Let’s face it, the world is full of weird and fascinating things. Just the history we know about is full of fascinating coincidences and mysteries we’ve not figured out yet, and every day, science introduces us to things that we barely even dreamed about before. The more we learn, the more we realize that we don’t know. Today, give your brain some fun facts to chew on, and see what surprises this list can introduce you to.
1. Komodo Dragons Can Kill You With a Single Bite
Komodo dragons are already the world’s largest lizards, but as if that wasn’t enough, they have a septic bite. Their mouths are so chock-full of dangerous bacteria that if they manage to get a good bite in, it’s only a matter of time before you die, unless of course, you have access to life-saving antibiotics. The creepy thing is that they know this, and if they bite you, they’ll just follow you for days until you finally give up the ghost.
2. Rasputin Had to Be Killed Four Times
Gregor Rasputin, known as the mad monk, had to go, or at least that’s what the Russian nobles of the day thought. He was a rather hypnotic man who had a nasty hold over Tsar Nicolas and his family, and so they invited him to dinner on a cold night in December of 1915. Then they poisoned him, and when that didn’t work, they shot him. When that didn’t work, they shot him again, and finally beat him severely, something that could not seem to kill him. Finally, they threw him in the river, where he presumable drowned. As far as we know.
3. Your Cat Blinking Means It Loves You
If you’re a cat owner, you know that love can often be bought with a full food dish and a cardboard box. However, there are times, usually right between scratching up the furniture and waking you up at dawn for breakfast, where it seems that your cat really cares. If your cat looks in your face and blinks slowly, that means it likes you and trusts you. You can oftentimes get a blinking contest going on if you do the same thing.
4. Charles Schultz Died the Day Before the Last Peanuts Strip Ran
Charles Schultz created the much beloved and surprisingly dark comic strip Peanuts, and any one who met the man knew that his work was his life. Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Sally and Snoopy were all a big part of who their creator was, and there’s a certain terrifying poignancy to the fact that Schultz passed away of a heart attack the night before the last strip ran. The last strip shows a pensive Snoopy thinking over the last half century of work, and Charles Schultz bidding his fans a fond farewell.
5. Human Hair is Amazingly Hard to Destroy
You may disagree if you have ever set your hair on fire, but the truth is that fire is just about the only thing that really destroys human hair. It decays very slowly, and it cannot be affected by water, cold or any other natural phenomena. Hair has helped identify the remains of lost Arctic explorers when there was nothing else left to work with.
6. Bees Don’t Poop in Space
As any beekeeper will tell you, bees are amazingly fastidious. They throw out dust, debris from the hive, they only defecate outside of the hive, and when the drones have served their purpose, they throw those out as well. So what did bees do when they were taken up into space during the eighties? For the length of time when they were confined to their frame, they simply stopped.
7. Birds Use Ants as Pest Control
Your average wild bird is a flying colony of parasites like mites and fleas, and the birds don’t like it anymore than you do. Some birds have come up with a pretty good strategy for dealing with these pests, and that involves getting ants to bite them. These birds swoop down on ant hills and stir things up until the frustrated ants start biting them, dropping small amounts of venom onto the bird’s feathers. This in turn prevents the feathers from being so welcoming to other insects. As a bonus, birds who eat ants know that the ants have recently dropped all the toxins they can, and that means that they are a perfect post-fumigating snack.
8. Carnivores Can’t Seem to Taste Sweet Things… But It Doesn’t Seem to Stop Them
Somewhere over the past thousands of years, it seems that carnivores have lost their ability to taste sweetness. That is, the tastebuds on the tongue that are responsible for tasting sweetness are not present the same way they are for other animals. However, after the study was produced, the researcher got hundreds of calls from cat owners saying that their cats eat plenty of sweet things. The final statement seems to say that even if cats can’t taste sweet things, they will eat them anyway.
9. Some Flowers Smell Like Rotting Meat
Some flowers smell amazingly good, and some flowers have smells that humans cannot detect at all, but still other flowers smell like rotting meat! The titan arum comes from a family of flowers known as carrion flowers, and this enormous seven-foot bloom puts out an odor of rotting meat to attract pollinators.
10. Monarch Butterflies Remember a Mountain That Was Never There
Monarch butterflies make a migration of more than three thousand miles, and the journey is so long that it actually exceeds the lifespan of any one insect. Eggs are laid along the trip, and the butterfly that started the trip never finishes it. Even more incredible, monarchs have such a well-developed genetic memory that they are dodging a mountain that hasn’t been there in thousands of years. As the butterflies fly over Lake Superior going south, they briefly veer east at the same point every time and then head south again. Biologists and geologists believe that this is a response to the fact that Lake Superior was once one of the largest mountains in the world, and that the butterflies are avoiding it even eons after it has disappeared.
