Human-monkey hybrids, sex maniacs and a COVID potato: The most bizarre stories of 2021

By most metrics, 2021 was another grim year for the world. 

But it wasn't all doom and gloom, with idiots and geniuses alike giving us reason to smile, laugh and silently mouth 'WTF' as we doomscrolled our way through another 12 months of lockdowns, rising house prices and the daily reckons of talkback radio hosts. 

Here are some of the oddest stories Newshub ran in 2021 - saving the best for last. 

Viral humour

You'd think a pandemic wouldn't be a place to find comedy, but the sheer amount of idiocy on show in 2021 made it easy as catching Delta without a mask on . 

In January, doctors were urging men not to inject COVID-19 vaccines into their penis. While clearly stupid, at least they were willing to get vaccinated - others making absurd claims like the vaccine will turn us into 'human-viral chimeras' (debunked in an actual legitimate scientific study).

Misunderstandings and straight-up misinformation about the vaccines was rife throughout 2021, most of the latter just plain harmful. But in May anti-vaxxers started wearing masks to avoid catching the vaccine, which they claimed could spread from person-to-person. A win's a win, I guess? 

It wasn't just morons making headlines for their thoughts on COVID-19 though - scientists too gave us plenty to laugh about. In July, doctors reported accidentally curing two patients of COVID-19 via faecal transplants

In May, doctors in Japan wanted to see if there was another way of getting oxygen into patients that didn't involve the mouth or nose - you can guess which alternative orifice they tried.

Some scientists decided rather than curing COVID-19, they just wanted to know how much of it there was in the world - about the same weight as a potato, it turns out

And give it up for 74-year-old Virginia man Richard Terrell, who was so determined not to catch COVID-19 that a little case of his skin peeling off wasn't going to stop him getting a second dose

Mad science

There's been a second pandemic sweeping the world over the past couple of years - that of amateur epidemiology. But who needs idiots on the internet, when there are geniuses out there coming up with the craziest nonsense you ever heard of? 

Scientists from Otago University in July unveiled the 'DentalSlim Diet Control' device - which they described as a 'weight-loss device to help fight the global obesity epidemic', but others pointed out it was basically a medieval torture device

In April, scientists wanting to do experiments on humans that would fail to meet ethical standards said they'd found a loophole - do them on human-monkey hybrids instead

Scientists in Russia would have been scratching their heads that same month when Russia's Defence Minister suggested cloning ancient warriors who'd been buried for 3000 years.

In July, Kiwi scientists said the world-famous sheep Shrek might only have been able to grow his epic wooly coat because he had his balls chopped off. And in February, German scientists said everyone alive today might only be so because they poisoned their rivals in the race to fertilise their mother's egg

But our violent creation story is hardly unique; scientists in March said they'd found evidence parts of an entirely different planet, one which slammed into the Earth billions of years ago and formed the moon, are still buried beneath Africa and the Pacific Ocean

In April, doctors in Iraq reported the first-ever human born with three penises, two of them sadly useless. 

Who needs a penis though? In December, scientists watching desert bugs found the women were quite happy receiving stimulation via another of the men's protuberances.

Getty Images
Some people believed the deceased son of a former US President was about to come back to life and return Donald Trump to power. Photo credit: Getty Images

Dumb decisions

While we're all epidemiologists now, not all of us have the chops to do it properly. Some of us aren't even intelligent enough not to fall into a gigantic papier-mâché dinosaur sculpture and die

Meanwhile in New York, a mother-son 'couple' applied for permission from the court to marry, saying it would "diminish their humanity" if they couldn't. Worryingly, not everyone pointed and laughed

But pretty much everyone who wasn't at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas were howling with laughter in November. QAnon supporters had rallied at the site of the assassination of US President John F Kennedy, expecting his son JFK Jr to come back from the dead and take office with Donald Trump. Not only did he not appear, but a string of other deceased celebrities who were expected to appear - among them basketball star Kobe Bryant, actress Debbie Reynolds and rapper Tupac Shakur - were no-shows too.

