Meet Mr Green - the world's first glow-in-the-dark cat

His eyes glow ghoulishly in the right light, just like any other cat's - but so do his nostrils, gums and tongue.

Mr Green Genes of New Orleans in the U.S. is the country's first 'glow in the dark' ginger tom.

In daylight he looks normal, but put him in a darkened room and switch on an ultraviolet light, and his face will beam out a bright green.

The six-month-old cat was created by scientists who are trying to combat a range of diseases such as cystic fibrosis.

They modified his DNA to see if a gene could be introduced harmlessly into an animal's genetic sequence.

To track where the gene went, they decided to use one that glowed under ultraviolet light.

The particular gene in question, known as green fluorescence protein, is likely to express itself in mucous membranes - hence his freakish mouth and ears.

Betsy Dresser, at the Audubon Centre for Research of Endangered Species in New Orleans, said the gene that was added to Mr Genes has no effect on his health.

She said: 'Cats are ideal for this project because their genetic make-up is similar to that of humans.

'To show that the gene went where it was supposed to go, we settled on one that would glow.'

The long-term goal of this project is to develop what has been dubbed a 'knockout gene' to combat the cystic fibrosis gene and other diseases.

The fluorescence gene will go alongside the cystic fibrosis gene and make it easier to spot for scientists.

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was this month awarded to the three scientists who had discovered the glowing gene through working with jellyfish.

High-wire artist left hanging after losing his footing hundreds of feet in the air

A high-wire artist lost his footing as he attempted to break a world record by crossing a canyon along a cable hundreds of feet in the air - with no safety net.

Saimaiti Aijiang would have plunged to an almost certain death had he not managed to grab the 3.1cm diameter wire - which runs at a 40 degree angle and is used to carry a tourist cable car.

He slipped after making his way two-thirds of the way across the 700 metre gorge in Tianmengshan, China, a popular scenic spot for tourists.

A climber came to Aijiang's rescue by sliding along the wire and securing him to a harness so he could be lowered to the ground.

As he found his feet, a relieved and shaky Aijiang, his hands cut and bloody from hanging on the thin wire, broke down in tears and sobbed into his mother's shoulder at his failure to break the record and his near-death experience.

'Dawazi' or high-wire walking is a traditional folk stunt with a long history in Xinjiang, China.

The horse who got its head stuck in a tree

This was the bizarre sight that awaited Jason Harschbarger when he heard his horse making noises on the hill above his house in Pullman, West Virginia.

The silly young filly, called Gracie, had to be cut free with a chainsaw after getting her head caught in a tree.

Mr Harschbarger, who took the picture before cutting her loose, says she suffered only minor injuries.

He said: 'She has a few cuts on her face and ear. Last I heard her jaw was a little dislocated but I think it is healing up and she can eat on her own again.'

I guess that's what happens when you start horsing around!

The foreign supercars which have racked-up more than £4.5m in unpaid parking fines

Rogue foreign drivers have racked up more than £4.5 million in unpaid parking fees in central London for cars such as Ferraris and Lamborghinis.

Hundreds of motorists from across Europe, the United States and the Middle East are deliberately flouting the law, safe in the knowledge that British parking authorities cannot trace them overseas, Westminster City Council has said.

The council's figures show that more than 80 per cent of foreign-owned cars and motorbikes have failed to pay for tickets issued for parking illegally in Westminster.

Cases include:

* The owner of a £200,000 Lamborghini Murcielago roadster with the number plate E477 whose car is registered in Dubai, owes almost £2,000 for 17 outstanding tickets.

* The owner of a top-of-the range £180,000 Ferrari Scaglietti with the number plate 322889 owes more than £2,000 for 19 unpaid tickets.

* The owner of an £1million Bugatti Veyron, the fastest and most expensive production super-car in the world - top speed 250mph - has an outstanding ticket dating back to June 2007.

* The owner of a £300,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom, with the number plate 13000 has racked up 23 tickets and almost £3,000 in fines.

* The owner of a £50,000 Hummer with the number plate U19HPS whose car is registered in America, owes £4,000 after being issued more than 35 tickets.

