These ubiquitous denizens of the seaside are notorious for their incessant squawking and scavenging.
They can be pesky critters too as they prefer a fish-and-chips diet, so beachgoers must remain vigilant lest a gull swoops in to steal their food. Seagulls otherwise prey on a wide range of creatures on both land and from the sea, including rodents.
But a rabbit? That would surely be for Gulls with eyes bigger than their stomachs.
In the clip below a Great Black-backed Gull is filmed devouring a live rabbit whole. It isn’t even a baby but is at least adolescent – a third of the bird’s size.
Cow Chomps on Snake
The endless, monotonous diet of grass got too much for one cow in Australia. With the deceptively cute name of Ginger, it seems she developed a bloodlust. Her confused owner caught her chomping on a small snake like a string of spaghetti, below.
This bizarre dietary perversion is explained as when a herbivore doesn’t get enough protein in their diet, they’ll seldom snack on a snake to compensate.
Tortoise Chows Down on Bird
This one is really freaky. On the Seychelles a conservationist recorded something unknown for a tortoise to do. Although small dead animals make up a tortoise’s diet, the clip below shows one of these lumbering homesteads on legs stalk a chick for seven minutes before killing it. The bird was too young and dumb to fly or hop away.
What is so unique about this is how the turtle hunts its prey. And a bird of all things!
Monkey Beats Seagull to Death
At Chester Zoo in England, a monkey acted out a parody of a famous film scene. In King Kong the great ape scales a Manhattan skyscraper to snatch at encircling biplane fighters, spectacularly destroying one in the process.
Visitors to the zoo captured evocative footage of a monkey clutching a hapless gull it had apparently plucked out of the sky then brutally smash it senseless. It was reported the crazed primate then gorged on the still living bird’s innards, licking the blood from its fingers as it went.
Spider Devours Entangled Bird
Brace yourselves, arachnophobes. Below are pictures of a giant Golder Orb Weaver scuttling over an entangled Chestnut-breasted Mannikin before it plunges its fangs into the hapless bird.
It is the stuff of nightmares for some. The pictures were taken Down Under.
And in this clip below, the world’s largest web-making spider caught not one but two Finches and consumed them both before planting eggsacks in their chest cavities (shudder).
Bill Morgan’s fortunes went from catastrophic to fantastic when the lucky trucker recovered from being on life support to winning a car and massive windfall on two scratch-cards, even winning the 2nd ‘scratchie’ live on air. Watch and read about it here.
Luck can be like buses, you wait for ages then several come at once, and so it happened to Aussie trucker Bill Morgan.
The tale doesn’t start well however, he had a nasty crash and once at hospital reacted badly to the drugs he was given, suffering a massive heart attack which stopped his heart for 14 minutes. He was put into a coma. His doctors declared him clinically dead and his family were preparing to say their goodbyes before turning off his life support.
12 days in, however, he miraculously awoke from his coma and was absolutely fine. It was a miracle! Bill’s newfound appreciation for life made him quit his trucking career and he proposed to his long time girlfriend within a year.
What’s more Bob wanted to see how far his streak of luck could go. He went out to buy a scratch card (a ‘scratchie’ as they’re known ‘down under’) and won himself a $17,000 car.
Normally winning a car wouldn’t be a newsworthy event, but in the wider context of what Bob had gone through, a local Melbourne news channel thought it would be good to do a story on him and asked him to go back to re-enact the win on camera.
So Bob duly did, he bought another scratchie and, on camera, began scratching clear another card… and only won himself another $250,000 on air!
So Bob duly did, he bought another scratchie and, on camera, began scratching clear another card… and only won himself another $250,000 on air!
The tale of the Boyd Massacre; an act of bone-chilling cannibalism perhaps the worst to occur since the Aztec Empire
Subjects of Europe’s Empires saw the world beyond Europe as one inhabited by varieties of savage. In the most exotic corner of the world lurid images of Pacific islanders as fierce cannibals remained in the European conscience well into the 20th Century.
For intrepid European sailors in the Age of Discovery, a voyage across the vast Pacific only sporadically revealed specks of land on the horizon, but these would expand into verdant, comely refuges for sore-eyed sailors once the ship drew near.
Savages might also appear; Stocky and erect, the whites of their eyes clear to see. Then, the ship would launch its tender ashore to trade for supplies and a taste of terra firma after many days at sea.
