“We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”—Dr. Seuss
Ever just stop and think that life and the world are ridiculously weird sometimes? All the interesting plants, animals, and, oh yea, humans who have graced this planet with their antics throughout the ages have ensured that there’s never a dull moment to be had. From animals acting like people to people acting like animals, we’ve really seen it all. In fact, I think that the only thing better than experiencing something random happening is knowing about all the random things that go on in this world–if for no other reason other than to be able to impress others with our mind-boggling knowledge of random trivia! With that in mind, here are 43 totally random facts about this weird world of ours, and some of the inhabitants that make it what it is.
43. Ferocious Females
When armadillos mate, the female has the unique physiological ability to postpone the progress of her pregnancy (that’s a lot of “P”s) until she feels she is in an appropriate environment. And all this can be done with no harm to the little unborn critter, who stays (presumably) blissfully unaware. It’s an adaption known as “delayed implantation.”
Some things just aren’t meant to be. A New York woman decided to commit suicide by jumping off the Empire State Building’s 86th floor, only to be blown back safely onto the floor below by a strong wind. Let’s all hope she took advantage of this new lease on life that she was lucky enough to get! After all, that’s the sort of freak occurrence that does tend to drive people to religion, or at the very least some kind of epiphany.
41. Good Samaritans
Switzerland has a law forbidding the ownership of a single guinea pig. If you want to have one of these critters as a pet, you are obliged to own at least two or more—in order to ensure that they won’t be lonely. I guess they’re not so neutral when it comes to the emotional well-being of animals!
… Sorry Switzerland. The neutrality jokes just come to easy.
40. Dancing in the Dark
To many of us, the tango comes across as one of the classiest and most elegant styles of ballroom dancing. I mean, if you’re anything like me, the name itself conjures up an image of two dark and glamorous strangers pulling graceful moves in a dimly-lit, exotic club.
But the origins of the dance are not exactly classy—in the early days it was often used by Argentinian prostitutes, in order to seduce men into becoming clients.
39. Bear-ly Succeeding
The Polish army adopted a bear named Wojtek during World War II and gave it the official rank of private so that it could be transported around from place to place with them, carrying their equipment and helping to boost morale. After a few years around humans, Wojtek loved beer, cigarettes, and wrestling—and was eventually promoted to corporal.
38. The Key Fact
A spot in Colorado known as the Baldpate Inn is home to a growing collection of over 20,000 keys, as a tribute to the mystery novel Seven Keys to Baldpate, which the hotel was named after. Now that’s what you call a superfan!
37. Where There’s Wool, There’s a Way
George Washington personally owned a flock of between 600-1,000 Hog Island sheep, a rare breed only found in Virginia. Today, curators at his Mount Vernon estate breed and care for their descendants.
You won’t see those in an ordinary pet store!
36. Mr. First
From the late 1920s until the mid-1960s, a man by the name of Omero C. Catan became known as “Mr. First” in New York City. In what became an ongoing tradition, he was the first person to participate in over 500 openings in New York and beyond—including being the first person to skate on the Rockefeller Center rink, the first to put a token in a parking meter, and the first to drive through the Lincoln Tunnel.
35. Doves of War
A promotional stunt called “Doves of Peace” was planned for the 1948 Democratic Convention in Philadelphia. It was supposed to involve releasing pigeons to fly across the room as a symbol of peace, in order to impress the audiences watching this first ever convention televised across the nation. Unfortunately, things did not go exactly as planned—the pigeons had been sitting in the cage so long that by the time it was opened, several of them restlessly and angrily darted right at the podium, others had died and fell straight to the ground, while others, umm, went to the bathroom on the shocked and confused crowd. Lucky for the event’s planners, their party still went on to win the election. Who knows, maybe the birds’ antics helped!
34. Catchy Tune
When Kazakh gold medalist Maria Dmitrienko took the podium in Kuwait for the medal ceremony she had trained her whole life for, she was shocked to hear an unfamiliar song playing in place of her national anthem. It turned out that the song playing was the fictional Kazakh anthem from the satirical film Borat, which mocks her country of Kazakhstan, and that the event’s staff had mistaken it for the country’s actual anthem. Needless to say, more than a few people watching were unimpressed!
Although if you happened to be a Kazakh fan, there was at least some form of mild consolation: Coach Anvar Yunusmetov would later tell the Kazakh news agency Tengrinews that tournament organisers had also mixed things up and gotten the Serbian national anthem wrong.
33. Oldest Joke in the Book
If anyone thinks that “your mom” jokes are solely within the domain of immature teenagers, internet memes, and wild comedies, think again—a 3,500 year-old one was found on an ancient Babylonian tablet in Iraq back in 1976.