* The worst offender is the owner of a motorbike, registration 362 EEC, who has clocked up almost 400 tickets and £45,000 in fines.

The council is now calling for a change in legislation that would allow local authorities access to overseas' driver and vehicle registration data and enable them to enforce parking fines.

The council's transport chief, Danny Chalkley, said: 'No-one likes getting a parking ticket but most motorists play fair and either pay the fine or follow the appeals process.

'Yet a tiny minority feel as though the rules of this country do not apply to them.

'We would like to see a more rigorous system put in place to send a clear message that this blatant disregard of the law will not be tolerated.'

Stunning sights as thousands of seagulls flock to Portuguese beach

Onlookers gasped in delight yesterday as thousands of seagulls flocked to a beach in Portugal.

The hungry gulls fought over the remains of the catch brought in by fisherman at Costa de Caparica beach near Lisbon.

The stunning sight reportedly occurs up to four or five times a day when locals take the best of the fish selection leaving the gulls to feed on the leftovers.

Seagulls are large aggressive and noisy birds and can measure up to 68cm from bill to tail and have a wingspan up to 85cm.

They typically feed on fish and worms and will look for food up to 50 miles from their nest.

Old Women 68, gives handbag thieves a real run for their money

They probably thought she looked an easy target.

But when three teenagers snatched a bag belonging to 68-year-old Janet Lane, they were given quite a run for their money.

The fleet-footed grandmother, a champion athlete in her school days, chased after the three youths and managed to grab one by the collar.

Police say the boy, aged around 15, was so scared when Mrs Lane caught up with him that he dropped her bag and begged to be let go.

He managed to escape empty-handed while Mrs Lane retrieved her bag and all its contents, including her purse containing over ?100 in cash. Mrs Lane, a diabetic retired nurse, said: 'I think those boys saw a little old lady and thought I was easy pickings, but there was no way I was going to sit there and let them get away with it.

'My first reaction was, "They are not having my bag". I used to be a very good runner when I was younger so I just got up and ran after them. I was screaming at them too. I felt outraged.'

Her bag was snatched as she sat on a bench in parkland outside the Riviera International Centre in Torquay on Monday afternoon.

She said: 'The boys came up to me and asked for a cigarette but I said no. Then I felt a whooshing movement and I saw a boy in a grey-hooded top take my bag.'

Her pursuit included a 100-yard dash across a park and into the grounds of the nearby Inglewood Hotel. She recalled: 'I followed them through the park and into the back of the hotel where they ran down a lane and on to the road.

'I caught one by the collar and he was so afraid he dropped my bag but then managed to wriggle free. I was delighted to get it back. I haven't run like that since I was a girl. It must have been a bit of a sight.'

During the pursuit, she alerted staff at the hotel, who then joined the chase.

A hotel spokesman said: 'There was quite a commotion outside as the lady ran by chasing the boys. Her shouting alerted two waiters who were putting up decorations and they tried to stop them as well.'

Mrs Lane added: 'Thinking about it now I suppose it was a silly thing to do for a pensioner, but I just thought, "What gives them the right?". I stretch every penny of my pension out to make ends meet and I'm not having someone take it.'

Mrs Lane was a school cross-country champion for Yorkshire in 1953, a keen long-jumper and a netball and rounders captain. A grandmother of two, she still swims regularly.

As well as ?100 cash including her ?86 pension, her bag contained her purse, mobile phone, umbrella, a first-aid kit and a present she had bought for a friend.

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police praised Mrs Lane but added: 'Generally for safety reasons we do not actively encourage this kind of behaviour, as you never know what could happen.'

Police are searching for the youth in the hooded top. He is described as around 5ft 7in tall. His accomplices are a similar age.

Motorcyclist lost his leg in crash with hit-run van driver

A motorcyclist today told how he was left dying by two van drivers after losing his leg in a hit-and-run accident.

City worker Kwasi Bonsu was thrown from his black Kawasaki 600cc after he was forced to avoid a van which had swerved into his lane.

The bank analyst crashed into a sign post with such an impact that it severed his right leg, below the knee, which was later found farther up the road.

As Mr Bonsu lay bleeding heavily on the pavement another van became caught up in the motorcycle wreckage on the A13, near Plaistow.