But there was always the risk of a bloody outcome – if the mariners outstayed their welcome or committed some offence, they might be forced into a frantic retreat back to their ship under a hail of stones and spears.
If those mariners were not fleet of foot or fast enough with the trigger they could be killed and even butchered and turned to ‘long pig’ – the euphemistic term for human meat. On islands such as Fiji it was the supreme act of dominance to consume a defeated foe and these islanders’ notoriety mushroomed with the tales of their cannibalism.
These Pacific islanders were explorers themselves, and crossed the sea in their large canoes to settle the world’s last remaining major uninhabited landmass in the 13th/14th Century. That landmass came to be called New Zealand, and those people came to be the Maori people – some of the Pacific’s most violent and cannibalistic of all.
In the first ever meeting between the Maoris and Europeans, four of Dutch explorer Abel Tasman’s crew were murdered, and the locals had to be driven off with canister shot before the Whites could escape.
And as a harbinger of what would come later, in 1772 a French Explorer named Marc-Joseph du Fresne led a two ship expedition to explore New Zealand and establish relations with the Maori. After a cordial first few months, the locals turned hostile and butchered Du Fresne and 25 of his crew. Accounts of Du Fresne’s death would circulate widely to give New Zealand a bad reputation as a dangerous land.
It was to this backdrop that a ship set out on a voyage destined to end in an even more gruesome feast of human flesh in December, 1809.
The Maoris are a proud warrior race and this tale begins with the humiliation of a chieftain’s son too severe to forgive.
The Boyd was a 400 tonne brigantine with a Captain John Thompson at the helm. She was transporting passengers, including ex-convicts, plus women and children from the fledgling colony of Australia to New Zealand, and the plan was to return with some kaurispars – wooden poles much prized for use for ship’s rigging. There were 70 souls on board.
One of those was a native of New Zealand; a young man named ‘George’ by his ship mates, but whose real name was Te Ara, or Tarrah, a name given to him by his father who was a prominent chieftain in Whangaroa Bay where the ship was sailing to. It was only because of the ship’s convenient destination that the chieftain’s progeny agreed to work his passage home, although he did have experience as a crewmember on other vessels.
So, the ship set forth from Sydney Cove in October 1809. Sometime early into the weeks-long voyage the wheels of tragedy were set in motion.
Because of the dearth of survivors we can’t be sure what happened, but Tarrah, it seems, ran afoul of the unyielding code of discipline Captain Thompson wielded. It was discipline typical of European ships abundantly crewed by rough, rowdy, hard-hearted brutes. Corporal punishment was meted out at the slightest offence lest such men dared be so insolent as to repeat the antics of Christian Fletcher and his accomplices in the Bounty Mutiny 20 years before.
It’s said Tarrah either refused to do a task required of him because he was ill or because of his status as a chief’s son.Another account states that the ship’s cook accidentally threw some pewter spoons overboard and accused Tarra of stealing them to avoid being flogged for it himself. Yet another report of the event suggests it was for a slight theft.
The punishment was flogging. Tarrah was tied down and the Captain ordered him to be lashed 25 times with a cat o’nine tails; a whip multiplied nine-fold with lengths of coarse, thin rope, knotted at the ends. It could shred the skin of a man’s back and even the flesh underneath. One lurid newspaper account from 1910 describes Tarrah receiving his lashes as onlookers leered and jeered at him, piling humiliation upon his agony which would account for his later actions.
Tarrah certainly didn’t take the punishment with the indifference sea dogs of the age were accustomed to receiving such agony. Tarrah received his flogging towards the start of the voyage and the rest of Boyd’s crew had forgotten about it by the time they reached Whangaroa. Although he’d since continued with his duties in sullen silence, this proud young Maori nobleman had forgotten nothing. The flogging had been the severest of violations and demanded violent utu retribution.
In blissful ignorance, Captain Thompson sailed the Boyd into the tree-rimmed Whangaroa Bay in December.
Tarrah’s father had been waiting avidly for his son’s return and, once the brig had dropped anchor, his warriors sped across the water in their narrow, swift canoes and swarmed up the sides of the brig to greet Tarrah with their customary rubbing of noses.
The Captain thought it prudent to allow Tarrah to go ashore together with a handful of crew members to secure the fine bounty of wood they’d sailed so far for. Tarrah hence returned in the Maori canoes for his long awaited return home.
