We could all use a little more knowledge—if just to impress the usuals at your local trivia night. From bizarre true stories to weird science to unbelievable tales from the annals of history, here’s a huge trove of weird facts that most people don’t know.
Weird Facts Most People Don’t Know
1. After You
Penguins are known to push other penguins into the water to ensure the area is free of predators. Not so cute after all, are they?
2. Practice Safe Snacks
Vending machines kill four times as many people per year as sharks.
3. Poopy Time
Not such a fun fact: Toilet paper is so ineffective that using it to wipe your butt after you poop doesn’t even prevent health problems such as urinary tract infections. It simply doesn’t remove all the poop. There’s also research to suggest aggressive wiping with toilet paper can cause anal fissures and even hemorrhoids. Doctors recommend using wet wipes instead, which are far more effective at removing fecal matter.
Bompas and Parr, a high-end English jam company, has released Occult Jam, which comes in many varieties that contain extremely strange ingredients. Some of the flavors include milk jam infused with Princess Diana’s hair, absinthe and pineapple jam with sand from the Great Pyramids or plum and oak jam with wood from a British warship.
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.” I wonder if the two things are related…
6. Death by Gluttony
King Adolf Frederick of Sweden was considered a weak ruler who failed to gain respect during his life. His death didn’t help matters. The king died after consuming a meal of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, kippers, and champagne followed by no fewer than 14 helpings of his favorite dessert. He literally ate himself to death.
7. Up, Up and Away!
In the days of Napoleon, two Frenchmen named LePique and Grandpré decided to have a duel when they realized they were seeing the same woman. But this was to be no ordinary duel—this contest was to be held in the skies above Paris! They each got in their own hot air balloon, ascended to half a mile above the city, then drew their arms. Lepique drew first and missed. Grandpré then fired…and popped LePique’s balloon, sending him and his pilot plummeting to their deaths.
8. Mani/Pedi Takes on a New Meaning
A Memphis resident was given steroids for an allergic attack in 2009. Over the next three years, her body suffered one of the strangest allergic reactions in medical history. On the surfaces of her body which would normally grow hair, she started to grow nails, due to a change in the number of skin cells that were produced. She is the only person of record to suffer from this rare disorder.
9. The Original Hoarders
Long before hoarders made reality TV, two brothers named Homer and Langley Collyer made hoarding their life’s work—and ultimately their death. Langley was blind and paralyzed and Homer began the collection with newspapers he hoped his brother could read when his blindness was eventually cured. The junk collection grew out of control and they even created booby traps throughout their home to protect their loot.
Responding to a call about a noxious odor in 1947, police sifted through layers of junk and eventually found Homer dead. He had been crushed when his own collection of junk collapsed on him. His brother was nowhere to be found. Authorities removed over 180 tons of junk from the house and what remained of Langley’s body was finally located weeks later. He had died of starvation when his brother no longer brought him food, and his body had been partially eaten by the dozens of rats that also lived in the home.
10. I’ll Stick With Sushi
In 1939, Harvard freshman Lothrop Withington, Jr., bragged to his classmates about having eaten a live fish. They bet him $10 he couldn’t do it again, but, with a Boston reporter documenting the event, Withington put a live goldfish in his mouth, chewed, and swallowed. The story ignited a craze for eating live goldfish on college campuses across America.
11. That’s Gonna Be a No for Me, Dawg
Vultures get a bad rap because they dine exclusively on carrion, but they’re actually surprisingly hygienic. Their less-than-fresh meals can be crawling with germs, so vultures have a unique way of fending off infection—they poop on their feet! Bold choice, I know, but the bacteria in their waste fends off the germs in their food.
12. Tennis Anyone?
Your lungs are filled with tiny sacs called alveoli that draw oxygen from the air you breathe into your bloodstream. In total, the average adult has around 600 million of these alveoli, and their combined surface area is roughly the size of a tennis court.