But rather than help Mr Bonsu, the driver and passenger simply moved the motorbike from underneath the vehicle and drove off.

Mr Bonsu was saved after a tractor driver pulled over to call 999 and a woman passer-by stopped him from passing out.

Paramedics were forced to amputate his right leg from above the knee at the scene, and he suffered multiple fractures to his left leg.

He was revived in hospital and underwent nine hours of surgery.

The graduate, who has a Masters degree in Industrial Mathematical Modelling, has had a further 14 operations and is due to have three more.

Recalling the moments before the accident, Mr Bonsu said his speed was no more than 40mph as he travelled on the A13 and prepared to come off at a slip road near his home in Plaistow.

He said: 'It was an open road and I wanted to turn into the street near my house.

'For whatever reason the van came into my lane and jumped on the brakes. I came off my bike.

'The next thing I remember was a lady telling me to 'keep your eyes open'. I must have looked sleepy.

'I don't know who came to my aid but I would love to thank them for what they did.'

The keen sportsman has been helped through his ordeal by his family and his Christian faith.

He faces up to eight months' rehabilitation and physiotherapy before a prosthetic leg can be fitted.

He said: 'I am glad to be alive but I am now missing a major part of my life. I am determined to walk again.

'I have to be determined to get back out there and hopefully to do the things I want to do.

'I have had eight weeks to think about my future and it is a long way ahead before I can walk again.'

Mr Bonsu says he has forgiven the van driver. He said: 'I can't see how holding a grudge is going to bring my leg back.

'But I was surprised that so few people stopped, although they may have not realised the severity of the accident.'

Dc Tom Parker of the Met's collision investigation unit appealed for the public's help to trace the driver of the blue panel van and the driver and passenger of the white van.

Police have tracked the blue van to where it left the A13 at the Prince Regent Lane junction.

Any other witnesses who may have been on the A13 or New Barn Street on Thursday 21 August at about 3.10pm are asked to contact the unit on 020 7230 3908 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The cargo ship smashed to pieces just minutes after 31-strong crew were plucked to safety

The crew of a cargo ship were plucked to safety as their 35,000 tonne vessel snapped in half after smashing against rocks in the Strait of Gilbraltar.

The Liberian-registered Fedra had been dragging her anchor in a force 8 gale on Friday afternoon.

Despite earlier efforts of two tug boats to hold the ship clear of land its anchor broke and the stern of the vessel smashed against rocks at Europa Point - Europe's most southerly spot.

Defying extreme winds, a Spanish maritime rescue helicopter airlifted five men from the bow of the 24-year old bulk carrier Fedra as it lay pinned by pounding waves at the base of cliffs in Gilbraltar.

But the savage weather played havoc with the helicopter’s engine, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing with men still left stranded on deck, according to maritime and transport news portal Lloyd's List.

In small groups throughout the night, Gibraltarian rescuers hauled up wet, shivering and terrified crew members.

At one point, with 11 men still on board, the operation had to be suspended as the storm intensified.

'We thought we were going to lose them,' one exhausted rescuer told Lloyd's List.

'But at around 7am, we had a small weather window.

'We knew this was the only chance they had.'

By mid Saturday morning the Fedra had been ripped apart by the sea, torn in two close to the crew's accommodation quarters.

Both sections of the ship remain trapped against the cliffs, heaving and hammering violently in the pitching seas.

The men, mostly Filipino sailors, were treated in hospital but were later released and taken to a local hotel.

The Fedra is 24 years old and is owned by Fedra Navigation SA.

The horrific moment a hot air balloon exploded, leaving one dead and another injured

These amazing pictures show the horrific moment a hot air balloon exploded, killing one man and critically injuring another.m

The balloon's gondola erupted into flames when it crashed into power lines and was soon engulfed in the blaze. The pilot and passenger were both caught in the fire.

One died and the other is seriously injured after the accident at the annual balloon festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Witnesses said burning debris was sent flying to the ground as the balloon disintegrated in the fire.

Organisers at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta said it was unclear whether the passenger or pilot had died.

The second man was found unconscious at the crash scene in Bernalillo and remains in a critical condition.