Three weeks later QAnon cultists gathered again, this time on the 58th anniversary of JFK's death, where once again his deceased son failed to come back to life

Closer to home, an anti-cycling and anti-native tree activist (no, really) accused Auckland Council of "spitting on the bones of our ancestors" and having "no respect for the dead" after some felled pines were given away as firewood

In India, a man whose bride literally died at the altar didn't waste any time finding a new woman - marrying her younger sister right there and then

Meanwhile in Africa, a man with 16 wives and 151 children said he had no plans to slow down - believing it is up to him to repopulate his war-torn nation

Animal antics

Of course, 2021's madness wasn't restricted to humanity. Monkeys in California got addicted to reality TV and fish in the Czech Republic took up meth

Worms in New Jersey were spotted forming a 'wormnado', while a foul-mouthed duck in Australia picked up an insulting human phrase

And a bizarre, convoluted series of events involving Andy Warhol and the rock band REM led to a new species of ant being given the world's first gender-neutral scientific name.

Spaced out and technologically inferior

Some jokes write themselves - all we have to do is put them in the headline. Such was the case in April when astronomers, for the first time, detected X-rays beaming out of Uranus

In June, US intelligence agencies were forced to reveal what they know about UFOs in a way none of us who avidly watched The X-Files back in the '90s could have expected - in a last-minute amendment to a pandemic spending package

Something we should have expected though was to find a 'house' on the moon - or was it a Nissan Cube

The oddest tech story of the year was the rise of NFTs - meaningless digital certificates popular with grifters and fraudsters. In March, someone spent close to NZ$100 million to claim ownership of this picture, which you can simply right-click and save to your computer for free

Chris Penk, who delivered the most off-the-wall tweet of any Kiwi politician in 2021.
Chris Penk, who delivered the most off-the-wall tweet of any Kiwi politician in 2021. Photo credit: Chris Penk/Twitter

Peculiar politicians

Over the past couple of years, children gatecrashing their parents' Zoom calls has become its own genre of news. Labour MP Carmel Sepuloni joined the club in August during an on-camera interview with a radio station when her son burst in to show off a rude-looking carrot he'd found

That was positively G-rated compared to a Canadian MP's Zoom habits, getting caught with his pants down twice

Thankfully Tauranga-based National MP Simon Bridges didn't whip out his phone while getting his COVID-19 vaccinations, telling The AM Show in February he'd be "pulling my pants down before you can say Jiminy Cricket" once he was eligible. It was unclear whether Bridges thought the jabs went in the bum or if he thinks pants are meant to go on the arms. 

Fellow National MP Chris Penk in June accused a rival politician of being a "s*x maniac because he can f**k a whole country at once". Being a father-of-two might have been behind his decision to censor not just the 'F' word but the 'S' word too. He later admitted to Newshub it was a "bit out there", and deleted the tweet. 

The very next day, his colleague Harete Hipango took to social media to congratulate herself on returning to Parliament. "Great to see you back in the House Harete, and making a speech too!" she told herself on Facebook. 

In September National's Maureen Pugh revealed she's been struck by lightning three times, but claimed it "didn't even hurt". 

While National's been through a few leaders lately, even the shortest-lived reign - that of Todd Muller - was positively Peter Jacksonian in length compared to that of Magdalena Andersson. Sweden's first-ever female Prime Minister's first term didn't even last a single day

Government departments weren't immune to making strange claims either - in April, the Ministry of Social Development told a client food was "not an essential need".

But as always, the dumbest things said by any politician in 2021 of course came from the US. In June, Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert asked scientists if they could look into moving the Earth further from the sun to reduce the impact of climate change - I guess acknowledging climate change is real is a step forward for most US politicians. 

In October, a Trump supporter running for office in Virginia suggested sea levels could be lowered "if we just took all the boats out of the water". Again, arguably an improvement. 

The Ever Given.
The Ever Given. Photo credit: Getty Images

Best story we were Ever Given 

When push comes to shove (comes to push a bit more, pull it a bit, have we tried explosives?) the funniest story of the year, hands down, was the container ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal

In late March the Ever Given got wedged across the narrow canal, through which a significant percentage of the world's trade flows. 

It took a week to get off the sand, the internet's suggestions of balloons, ramming and moving the entire country of Egypt rejected in favour of boring old "digging, tugging and pulling"

Any doubts this story could be beaten as the year's best were wiped when a truck carrying an Ever Given-branded shipping container crashed on a Chinese freeway, blocking it - while the ship itself was still stuck in the Suez. You couldn't write comedy better than that.