Snowball the cat helped solve a murder
Wan Fahmy Redzuan/Shutterstock
In 1994, a murder case rocked the small Prince Edward Island, located off the coast of Canada. A 32-year-old woman named Shirley Duaguay went missing, and her body was found months later. Most people believed that her estranged husband, who was known to be abusive, was to blame. However, there was no evidence to convict him. That is, until someone found a bag in the woods containing a blood-stained jacket, sneakers, and some white cat hairs. The victim’s husband, Douglas Beamish, owned a white cat named Snowball. A geneticist at the United Cancer Institute ran a DNA test and matched the cat hairs from the bag with Snowball’s DNA. Paired with some evidence from the victim’s body, Snowball’s “testimony” was enough to convict Beamish. It was the first time non-human DNA was used in a murder case. Since then, pet DNA has helped solve many violent crimes. Too bad these cats that briefly became CIA agents weren’t nearly as successful.
Montauciel the sheep was one of the world’s first aeronauts
Long before Sputnik, Laika the Soviet space dog, and even the Wright brothers, there was Montauciel the sheep and his fowl companions. In the 1700s, people wanted to test to see if humans could withstand time spent at high altitudes. There had already been several unmanned hot air balloon flights, and in 1783, the first flight containing a land animal took off. Montauciel the sheep went up in the balloon, accompanied by a duck (a bird already used to high altitudes) and a rooster (a flightless bird). The scientists believed that if a sheep could survive the trip, so could a human. The animals all returned unharmed…mostly. Montauciel apparently kicked the rooster before the balloon took off, the big bully. (Fun fact: his name means “ascend into the sky” in French.) We bet you didn’t know about these split-second decisions that changed history.