Witness Glenn Vonderahe said he first saw the balloon land, then bounce back up and apparently hit some power lines.

It was caught up in the lines before the balloon section - envelope - broke away without the basket and the propane tanks hit the ground.

The crash will be investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board, according to National Guard Lieutenant Colonel John Fishburn.

Held every October, the balloon festival is one of Albuquerque's most popular tourist attractions.

Starting in 1972 in a shopping centre car park, it now hosts hundreds of balloons and pilots and draws tens of thousands of visitors to the city.

However, this is not the first fatality at the festival involving balloons becoming caught in power lines.

Last year a 60-year-old woman from California, plunged 70ft to her death and three others were taken to hospital after their balloon became caught up in them.

And in 1982, four people died when propane tanks on a large balloon exploded. Other fatalities were recorded in 1990, 1993 and 1998.

The one-in-a-million white house sparrow

It is dressed from top to tail in snowy white, a stunning contrast to the drab plumage of the rest of the flock.

But that's not the only reason that this house sparrow was a lucky spot.

The population of the birds, even the common brown ones, has been in sharp decline in recent years.

Once so common that they were culled, house sparrows have been added to the 'priority' list of Britain's most threatened species.

Thousands of pounds have been invested in determining the cause. Initial findings indicate that a decrease in insect numbers and lack of grass seed may be to blame - particularly in London.

These little sparrows, however, were fluttering in the much more hospitable fields of the west Wales countryside.

The flock of 20 was spotted by an amateur photographer holidaying near the site in New Quay, who was intrigued by the white bird in their midst.

David Lloyd, who works for an advertising company in London, is not a birdwatcher - but he knew he was seeing something special.

'This was the first time I had taken any pictures of small birds,' said Mr Lloyd, 45, from New Zealand.

'I was in a wonderful location because as you can see the white bird was on a picket fence and they were all landing there.

'I got a few shots and they weren't that great and so I decided to wait around for two or three more days and that's when I got these shots.'

The white feathers, which are very rare, are the result of a condition known as leucism.

This affects the pigmentation of the skin but unlike albinism it does not turn the eyes pink.

Sometimes leucism affects just parts of a bird's body, so you get blackbirds with white heads or wing patches.

'It is not too rare to see part white sparrows but I think this is a little bit unusual because this one is completely white,' said Mr Lloyd.

'I have read that these white sparrows are picked on and sometimes its own kind can turn against it. What I found unusual is that this one was so comfortable with the rest of the sparrows.'

An RSPB spokesman said the bird could have a shorter lifespan than usual, adding: 'Sometimes they can live absolutely normal lives with no problem at all, but equally if it doesn't benefit from the same camouflage characteristics as the other birds it can be more prone to predation from natural predators like sparrowhawks.'

'Bring it on, sweetie': Man kills bear with stick (and he's got the scars to prove it)

A Canadian man who was attacked by a bear while walking his dogs survived only after crushing the creature's skull with a stick.

British Columbia resident Jim West needed 60 stitches on his head and body to close wounds from the terrifying attack.

The 45-year-old was out walking his dogs on Saturday when, he said, he heard a grunt and turned around.

'All I saw was eyes full of hatred,' he told Canadian media.

'I had no option … So I stuck my foot up and tried to kick her in the face.'

The bear did not take his actions on the chin. She attacked him, knocking him to the ground.

'I rolled onto my stomach and clasped my hands at the back of my neck,' Mr West said.

'She tore into my skull at the back of my head, moved over and bit me on the left side of my body, on my ribs and left arm.'

But Mr West was not about to go down without a fight. Battling to his feet, he managed to grab a stick about as thick as his arm.

'I said, in effect, bring it on sweetie,' he said. 'I took one step forward — smash! I swung the stick and broke it over her head.

'She kind of stood there and shook it off, like she was stunned. I realised if I didn't continue the attack she would knock me to the ground again and I would not get up.

'I swung my piece of wood like a sledgehammer driving spikes and I kept swinging till she was lying flat on the ground and there was blood coming out of her nose.'

The five-foot-nine man eventually crushed the bear's skull with the stick, killing it. He then walked a kilometre and a half to a local lodge, where he was transported to hospital.