It should’ve been a joyful reunion, but after greeting his father, Tarrah took him to one side to vent about what the Captain had unforgivably done to him and displayed his unhealed wounds.
The chieftain’s nostrils flared. He wanted to assault the Captain immediately for this outrage. Yet, his son had a plan for a most bloodthirsty revenge. They and their warriors were now thirsting for blood in the worst way imaginable.
The Maori restrained themselves for three days no less… perhaps to work up an appetite.
On the third day the chieftain invited the Captain to send a party of men ashore to a spot where there was a great stock of Kauri trees to be felled. Captain Thompson sent five men and once they were safely out of sight of the ship the Maori’s heinous massacre began. These five crewmen were clubbed to death and their bodies were carried away to be prepared for eating.
Their clothes were also taken to be used to disguise maori canoists for the next stage.
At nightfall, the Boyd’s crew at last spotted their crewmates returning from ashore in a canoe belonging to ‘George’s’ village. And it was the familiar voice of the sulky Maori that called out to them in the darkness.
The officer of the watch oversaw the canoe approach and his five shipmates climb back aboard but stiffened with a barely perceptible sense of something wrong. Then, as the men clambered aboard their eyes met; the wide-eyed glare of a murderous savage and the wide-eyed stare of the officer, as the significance of the moment registered, the hapless man fell under successive blows from a Taiaha club.
The assault on the Boyd was swift and stealthy, and only witnessed for posterity because a handful of crew managed to clamber up into the rigging before they could be spotted. More Maori now swarmed onto the Boyd who’d been waiting out of sight to be called. Now that the night watch had been murdered, the vengeful islanders proceeded to call the dozens of people below to come up on deck, where they were butchered then dismembered for a great feast that was being prepared.
The terror those hidden above must have felt, looking down breathlessly at the candle lit deck as the Captain, men, women and children were slaughtered by the pitiless brutes can only be imagined.
By dawn the islanders had departed and only now could the survivors who had spent the night up the masts sigh in relief when another canoe approached to provide their rescue.
The approaching canoe carried a chieftain who was well inclined towards Europeans. His name was Te Pahi. He had visited Sydney four years before and had now come to trade with the Boyd.
Te Pahi was happy to take aboard the survivors on his canoe. As they set off for shore, however, the Europeans gasped at the sight of two Whangaroa canoes in hot pursuit. Te Pahi managed to get the survivors ashore for them to dash off, yet he could do nothing to stop their pursuers and witnessed the Whangaroan canoeists beach and catch and kill all but one of their prey.
66 of the 70 souls aboard the Boyd were butchered and turned to ‘longpig’ in a feast where perhaps hundreds of Tarrah’s tribe gorged themselves on human flesh. It may have lasted for days as the detritus of cannibalism – human bones, skulls, and half eaten limbs littered their village clearings.
Later the Whangaroans towed the Boyd to be beached and ransacked, especially for its prized stocks of muskets and gunpowder. As they were in the process of this, a flint ignited the gunpowder causing a spectacular explosion. 15 Maori including Tarrah’s Chieftain father were blown sky-high and the Boyd burned to the waterline.
Of the survivors, Ann Morley with her baby and apprentice Thomas Davis were spared because they showed Tarrah compassion and friendship after he received his sadistic punishment days before, according to some accounts. And a two-year-old Elizabeth “Betsey” Broughton was taken by a local chief who put a feather in her hair and kept her for three weeks before she was rescued. The Boyd’s 2nd mate tried to stay off the menu by making himself useful. He endeavoured to make fish hooks but proved incompetent at this, so he too was butchered.
30 miles (50km) away news reached Alexander Berry of the awful massacre. Berry was not only Captain of the City of Edinburgh but a hard frontier mariner to boot. He set off immediately to rescue the rumoured survivors. Once in the vicinity, Berry captured two local chieftains to trade for the survivors. The survivors were returned to him but Berry then demanded the Boyd’s papers before he would finally release the chieftains.
But the saga did not end there. It ended most unfortunately for the one well-disposed Maori who’d actually tried to save the survivors.
The Whaler’s Revenge
Three months on, after the European community had time to process and get a clearer picture of the enormity of the atrocity that had occured, Te Pahi’s name kept cropping up as the man who’d led the attack on the Boyd. This appears to be simple mistaken identity as his name was very similar to Te Puhi, one of the plotters of the massacre.
