We prepared for you a cocktail of celebrity secrets, historical facts, and oddities from the animal world, enough get your lazy brain off the couch.
We advise discretion, mostly because blowing things makes you a terrorist. Even so, you can share this with friends and colleagues. They recovered from the surprise Trump victory just in time to have their minds blown again.
1. In 1726 an English woman named Mary Toft gave birth to rabbits.
Mary Toft was the woman that gave birth to rabbits. Or at least she tricked everyone into believing so.
You might think that people had better things to do back in the 18th century than play medical hoaxes. You should guess again. Mary created one of the most exciting stories of her time, one that reached even King George I.
What was most astounding is that the prank fooled many reputed surgeons of the time. It is enough to look in the archives. The story was the equivalent of today’s “viral” content.
2. There are more fake flamingos than the ones real.
Plastic is fantastic. The fact that there are more fake flamingos than real out there is a clue that we are gradually replacing the natural world.
Plastic flamingos are the American interpretation of the garden dwarves. It all started in 1957 when 3D printing was just a designer’s wet dream. Don Featherstone thought that Florida’s landscape missed the presence of the emblematic pink birds.
What started as a joke, evolved to become a symbol of trash culture. You could not call yourself a proper American if you have not had a plastic flamingo on your front lawn, next to your “Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted!”
However, more recent times did a lot of harm to the still birds. People gradually replaced them with signs like “Let’s make America great again!”
3. France had guillotine executions until 1981.
Guillotines will take your mind to the terror days of the French Revolution (1789). However, the execution method was valid and in use until recent times.
The French had an awkward sense of mercy two hundred years ago. In their eyes, the guillotine was the most humane form of execution. Although life ended at a blink of an eye, it is hard to imagine the terror of knowing that your head will roll like a bowling ball. Crowds attracted by the formidable device would make things even harder for the doomed.
Unbelievably, the guillotine survived until its abolishment in 1981. Nevertheless, the last execution took place in September 1977 in Marseille. Hamida Djandoubi had the incredible misfortune of being the last person executed by beheading in the entire Western world.
4. The Unicorn is Scotland’s national animal.
The unicorn is just as allusive as Scottish independence from the United Kingdom.
Scottish traditions are deeply rooted in the world of myths and superstitions. Even so, there are little clues to explain why the country clinched itself to an invented animal.
Before England and Scotland came under a single ruler, the bagpipe players had a coat of arms that feature two unicorns holding a shield. Browsing through the archives shows that the unicorn appeared first in the 15th century.
The unicorn is just as crucial as the bald eagle is for the Americans and the emu for the Australians. Don’t even dare to think of visiting Scotland without believing there is a remote possibility for zoology books to be wrong.
5. Eskimos keep their food in refrigerators to keep it from freezing.
Seen from the comfort of the geography book the Arctic region is one giant freezer.
A refrigerator would be the last object to consider vital for survival there. However, the phenomenon of “freezer burn” makes it very useful to keep food at a higher temperature than that of the environment.
Although Inuits do not need to keep the fridges plugged in, they do help by maintaining food out of contact with the frigid cold air.
Every refrigerator unit is an insulated box. This works to preserve cold inside at normal latitudes. Nevertheless, the -10°C you consider “cold” becomes “warm” when outside temperatures go as low as -50°C.
Next time you see an Inuit sending his polar bear to fetch a beer from the fridge do not rush to declare it fiction.
6. Sean Connery rejected the role of Gandalf.
Yes, you read it right. Sean Connery rejected the opportunity of playing Gandalf.
Resist the urge to let your imagination loose. Trying to include the Scottish actor in the epic battles that swept through the Middle Earth is pointless.
The former James Bond rejected the role because he was not able to understand the script. Call us superficial, but you would never expect such a blooper from someone of his caliber.
Sean Connery was offered a record $10 million per film, as well as 15% of the total box office earnings. Judging by the fact that the tickets totaled $2.9 billion, you could say that Connery started to hate math.
With Connery out of the way, Ian McKellen embraced the role of Gandalf and gave the production its emblematic elder figure.