Even conservation officers were shocked by the terrifying incident, saying they were surprised he had lived.

Sadly, the bear was the mother of two young cubs - who had to be euthanised because it was believed they would not survive the cruel Canadian winter without her.

Even so, he said, he did not regret what he had done - believing it had been necessary for him to survive.

A baaa-d idea? Aussie sheep made to wear gas masks so scientists can see how their breath can affect climate

It sounds like a woolly idea, but Australian sheep are to be fitted with gas masks to find out how much they are affecting the climate.

Researchers will fit the masks over the sheep for a short time to obtain a reading from their breath so it can be established how much methane gas they are emitting.

'Operation Gas Mask' will soon swing into action following a report by Australian climate adviser Ross Garnaut who said sheep helped create greenhouse gases and it would be better if farmers turned to kangaroos as a source of meat.

Sheep and cattle have been blamed for emitting the potent greenhouse gas methane from the mouth and the rear and while researchers in the past have even fitted plastic trousers on a handful of sheep to gather gas, it has been agreed that using masks is a better alternative.

Professor James Rowe, of the Sheep Co-operative Research Centre, said that in any case 98 per cent of methane emissions came from a sheep's mouth.

He explained that during the campaign selected sheep among the country's population of 90million animals would be rounded up at research stations and staff would hold a mask in place over their mouths for about a minute to collect their breath.

'It's a mask over the nostril-mouth area as the animal breathes out,' he said. 'That air is then captured into a bladder, not too different from a football bladder. The animal is not in any distress - they don't really object to it.'

In any case, he pointed out, "putting plastic trousers onto sheep is a much more difficult task than holding a mask in place for a minute or so."

It is hoped the research, with the collected gas being analysed in laboratories, will establish which breeds of sheep are genetically predisposed to emit less methane.

Scientists also believe they will be able to learn about the diet of sheep so that changes can be made to their eating habits to lessen methane emissions.

In his recent report, Professor Garnaut said greenhouse gases over Australia would be cut if people ate less beef and lamb and more kangaroo meat, as kangaroos do not belch methane.

He has suggested that while cattle and sheep numbers could be reduced, the kangaroo population could be increased to 240million.

But Professor Rowe says the kangaroo idea probably would not work, asking: 'Have you tried to muster (round up) kangaroos?'

Kangaroo meat is on sale in Australian supermarkets but few households eat it. The meat is usually purchased for pets

'It's like winning the lottery': Jobless Afghan mother of seven gets £170,000 benefits and lives in £1million council house

A family living on benefits in a £1.2 million house in west London told today how they felt they had won the lottery.

Mother-of-seven Toorpakai Saindi gets £170,000 a year in benefits and the council pays the property's private landlord £12,500 a month to accommodate the family who fled Afghanistan seven years ago.

The house in Acton has seven bedrooms, two reception rooms, a dining room and two kitchens, as well as an extensive back garden.

Mrs Saindi's son, Jawad, 20, told the London Evening Standard: "If someone gave you a lottery ticket, would you leave it? No. You take what you get given.

"It's not that we wanted this big house - my mum is not happy because she has to clean all of it. The first day we moved in here we got lost because it was so big."

It is owned by landlord Ajit Panesar, who is being paid double the normal market value of the property.

Mr Panesar said: "I can't help it if the law says I should get paid that amount of money."

The Saindis were first housed in a three-bedroom property in Enfield.

Four years later, they moved to a five-bedroom house in Ealing and three months ago were placed at their current address which they are entitled to have by law given the size of their family.

Jawad, who is planning to study at the private Regents Park Business School, said the family had left Afghanistan because of the civil unrest.

He added: "It was a big choice to go to another country and we came here for the education for the little ones. It was great in Afghanistan, every house over there is enormous - this place would be as big as something we would give chickens but we are just grateful for what we can get."

Jawad, who lives at home with his mother, three sisters and three brothers, said he could not believe how much the landlord was being paid by the council. Their father is separated from Mrs Saindi.

Ealing council, who housed the family, blamed the Government, saying it set the rates for the property.

However, Whitehall officials insisted the council could have put the family in a cheaper home.

