity to reach into other animals' nervous systems

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and activate the neurons in their bodies as a way of remote control.

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It's just phenomenal.

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Imagine that, being able to remote-control an animal nearby.

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I know. I'd like to think of myself though being made of stronger stuff.

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Yeah, nothing could control me. RADIO CRACKLES

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Whoa! That's cool! What's that? ELECTRIC SIZZLES

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Argh! Oh! Argh! Naomi, what are...? Ha-ha, OK, stop that now.

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Naomi...

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Ooh!

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Er, while you're up, Tim, be a love, make me a cup of tea.

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TV SWITCHES ON

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Er, Tim, can you do that talky-commentary thing you do?

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I've got no idea what's going on.

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What's on the screen?

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-The man that keeps falling over.

-Oh, right.

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Er, well, the eel mimics the signals running through your own nerves,

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so you can't even control your own body.

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Argh-ah-ah-ah!

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A bit like him. And me.

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And if you're a fish in the Amazon,

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nowhere is safe from the eel's electrical weaponry.

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-KETTLE WHISTLES Do you want sugar?

-Yes, please.

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Oh, this is ridiculous. Ken, take over.

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Say you're hidden in the mud, for example,

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what it does is it gives off two of these pulses.

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And what that causes is a massive whole-body involuntary twitch.

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You can't help it,

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because your nervous system is remotely activated.

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And the eel, in turn, is very sensitive to water movement,

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so it detects that twitch and then it's game over.

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# Shock, shock, horror, horror

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# Shock, shock, horror... #

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-Ah!

-Here you go.

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Thank you. Ooh! I love this remote control!

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Yeah, I think you've had enough fun for one day.

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IT BEEPS AND BUZZES Oh! Naomi! Awww!

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What does this button do?

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-IT BEEPS

-Oh.

-Oh, just you wait!

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Can you check if it's still raining for me, please?

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Yeah, I think...

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THUNDERCLAP

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I think it's safe to say it's still raining.

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I think I'll stay inside.

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See you next time.

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# The female of the species is more deadly than the male... #

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# They're wild and weird Wild and weird

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# Really, really wild and really, really weird

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# They're wild and weird Wild and weird

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# They're really, really wild and really, really wild and weird

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# Wild and weird! #

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Tim Warwood and Naomi Wilkinson introduce a shocking collection of weird clips from the natural world, this time featuring a man that got struck by lightning, an everlasting storm and a shocking secret lurking in the swamps of South America.


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