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Monday, December 18, 2006

It's Better to Give Than to Receive Vomit

Dorothy Ferreira of Montauk got the weirdest Christmas present ever from her 82-year-old sister in Iowa.

Inside she found what looked like a gnarled, funky candle but could actually be a huge hunk of petrified whale vomit worth as much as $18,000.

“I called my sister and asked her, ‘What the heck did you send me?’ ” recalled Ms. Ferreira, 67, who has lived here on the eastern tip of Long Island since 1982. “She said: ‘I don’t know, but I found it on the beach in Montauk 50 years ago and just kept it around. You’re the one who lives by the ocean; ask someone out there what it is.’ ” [Link, via Neatorama]
The waxy lump may indeed be ambergris—a substance retched up by sperm whales and prized by our ancestors for its "strangely alluring aroma." Which makes me wonder what else our ancestors tried dabbing behind their ears.

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