32. Excuses, Excuses
When trusted NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams was caught making up stories on-air about his experiences while working in a war zone, he explained that he likely “misremembered” whether or not his helicopter was shot down (it wasn’t) because he may have had a brain tumor. To be clear, as far as anyone knows, he did not have a brain tumor and has never sought any medical attention for one in the three years since. I guess he meant that it was just one of those hypothetical temporary brain tumors which implants false memories in your head and then disappears without a trace.
31. Side Interests
When he wasn’t busy fighting wars and serving as the Emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte found the time to write a romance novel, called Clisson et Eugénie. Because why not?
Looking for a new career path? Be glad you don’t live in Victorian times, where you might have wound up in the career of “pure finder.” Don’t be fooled by this profession’s inviting name—it consisted of collecting dog poop off the streets and selling it to leather manufacturers.
29. Getting Political
Dustin the Turkey, a hand-puppet from an Irish TV show, has campaigned for president of Ireland in two separate elections—representing the “Poultry Party.”
28. On the Llam
Two llamas took the social media world by storm in 2015 when they went loose in a retirement community and ran around evading capture, all while on camera. Eventually, three onlookers were able to do what the professionals weren’t and catch the adorable creatures.
27. Mirror Mirror on the Wall
The “mirror test” is one of the key ways in which scientists determine the intelligence of a species. It involves placing an animal in front of a mirror to observe whether it can realize that the image it sees is a reflection of itself rather than a different animal, and many species fail. Nevertheless, some individual animals can stand out from the crowd—the late Koko the Gorilla passed this test, but the gorilla species in general failed.
26. Auspicious Date
Both the deaths of Adolf Hitler and Osama Bin Laden were announced to the public on the date of May 1st, in 1945 and 2011 respectively. Is this some kind of illuminati conspiracy, or just a really bad horoscope day for evil mass murderers?
25. The Great Debate
A dispute exists among some scientists as to whether corn is a vegetable or a grain—or maybe even a fruit! Who would have thought that something so harmless could cause such a controversy?
24. Cross-Cultural Encounter
Despite not being home to any significant number of Jewish citizens, the ancient book of Jewish law known as the Talmud is a best-seller in South Korea thanks to a man named Park Hyunjun, who devoted himself to sharing his personal interest in the book with his fellow countrymen.
23. Vanishing Hitchhiker
An urban legend suggests that the ghost of a girl named “Resurrection Mary” who was hit and killed by a car in the 1930s visits passersby on a road outside of Chicago, hitching a ride only to disappear into thin air without a trace when her driver passes the local cemetery.
22. Mystery Creature
A mysterious wolf-like creature was shot and killed in Montana in May 2018, causing a flurry of speculation as to what the unknown animal’s identity could be. The mystery was solved about a month later, when DNA tests revealed that it was just a plain-old gray wolf who just had some different features than most of his peers.
21. Uncharted Territory
The Four Corners Monument in the southwestern United States has been a popular tourist attraction for years. However, not everyone knows that it has a Canadian counterpart–a quadripoint connecting the provinces and territories of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories. Unlike the US version, this one is far from a popular tourist attraction–it’s in such a remote location that there are no roads or railways around for hundreds of kilometers.
20. A Cushy Job
One of the most popular fads of the roaring ‘20s was called “pole sitting” and, like the name suggests, it consisted of sitting on top of flagpoles or other similar objects for as long as one could—often trying to outdo one’s friends in lengths of time spent up there. Interest in this fad continued throughout the decade until the Great Depression took people’s minds off it. I guess those depressions will do that…
19. We Are the Champions
Although North Korea has long been known for outrageously ridiculous propaganda, a 2014 report claiming that their state-controlled media informed the public that they had won the World Cup when they hadn’t actually even earned a participation trophy turned out to be inaccurate‚causing an inception-type case of “fake news about fake news” and blowing many internet-goers’ minds.
18. The Other Side
Charles Ponzi, father of the famous Ponzi scheme, appears to have had a soft side when he wasn’t busy ripping people off or serving jail time—he once donated his own skin to a dying nurse and saved her life.
17. Counting Calories
A diet that was very popular in the late Victorian era was known as the “tapeworm diet,” and yes, it was as disgusting as it sounds. In order to lose weight, people literally swallowed tapeworms and other parasites in the hopes that they would do the work on their inner parts for them. The worst part? The celebrity opera singer whose reputation of having done this sparked the fad is now believed never to have actually done it. So yeah, don’t spread rumors if they might end up getting parasites into people’s bodies!
16. Chirpin’ Away
If the holiday spirit of late December makes you feel like killing a bird and tying it to a pole, Ireland may be the country for you! An Irish tradition known as “Wren Day” involves young participants called “mummers” doing just that on the day after Christmas. Although interest in this tradition has dwindled in much of the country, the town of Dingle still goes all out for it and hosts a parade every year.