The crews of five whaling ships being confident of their combined numbers set off with the obstinate aim of investigating the coastline and rescue any possible survivors. But no doubt they sought to spill blood of their own and provide the Whanaroans the kind of musketry none coveted.
They landed at Te Pahi’s ‘Pa’. There, they ran amok, cutting down at least 60 of its defenders before returning to their boats with the village now a smouldering tangle of death and disarray. They also badly wounded the innocent Te Pahi. A small boat of the Boyd’s and some booty were discovered as if to vindicate the misdirected raid, however.
Having his village destroyed, his people killed and himself wounded for an attack he hadn’t even approved of caused Te Pahi to feel no little ill will towards his Whangaroan neighbours. The enraged Chieftain led his remaining warriors on a raid of his own on their village where the old warrior died from a spear thrust.
In the passing decades relations between encroaching Europeans and the Maori tribes would, of course, turn pacific, but for the immediate future the Boyd Massacre sent shockwaves across the British Empire and all interested European parties, severely denting the perception of Maoris as being ‘noble savages’. Instead New Zealand became the islands where its murderous cannibals must be given a wide berth.
A planned visit of missionaries was delayed until 1814 and shipping to New Zealand fell away to almost nothing for the next three years as a result of this grisly chapter in New Zealand history.
The world’s No.1 is as heavy as a car.Presenting the biggest coins in the world.
When the Royal Mint minted a massive £10,000 coin in 2021, it got me wondering what the biggest coins in the world were. So, I reached into my bag of tricks and I came up with this; the seven most massive, very valuable coins in the world.
Note, I am only including circular metal coins with a denomination.
This may sound a little obvious yet there is a ‘massive coin’ from Sweden minted in 1644 which I would call a copper slab with hallmarks imprinted on it, and there are Rai Stones on the Micronesian Islands up to 3.6m (12ft) in diameter which served as a form of money, and therefore have been termed ‘coins’ by some, but not moi.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the seven biggest coins (by diameter), starting from seventh:
7: Queen’s Beasts Coin
The Queen’s Beasts Coin was minted in 2021 by the UK’s Royal Mint (RM) and is an outstanding piece of craftsmanship.
This gold coin is 20cm (7.9in) in diameter and weighs 10kg (22lbs). Unsurprisingly, it is the largest coin minted in the RM’s 1,100-year history.
It is meant as the final piece of a larger collection on the theme of heraldic beasts.
When Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953, 10 stone statues lined the Queen’s route to Westminster, including; a lion, griffin, falcon, bull, yale, greyhound, dragon, unicorn and a horse.
The RM subsequently made these beasts the theme of said coin collection.
With one side showing the side profile of Her Majesty’s head, the other side of the coin has another side-head profile beautifully surrounded by engravings of the 10 beasts in stunning detail.
This whopper set a new standard in coin minting. It took 400 hours to craft. They spent four days alone polishing it.
It is a £10,000 denomination coin, yet its real value is somewhere not far below the million-pound mark, so don’t forget which pocket you left it in.
6: 1000-Mohur Jahangir Coin
A number of historical records tell of giant coins being forged by ancient empires.
Coins said to weigh over four kilos were minted in the Abbasid Empire, for example, and a very hefty coin was gifted by a Mughal Emperor to his court jester, but one that he bore a hole through the middle for his jester to slip his head through and bear it on his shoulders.
It was heavy enough for this poor-not-poor jester to be quite helpless and the man even had the nerve to complain out loud. That’s gratitude! Pffft.
None of these coins survived history, except one.
The fourth Mughal Emperor Jahangir minted the 1000-mohur Jahangir gold coin in 1639 weighing in at just under 12kg (26.5lbs) and with a 20.3cm (8in) diameter.
The inscription on the coin is in Persian. In the centre is the emperor’s name and title and surrounding the circular core are two couplets meticulously set on the coin with all the rules of calligraphy faithfully observed.
Considering it was made without modern minting technology, it is a fantastic piece of craftsmanship.
It is owned by Mukarram Jah, the Nizam of Hyderabad and was valued at 10 million US dollars in 1987, so who knows what its value is now.
5: Vienna Philharmonic Coin
The 15 Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra coins were made to mark the 15th anniversary of the Vienna Philharmonic bullion coin.
