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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 January 2006, 07:45 GMT
The best 'and finallies' of 2005
The Game
Low-slung trousers caused concern
After the intellectual stimulation provided by the latest reports on EU farming subsidies or the Bolivian elections, BBC News website users sometimes look for a little light relief.

We know this because the daily "top stories" lists sent to journalists do not consist solely of the most highbrow offerings.

Many days see a top 10 entry from an "also in the news" story, with the following among the most widely read quirky articles of the past year. Vote for your favourite.

SWAMP THINGS

The predators died in the clash

Sometimes there really are no winners - as was the case when an unusual clash between a 6ft (1.8m) alligator and a 13ft (3.9m) python left the two lethal predators dead in a Florida swamp.

Startled rangers who found the creatures' remains believe the python tried to swallow its fearsome rival whole, but then exploded - possibly when the alligator clawed at its innards in an attempt to escape.

RIPPIT RIPPIT

Toad (Photo courtesy of Freefoto)
It was not a good year for the toads of Hamburg

Exploding animals were also making headlines in the German city of Hamburg, where thousands of toads died after a mystery disease caused them to swell to more than three times their normal size and then burst.

"The toads' entrails are propelled for up to a metre (3.2ft), in scenes that have been likened to science fiction," the BBC News website informed readers.

DIRTY DANCING

Cheerleaders
Not all mascots are as wholesome as the Dallas Cowboys'

In Texas, legislators turned their attention to the thorny issue of cheerleaders - in particular those troupes whose racy antics they considered unsuitable for high school sports matches.

"Some of them are just downright vulgar, something you would see at an adult club or something," said one Democrat as the vote to ban "sexually suggestive" mascots went through.

DROOPY DRAWERS

VOTE RESULTS
Choose your favourite quirky story of 2005
Swamp things
 36.73% 
Rippit rippit
 7.89% 
Dirty dancing
 9.66% 
Droopy drawers
 5.73% 
Lovely little lad
 2.78% 
Short back and socialist
 11.08% 
Relief relief
 4.48% 
Rock of ages
 14.60% 
Bust-up gum
 4.79% 
Chat show warrior
 2.27% 
9687 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

The morals of wayward US youth were also causing concern in Virginia, where politicians were occupied with "droopy drawers" - the problem of trousers worn so low you can see the wearer's underpants.

Despite warnings about their own "fashion follies" and the danger that any law would be used mostly against black people, the state house backed calls for $50 (29) fines for anyone showing too much boxer short or G-string.

The proposals to tackle "lewd or indecent" underwear displays were later dropped, amid complaints that it had become a "distraction".

LOVELY LITTLE LAD

Giant baby
And in the white corner....
He can "truly be considered a giant baby, for he was born weighing what a six-month-old-baby normally weighs", said paediatrician Luiz Sena Azul of "little" Ademilton dos Santos .

Twice the size of an average newborn, Ademilton entered the world weighing 17lb (8kg), making him Brazil's heaviest ever baby and, it has to be said, a fair size by standards pretty much anywhere else in the world.

SHORT BACK AND SOCIALIST

North Korean hair styles
Some haircuts are more equal than others

"Untidy hair and unhealthy attire" among North Korean riff-raff came under attack with the launch of the campaign "Let us trim our hair in accordance with Socialist lifestyle".

Men with hair longer than the regulation 5cm, or who failed to visit the barber every 15 days for a state-approved trim, were warned of the "negative effects" of long hair on "human intelligence development".

RELIEF RELIEF

Tribal people on Car Nicobar
It was feared tribal people on Car Nicobar had been killed

When an aid flight came under attack in early 2005, officials in charge of delivering supplies to communities affected by the South Asian tsunami breathed a sigh of relief.

The arrow that sailed past a helicopter dropping food and water to the remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands signalled the survival of a tribe feared to have been wiped out.

ROCK OF AGES

Phallus
Scientists said there was "little doubt" about what their find was

A clue to how people spent those long, cold Ice Age nights was revealed when scientists in Germany unearthed a 28,000-year-old stone phallus.

Researchers believe the object - one of the earliest representations of male sexuality ever found - may well have been used as a sex aid.

And to smash flints.

BUST-UP GUM

Pueraria mirifica
The gum is easier to chew than its key ingredient - pueraria mirifica

A chewing gum claimed to enhance the size, shape and tone of breasts was a big hit in Japan.

The manufacturers of Bust-Up said their product could also improve circulation, reduce stress and fight ageing if chewed three or four times a day. It was said to work by slowly releasing compounds from a plant known to hill tribes.

CHAT SHOW WARRIOR

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah uncovered links to the Zulus

After having a DNA test, chat show queen Oprah Winfrey announced "I am a Zulu" during a visit to South Africa.

The US star said she felt "at home" in the country and added "I'm crazy about the South African accent. I wish I had been born here."





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