x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

The numbers of blue-eyed, fair-haired Chinese are legion

DNA samples taken from a Chinese town at the edge of the Gobi Desert show they have more than half Caucasian ancestry, leading to speculation that Roman soldiers could have settled in the area, and other offbeat stories you may have missed this week.

Scientists believe that villagers in a remote Chinese village could be descended from a lost Roman legion.

DNA samples taken from residents in Liqian, a community on the edge of the Gobi Desert, show they are more than 56 per cent Caucasian in origin, with distinctive features that include blue or green eyes, long noses and fair hair.

Legend tells that some Roman soldiers fled east after their legion was destroyed in a battle with the Parthians in 53BC. They are thought to have offered their services as mercenaries and eventually to have settled in China.

Further research will include a search for Roman artefacts along the ancient Silk Road.


Hard-learnt banking lesson

A pensioner with a lifelong distrust of banks lost most of his life savings after forgetting that he had put £80,000 (Dh463,000) on the roof of his car.

Police say the 68-year-old painter, who has asked not to be named, drove off after forgetting he had put the money on top of his car as he left for work.

The man began taking his savings to work after his guard dog died, but only realised what had happened several hours later.

He drove back to his home in Westcliffe-on-Sea in eastern England, but found only the empty plastic bags the cash was stored in.


Knock three times

French firemen freed an elderly woman who had spent three weeks trapped in a Paris bathroom.

The woman was said to be in a "very weakened" state when she was discovered by her rescuers, alerted by a neighbour who had not seen her for some time.

She survived by drinking water from a bathroom tap after the lock on the door jammed behind her.

Her attempt to alert neighbours by tapping on pipes failed because they thought the noise was someone carrying out repairs and even started a petition of complaint.


Golden price for Apple relic

The first Apple computer has been sold at auction for US$210,000 (Dh771,000).

Consisting only of a motherboard, the "Apple 1" was originally sold by Steve Jobs, the company founder, from his parent's garage in California in 1976.

Of about 200 produced, only a handful survive today. The computer needed a case and screen to complete it and had a memory of 8Kb, not even enough to store a single song on iTunes.

It was bought by an Italian collector who intends to return it to working order.


Big job for small dogs

A Mexican Chihuahua has been recruited to serve as a police rescue dog in western Japan.

Momo, a seven-year-old long-haired Chihuahua, will serve alongside German shepherds and other, more traditional, police dogs in Nara.

She passed a screening test by finding a hidden person in less than five minutes. Police believe Momo will be able to squeeze into narrow places to find victims of natural disasters, such as earthquakes.


Supersize and get a PhD!

McDonald's, the fast-food chain, is to offer a business degree alongside its more traditional burger and fries.

The two-year foundation course, which is accredited by Manchester Metropolitan University in England, will be advertised in brochures that the company intends to place at careers fairs.

The company hopes students will see McDonald's as an alternative to traditional colleges, although successful applicants will also have to take a job with the company.