They were minted in 2004 by the Austrian Mint. They each have a diameter of 37cm (14.6in), 2cm (.8in) thickness, and are 31kg (68.3lbs) of 24-carat gold.
Dubbed ‘Big Phil’, these priceless discs are inscribed with the image of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra’s famous hall on one side and instruments on the other, plus the coins’ 100,000 Euro face-value. Their true value was put at 1.1 million Euros each in 2014.
4: Big Maple Leaf Coin
The Big Maple Leaf Coin hails from Canada, and isn’t a unique piece — six were forged in all. Just 5 remain after one was whisked away in 2017, however.
A gang of thieves made off with one of the coins on loan to the Bode Museum in Berlin, Germany. Although the cops did track down the thieves eventually, not so the coin; it is believed to have been melted down for its gold.
Minted by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2007. These giant doubloons are 50cm (19.7in) in diameter, 2.8cm (1.1in) thick and weigh a back-breaking 100kg (220lbs). They are made from 99% pure gold.
As a member of the British Commonwealth, these Canadian giants have the customary side profile of Queen Elizabeth II’s head on one side and three elegantly stylised maple leaves on the other.
Like the 1 Tonne Gold Kangaroo Coin, (see below) it is a million-dollar denomination, yet it was valued at four million US dollars in 2007.
3: ‘100 Years of The Koruna’ Coin
This gargantuan gold coin was commissioned to celebrate the Czech Republic’s currency reaching its 100 year anniversary.
The old Czechoslovak state was founded just after the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918. This fledgling state launched its shiny new currency called the Czech Crown (Koruna) a year later. 100 years on and a bumper era of economic success with this currency to show for it, the Czech Mint chose to splurge on a chunky, gold commemorative coin.
The ‘100 Years of The Koruna’ Coin is 53.5cm (21in) in diameter and 4.7cm (1.9in) thick. And with a weight of 130kg (287lbs) they should include a forklift in the price for any prospective buyer.
This mesmeric piece depicts the birth of the Czechoslovak Koruna among ears of wheat on one side and, in homage to the famed One-Crown coin that first went into circulation in 1922, the Czech lion is shown onto its reverse side.
With a 100 million-crown denomination, this equalled a $4.6 million valuation in 2019.
2: Ivory Coast Silver Elephant Coin
In 2nd place is the one entry in this list not forged from gold, yet it’s still an impressive piece as the largest silver coin on Earth.
Issued by The Ivory Coast in Africa but manufactured by Geiger Edelmetalle, this set of 15 coins was minted in 2016 to champion the preservation of the continent’s iconic megafauna such as the African Elephant.
Although every coin measures 65cm (26in) and 54kg (120lb) in diameter and weight respectively, the 99% pure silver coins are handcrafted, meaning each is unique from the others in the set.
The front of each coin features the African Bush Elephant standing tall, along with the French phrase “Le Monde Animal En Peril,” translating to ‘The Animal World In Peril.’ The reverse side displays the Ivory Coast coat of arms and gives the nominal value of 1,000,000 Francs (although their true values are many times higher.)
A proportion of the profits from each coin were allocated to conservation projects that protect endangered species in the Ivory Coast republic.
1: One Tonne Gold Kangaroo Coin
The Perth Mint in Australia produced this absolute monster of a paperweight, the One Tonne Gold Kangaroo Coin — The world’s largest coin!
Minted in 2012, it has a diameter of 80cm (31.5in), is 12cm (4.7in) deep and is 1000kg (2,200lbs) of pure gold.
With a face-value of a million dollars, this giant coin was actually valued at 53 million dollars when it was unveiled.
It was made to be the showpiece of the Perth Mint ‘Australian Kangaroo Gold Bullion Coin Series‘ and is a triumph of coin minting.
On one side is Queen Elizabeth II’s side profile with ‘ELIZABETH II’, ‘AUSTRALIA’ and ‘1 MILLION DOLLARS’ inscribed around the edge, and the other side features a bounding red kangaroo surrounded by stylised rays of sunlight and bordered by the inscription ‘AUSTRALIAN KANGAROO’, ‘1 TONNE’, ‘9999 GOLD’ and ‘2012’.
It is legal tender, but please don’t try taking it down to your local corner shop to buy a bottle of milk; they won’t thank you for it. Besides… it weighs an absolute tonne (grabs coat).