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Station: The Unusual

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Kieron Williamson is a six-year-old watercolor artist with a preternatural talent for painting.  He lives in Holt, a town in Norfolk, England.  According to his mother, he began drawing at the age of five, and at first his work looked like that of other children his age.  After taking some art lessons from a family friend, however, his abilities and talent blossomed.  His paintings, several of which may be seen here have the sense of color, perspective, and composition of a mature artist.

We've all seen the "Never Give Up" posters like the one on the left, but here's a picture by David Maitland that captures the struggle in real life, between a tree frog, and a snake.  The picture was taken in a rain forest in Belize, in the dead of night.  He watched the stalemate for three hours before finally giving up due to fatigue - he never did know how this stalemate ended.

Alonzo Clemons is another window into the incredible mystery that is the human brain. After suffering a serious brain injury as a toddler which left him significantly handicapped in terms of normal functioning, he developed an ability as a sculptor which is truly remarkable.  Unable to read or write, and unable to communicate well verbally, he is now able to live independently with some support from others.

What sets him apart, and makes him truly remarkable, is his genius-level ability to sculpt animals from clay.  Using only his hands and fingernails as tools, he can produce sculptures that are correct in every detail after having seen an animal only briefly - or perhaps only in a picture - and without further reference to his subject while he is creating his artwork.  For him, sculpting is not simply a pastime, but something bordering on obsession.  In this video, you can watch him as he works.

Wally Wallington is a retired carpenter who did more than just wonder how the bronze-age people in Britain might have erected the monumental stones at Stonehenge, he set about figuring it out - and it looks like he may really have made some progress. Using only simply techniques, without any sort of metal tools or power tools, he has demonstrated the ability to single-handedly move and erect monolithic slabs of concrete.  His techniques are at once simple, and brilliant.  Using the power of leverage, and some very ingenious ways to slowly raise these huge slabs a few inches at a time, he has been able to stand a 19,200 pound concrete slab on end, without using pulleys, hoists, or metal levers. His only tools are boards, small rocks, and moveable counterweights.  Basically, he lets gravity do most of the work.

A most extraordinary friendship developed between two sets of animal twins in Sumatra.  A pair of five month old orangutans, Nia and Irma, and a pair of one month old Sumatran tiger twins - all abandoned by their respective mothers, found comfort and companionship with each other in a nursery in an Indonesian zoo.  Although they would be natural enemies in the wild, it would appear that at this early age, all they wanted was the companionship they found with each other. There are other pictures of the animals on this page.

This, believe it or not, is a plant - or, more accurately, a fungus.  It is a member of the Gyromitra genus. It grows in sandy soils in Europe, and is usually found under pine trees and other conifers.  The fungus can grow up to 6 inches wide, and can be fatal if eaten raw.

In spite of that, it is eaten in the Scandanavian countries, usually prepared by parboiling, but this still may not render it completely harmless. (Perhaps it goes well with the Japanese Fugu Blowfish?).  Like many unusual foods, it is considered by some to be a delicacy.  If it is not prepared properly, however, the toxins it contains can affect the liver, central nervous system, and in some cases the kidneys.  Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, lethargy, and headache. In severe cases of poisoning, these can be followed by delirium, coma and death in 5-7 days.  Bon Apetit!