11. Cuddling Leads to Attachment
Be very careful who you cuddle, because you never know when biology is going to rear up and tell you something that your brain knows is dumb. Human beings are tactile creatures. Even if you’re going through a rough time with relationships, hugs and cuddles feel good. This is actually an evolutionary trigger that is designed to stop us from killing each other and to form bonds, and it is all due to this little chemical called oxytocin. When you cuddle with someone, your body releases oxytocin, which floods your body with feelings of satisfaction and happiness. This bonds you to the other person, even if you know that they are bad news, so be careful who you hug!
12. You Can Have Your Body Eaten By Vultures After You Die
We’re most familiar with burying people in the ground or cremating them. In times of war, burial at sea was a common way of getting rid of the body. However, one funerary practice that has gone out of fashion over the last two thousand years is air burial. In an air burial, the deceased is placed on top of a tall wooden frame or on top of a mountain. Their remains are left to feed the birds that are the only animals that can access the body. This is an important tenet of the Zoroastrian religion, but there are also quite a few people who follow this tradition for ecological reasons.
13. A Baleen Whale May Be the Loneliest Animal in the World
Whales use their songs to call to one another over vast distances, but what happens when one whale isn’t sending off the right calls? In 1989, scientists started recording a specific whale with a song at 52 hertz. Fin whales’ songs come in at about 20 hertz, while blue whales come in at 15 hertz or so. Humpback whales cries are much higher than those of the whale in question. Scientists believe that this whale may be deaf, which means that it cannot moderate its cries as well as others of its species. This lone whale has been wandering the oceans looking for someone to respond for more than two decades now.
14. You Can Survive in Space Without Protection
In our favorite sci-fi movies, getting shoved out of a spacecraft always spelled certain death. However, while its certainly not good for you, it is theorized that you can stay alive for at least a few minutes, though you will not be conscious for them. The pressure inside your body will expand, and the water in your body will vaporize, causing excessive swelling, but though you will be paralyzed and knocked unconscious in very short order, you can live long enough for your fellow astronauts to rescue you.
15. A Mushroom Is the World’s Largest Organism
While the blue whale is the largest animal in the world, it is still dwarfed by the sequoia tree. However, bigger than the sequoia is actually a giant mushroom called Armillaria ostoyae, which is is about 4 square miles in size and can actually cover more than 1500 football fields. This monster, found in Oregon, is at least 2400 years old, and it might be as old as 8000 years old, making it one of the world’s longest lived organisms on top of it.
16. Whale Indigestion: Surprisingly Precious
Ambergris is a material that has been highly prized for hundreds of years as an important material in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Though it can be replicated, there is nothing like the real thing, which is essentially the result of male sperm whales eating too many squids. The beaks from the squids irritate the whale’s belly, forcing the whale to cover them in a fatty secretion that is then expelled with the whale’s feces. The fatty secretion, complete with squid beaks, floats in the ocean becoming hardened over time, and in a little while, the mass solidifies and starts to exude a pine-like odor. A small lump of this material can sell for thousands of dollars to the right bidder.
17. Komodo Dragon Females Can Produce Eggs Without A Male
As if their septic bite wasn’t enough, now we find out that female Komodo dragons do not need a male to breed. They are one of less than 70 vertebrate species that can reproduce in a method called parthenogenesis. In this process, the mother provides her offspring with a doubled set of her chromosomes, rather than the half set that she would normally provide to her children. The results are not clones, but instead offspring that are completely viable, if genetically identical to the mother.
18. You Are Younger Than Your Teeth
This is not entirely true, because you lose your baby teeth in fairly short order, but your baby teeth begin growing about 6 months before you are born. This means that your teeth start to develop before you can survive independently outside of the womb. One in about 2000 babies is born with at least one tooth visible.
19. Our Noses Are Amazing
We all know that most animals have better noses than humans, but the truth is that the human nose is pretty incredible. Scientists theorize that our noses can distinguish between about 50,000 different scents. These scents are very tied into our memory, on top of that, and you will find that in general, you can pick up a scent that you remember from years ago and retrieve that memory very easily. This is why walking into a place that uses the same disinfectant that your primary school used can make you want a nap and a juice box.
The world is full of fantastic and at times, frankly terrifying facts. The more you know about the world around you, the more amazed you will be, or well, the more frightened you will be, but at least now you know what to watch out for!