7. On Black Friday 2014, Cards Against Humanity was replaced with a “Bullshit” box.
On Black Friday 2014, “Cards Against Humanity” delivered something in line with their dark humor.
In an attempt to mock this holiday of mindless shopping, the team found a Texas cattle ranch that sold bull feces. Because it might create health hazards, the prankers made sure the “content” was pasteurized.
The “Bullshit Box” sell very well judging by the fact that it cost $6. Things went even further. The limited edition became collectible and even managed to fetch $36 in the aftermarket.
The point proved by the creators of “Cards Against Humanity” was that people are dumb and ready to buy anything. We are still not sure how they got the idea. It might have something to do with the hilarious random sentences created by their cards.
8. “Humpty Dumpty” was not an egg.
“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.”
If you dig deeper in your memory and recover the remainder of the verses, you will be genuinely shocked. The nursery rhyme includes no mention of the fact that the character was an egg.
With the tradition stretching very back in time, most historians agree that the correct interpretation is less funny. Chances are Humpty Dumpty was some cannon. The fall of Humpty depicts the end of a siege, while “All the king’s horses and all the king’s men” means the royal army.
Of course, introducing your kids to the subtleties of the English Civil War is never easy. Given the fact, portraying Humpty Dumpty as a clumsy egg can continue.
9. Falling coconuts are more dangerous than shark attacks.
“Dead beneath the coconut palms, that’s the life for me!”
The idea that the tasty coconuts can turn deadly inspired American poet Frederick Seidel to write a few line on the topic. Although it doesn’t sound bad, death by coconut strike is painful and tragic.
Scientists went as far as compiling all the cases reported in the recent period. The conclusion is sinister, mostly because we perceived danger as coming from a different direction.
Coconuts are more deadly than sharks, and this is not an urban legend. While you might feel safe you didn’t enter the shark-infested waters, your decision to stay on the beach might be the wrong one.
It should be common sense to bring down ripped coconuts. Even so, cities around the world still pay substantial damages to pedestrians hit by the falling bombs. Some administrations went as far as removing coconut trees from their beaches.
10. Eating 30 grams of polar bear liver is enough to kill a human.
The liver is a delicacy, except the time it comes from a polar bear.
The latitudes at which polar bears live are famous for making picky explorers eat anything they could catch. Science recently explained a mysterious Arctic illness with consuming the liver of the mighty white beasts.
The reason is simple. The liver of animals living in such harsh conditions contains a great concentration of vitamin A. Forget about the prevailing myth that going over the daily dose is fine. Vitamins can sometimes turn deadly.
Of course, eating polar bear liver is highly unlikely. You have to kill the beast first. If you think that those animals are as fluffy as the stuffed ones sitting on your bed since childhood, you are in for a surprise.
They can reach 400 kg, and there are many cases in which they attacked humans without reason.
11. The University of Oxford in England is older than the Aztec Empire.
Sometimes, history’s timeline plays tricks with our mind.
The Aztec Empire sounds like something ancient. However, the political entity formed in the 14th century and was annihilated by the Spanish conquistadors in 1521.
Across the pond, the English had time for better things than bloody sacrifices and fighting off foreign invaders. The relative isolation of the Albion allowed the nation to pursue higher values through education.
Although the exact year of foundation is not known, Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Students were overwhelmed with homework here since 1096.
You probably now realize where you got the chronology wrong. With so many kings, wars, and betrayals to focus on, history books mention Europe’s university tradition as a side note.
12. The lobster was food for the poor until recently.
From every angle you might look, lobster is today a meal for the fancy.
However, this was not always the case. Before lobsters entered gourmet cuisine, they were food for the poor. Dubbed “the cockroaches of the sea,” the abundance of the red crustaceans meant they were accessible and cheap.
Its low price made lobster the perfect food for servants and inmates in prison. In fact, history even has his fair share of protests where people asked not to be fed lobster more than three times a week.
However, everything changed once the lobster population declined and they could be caught alive. By the early 1950s, it was already a delicacy. Since then, prices grew continuously.
13. Surgeons who play video games at least 3 hours a week make 37% fewer errors.
According to a recently published study, surgeons who play video games are better at their job.