15. Demographics Are Destiny
Residents of the small Polish town of Zywkowo, in which the population of storks outnumbers the population of humans, believe that being hospitable towards the large birds brings them good luck.
14. Last Relic
So you thought that the old European powers have long since lost all their territory in North America? Think again! Despite having lost all of Canada, the United States, and Mexico hundreds of years ago, there is still a tiny series of eight islands off the coast of Newfoundland called “Saint Pierre and Miquelon” which remain a part of France to this day.
13. Coyote Colonization
Over the past century, North America has been quietly but extensively colonized by a conqueror that has gone mostly unnoticed—the coyote. This predatory animal can now be found in almost every US state and Canadian province, as well as in parts of Mexico, making it the fastest growing and farthest reaching carnivore species on the continent.
12. Feathered Fiends
The city of Teaneck, New Jersey has complained for several years of large wild turkeys harassing the local human population. As annoying as that is in and of itself, it might be worse for those who know the full story—those turkeys are only there because an organization called the National Wild Turkey Federation decided to set 22 birds free in 1977, never realizing that their offspring might not be so grateful to their future neighbors.
11. I Think, Therefore I Am Not
A group of people known as “metaphysical solipsists” believe that nothing actually exists except for their own brains. Try dropping that at a dinner party!
10. Where Am I?
There is a New York, Texas, as well as a Texas, New York. Technically speaking, that means that at any given moment, you could tell a friend that you’re in either Texas or New York, and they would have no idea where you actually were. I guess someone didn’t think that through before naming these places…
9. Below the Waist
“Pants” was considered a dirty word in Victorian England. Maybe that explains why “trousers” unanimously remains their prefered method of referring to that article of clothing to this day.
8. Full of Hot Air
You’ve probably heard about the rocket-bound monkey who was the first earthling to ever go to space, but are you aware that animals were also the pioneers of another form of vehicle? Yes, it turns out that the first passengers to ever ride in a hot air balloon were a trio of sheep, duck, and rooster.
7. Mirror Image
The sentence “Do geese see God?” is the same thing both forwards and backwards. Be sure and put that knowledge to good use!
6. Sacred Custom
Despite the two-term limit for any president of the United States being known as a central tenet of the American democratic system, it has actually spent the vast majority of the country’s history as just a tradition rather than a law. It was only after FDR broke from tradition and served four terms in the 1930s and ‘40s that the nation decided to actually enshrine it as mandatory.
5. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
In addition to the expansion of the regular coyote, North America’s Eastern seaboard has recently become a hub for sightings of “coywolves,” coyote-wolf hybrid creatures. In fact, there have been so many of these that Montreal has set up a telephone hotline to track reports of such creatures.
4. Time On Our Hands
Leading 20th-century philosopher Bertrand Russell introduced the world to the “Five Minute Hypothesis”—the idea that it is impossible to actually prove that the world is more than a mere five minutes old, since there’s no way of knowing that all of our memories weren’t just planted there artificially.
The notion really rests on the idea of a process by which someone could create an artificial mind which came complete with memories. How would such an AI figure out that it was artificial? And if we accept that such a thing is possible (in theory) how can we prove that we ourselves are all-natural, and not the result of some scientist’s tinkering in a lab? Sure, it’s unlikely… but because our experience of reality is subjective, there’s really no way we can prove it’s not the case.
Thanks, Bertrand. It’s not like I wanted to sleep tonight anyway.
3. Opposites Attract
Many different species have bizarre mating rituals, but few rival the case of the billy goat. When a male billy goat wants to impress a female, instead of dressing up in a suit and buying flowers, he urinates on his own head. Apparently, the smell drives the female goats wild. To each their own I guess!
A 19th century railroad worker named Phineas Gage had an iron rod rammed through his head—and survived. In one of the most bizarre medical anomalies in history, Gage lived another 12 full years despite having had his brain’s left frontal lobe mostly destroyed in the incident. His story does have another interesting twist to it though—friends of his say that his behavior was virtually unrecognizable from this point on, describing him as “no longer Gage.” The case has since been very popular for psychologists and neurologists to study, for obvious reasons.
1. Vanilla Butt Cream
Though it’s less common today than it was, a substance called castoreum is sometimes used as a substitute for several flavors, most frequently vanilla. The US FDA lists it as a “generally recognized as safe” food additive, and it is often listed simply as “natural flavoring” on ingredient lists. Why would manufacturers not call it by name? Maybe it has to do with the fact that castoreum is a thick, brown liquid secreted from glands right next to a beaver’s anus!
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