Mrs Saindi approached Ealing council, which had a legal obligation to find her a seven-bedroom property, in July after being made homeless.

It is understood the council did not have a suitable house available so turned to the private sector.

But the move has angered neighbours and campaigners who say vast sums of taxpayers' money are being wasted in housing benefit, and claim a more suitable property could have been found.

Mark Walllace, campaign director of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: "The system has gone seriously wrong when one family is costing taxpayers so much. This family could be helped without the need for such a huge bill."

Mrs Saindi, whose children are aged from eight to 22, said: "I always thought the housing benefit was a lot, but I'm told this is what it is for homes like this here. It's a lot of money but the council pay it. This is their problem. I don't know why they pay so much."

Mr Panesar says he checked the price with the Rent Service, part of the Department of Work and Pensions, which agreed the rate was acceptable.

It is believed the figure is so high because the Rent Service grouped Acton with wealthy Westminster during boundary changes in April.

The 5in tortoise saved by doctors who removed an egg-sized bladder stone

The X-ray said it all in black and white.

At just over five inches long herself, Polly the tortoise certainly didn't have room for the mysterious egg-shaped growth deep inside her shell.

So vets at Bristol Zoo had little choice but to remove it in an hour-long operation.

They found a stone in her bladder, thought to have been caused by a build-up of calcium, which measured a considerable 1.5in by 1.2in and weighed 19grams.

The stone would have caused the African pancake tortoise a painful death if the X-ray - part of a routine health check - hadn't spotted it.

During the operation, vets cut a hole in the bottom of her shell and removed the stone, before glueing the shell back into place.

Now, encased in a stretchy red bandage, five-year-old Polly is making a slow but steady recovery in the zoo's reptile house.

Sharon Redrobe, head of veterinary services, said: 'We X-rayed the tortoise as part of a standard health check and were amazed when we saw the size of the bladder stone.

'Anaesthetising a tortoise is quite tricky and requires specialist training, but she is likely to have been in some discomfort so we took the decision to remove the stone as soon as possible.

'I've performed bladder stone operations on tortoises before, but never on a pancake tortoise and never with a bladder stone this big.

Despite initial concerns that we might not be able to get the bladder stone out of the hole we made in the shell, the operation went very well and there were no complications.'

African pancake tortoises are classed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

They are most commonly found in Tanzania and Kenya and are named so because of their smooth, flattened pancake-shaped shell.

Several have been hatched successfully in Bristol Zoo's incubators.

The amazing monkey waiters that serve tables in a Japanese restaurant

A Japanese restaurant has changed the face of customer service by employing two monkeys to help with the table service.

The Kayabukiya tavern, a traditional 'sake house' north of Tokyo has employed a pair of uniformed Japanese macaque called Yat-chan and Fuku-chan to serve patrons.

Twelve-year-old Yat-chan is the crowd-pleaser as he moves quickly between tables taking customer drink orders.

The younger of the two, Fuku-chan is quick to give the diners a hot towel to help them clean their hands before they order their drinks, as is the custom in Japan.

Yat-chan and Fuku-chan, who are both certified by the local authorities to work in the tavern are well appreciate by customers, who tip them with soya beans.

'The monkeys are actually better waiters than some really bad human ones,' customer Takayoshi Soeno said.

Tavern owner Kaoru Otsuka, 63, originally kept the monkeys as household pets - but when the older one started aping him he realised they were capable of working in the restaurant.

'Yat-chan first learned by just watching me working in the restaurant,' he said.

'It all started when one day I gave him a hot towel out of curiosity and he brought the towel to the customer.'

A regular of the tavern, 58-year-old Shoichi Yano, says the animals are like her children.

'Actually, [they're] better,' she said. 'My son doesn't listen to me but Yat-chan will.'

Some clients, like retiree Miho Takikkawa, say Yat-chan appears to understand their exact orders.

'We called out for more beer just then and it brought us some beer," she said. "It's amazing how it seems to understand human words.'

The monkeys work in shifts of up to two hours a day due to Japanese animal rights regulations.

But the owner is hoping to bring up the next generation of monkey waiters, and is already training three baby monkeys to work as waiters.