No, the news is not a hoax. 33 specialists participated in a test that took place at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York. Nine of the analyzed doctors performed not only better but also faster.
What “better” means when you have an opened human body on the table? Well, it seems that making fewer mistakes is the first step. Playing video games at least 3 hours in a week led to a total boost in performance of 42% (with 27% faster and with 37% fewer mistakes).
Although promising, the study also highlighted the other end of the spectrum. Students who play video games for more than three hours a week fail medical school and never become surgeons.
14. For every human on Earth, there are 1.6 million ants.
Next time you laugh at the tiny scale of the ant world, just remember this fact. For every human on Earth, there are 1.6 million ants.
For number geeks, the entertainment potential doesn’t end there. It seems that things go even further. Given the humans/ant ratio, the weight of all humans is equal with the one of all ants.
It is easy to imagine the day when ants would challenge our domination of the planet and assemble in incredible numbers. However, chances for that apocalyptic scenario might receive a severe blow coming from China.
With China’s single child law now revoked, ants are in an uncomfortable spot. And that spot is not the sole of a boot.
15. Octopuses have three hearts and nine brains.
The octopuses are more than the pets Japanese keep close by.
Scientists tend to shift our focus towards the oddity of the octopus’s body. Three hearts pump blue blood, and this is enough to make us wonder who brought them on the planet.
Things get even more complicated. Each tentacle has its nervous point, a ganglion that controls movement independent from the rest of the body. However, the octopus still relies on a central brain for more crucial life decision.
If octopuses aren’t creepy enough, you should also know they have an incredible ability to squeeze through small orifices. You are fully entitled to check that bathtub drain twice.
16. Diamond hail stone rain on Jupiter and Saturn.
Diamonds are a woman’s best friends. Too bad women come from Venus.
In a press release that shocked the stomach of jewel makers worldwide, NASA scientist announced that diamonds might be one of the most common materials in the Solar System.
Nature needs millions of years to transform carbon into diamonds. The same process takes place much faster inside the incredible gravitational pull of giant planets like Saturn and Jupiter.
We all hate hail stone, but we should consider ourselves lucky it is not purring down diamonds. The gems are the also the hardest material on Earth.
Don’t get your hopes high. Elon Musk will never take you to Jupiter or Saturn. You can go back to the regular window shopping.
17. Betty White is older than sliced bread.
Betty White is a dinosaur that defies death and natural history museums fight to host her once she is gone.
The 94-year-old has often been compared with inventions of the past century, just to show how far back in time we have to go to find her birth date. Incredibly, the first loaf of sliced bread was sold on July 7, 1928.
Moreover, Guinness World Records recognized White in 2013 as the female entertainer with the longest television career. We advise you not to search photos of young Betty. You might develop an awkward attraction, even for today’s standards.
Everyone loves Betty but asks at the same why she doesn’t have children. As far as we know, Betty targeted her motherly love on pets.
18. Cleopatra is not as old as you might think.
Everyone knows that Cleopatra ruled Egypt and that the Great Pyramid dates from the same historical period.
Hold it right there! You are about to make a severe mistake. Cleopatra died in 30 BC, which puts her closer to our times, then the moment ancient Egyptians erected the Great Pyramid.
Although assimilated as the last Pharaoh, Cleopatra had little to do with authentic Egyptian culture. She was in fact of Macedonian Greek origin. Also, she spoke Greek and was unable to read hieroglyphs.
When Cleopatra came to power, the Great Pyramid of Giza was already more than 2400 years old.
19. Drug-lord Pablo Escobar introduced Hippos in Colombia’s wild.
They do not call them “hungry, hungry, hippos” for nothing.
Pablo Escobar’s love for opulence went as far as creating a safari populated with animals brought from Africa. Although mostly set to waste once the drug lord perished, the improvised zoo offered an incredible chance to at least some of the residents.
The initial population of four hippos now evolved to 40. The explosion shows how invasive the species can be and also how quickly it can adapt.
Hippos are herbivores of gentle nature that often coexist with humans. However, they are by far the biggest killers on the African continent. It is their apparent friendliness that creates the hazard. Especially when baby hippos are involved, the large mammals become territorial and kill without a second thought.