13. You Know What They Say About a Big Brain…
You think you’re big-brained? The biggest brain on earth belongs to the adult male sperm whale. It can weigh up to 17 pounds!
14. Revenge of the Dead
Sigurd the Mighty, the ninth-century Viking Earl of Orkney, managed to get killed by a man whom he’d beheaded. Following a particularly vicious battle, the earl tied the head of his enemy to his horse’s saddle, and he was grazed by one of the dead man’s teeth while riding home. He died from the resulting infection of his leg wound.
15. Goats are Weird
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!
16. Gonna Need a Shot After That Shot
Drinkers in Dawson City, located in Canada’s Yukon Territory, can visit the Sourdough Saloon and become a member of the Sourtoe Cocktail Club should they desire. Just ask for Captain River Rat, purchase a shot of Yukon Jack whiskey, and watch as a dehydrated human toe is dropped into your drink. After pledging the Sourtoe Oath, simply drink the shot (and remember, your lips have to touch the toe!).
However, DO NOT SWALLOW THE TOE. Since its inception in 1973, several overzealous patrons have downed the toe, either by accident or on purpose. The bar is on their 10th toe (the toes are often donated in wills by other patrons). There is now a fine of $2,500 for swallowing the precious digit. We repeat, DO NOT SWALLOW THE TOE.
17. The Oldest Trick In The Book
Jeanne Calment won a place in the Guinness Book of World Records when she celebrated her 112th birthday in 1987, becoming the world’s oldest living person. Calment would live for another decade, reaching the unsurpassed age of 122. But in 2018, it was revealed that the woman the world knew as Jeanne Calment was, more than likely, her much younger daughter, Yvonne. Upon Jeanne’s death in 1934, Yvonne took her mother’s place to help her father cheat France’s estate tax.
18. Lather, Rinse, Repeat
Human hair is stronger than you think. Altogether, a full head of hair can hold 12 tonnes, otherwise known as the combined weight of two elephants. So the next time you’re holding up two elephants with your hair, don’t worry: you’ve got this.
19. Always Craving S’more
Graham crackers are named after 19th-century Evangelical minister Sylvester Graham, and they were supposed to make people have less sex. Graham believed that food influenced libido, and he advised adopting a bland diet to suppress lustfulness. Thousands embraced Graham’s teachings and ate the flavorless wheat germ loaf that would eventually be repackaged (with some added sugar, libido be damned) as delicious Graham crackers.
20. Event Horizon
Ever wondered what’s in a black hole? Well, if I were you, I’d avoid going into one to find out. The horrible process of things being stretched out and torn apart as they enter a black hole is called spaghettification—and who wants to be spaghettified?
21. Unexpected Vote
Gylve Nagell, better known as “Fenriz,” is best known as the drummer of Norwegian metal band Darkthrone. He agreed to be a backup candidate for a position on the town council of Kolbotn, Oslo, Norway. Though he didn’t think much of the offer, Fenriz was elected! “My campaign was a picture of me holding my cat saying, ‘Please don’t vote for me.’ But people just went nuts,” Fenriz said. He’s not allowed to deny or resign from the position for four years. “I’m not too pleased about it. It’s boring,” Fenriz told CLRVYNT, a metal blog. “There’s not a lot of money in that, either, I can tell you!”
22. Fair’s Fair
When King Philip IV of France (“Philip the Fair”) discovered his three daughters-in-law were having intimate relations with knights from his court, he forced his daughters to stand trial for adultery. Two of the daughters were found guilty. They had their heads shaven and were sentenced to life imprisonment. The knights found guilty were castrated, flayed, disemboweled, and hanged. How’s that for fair?
23. Oldie But a Goody
The oldest recorded British joke dates back to the 10th Century AD. Here it is: “What hangs at a man’s thigh and wants to poke the hole that it’s often poked before? Answer: A key.” I see comedy hasn’t come very far in the last 1,000 years.
24. Drinking and Doctoring
During the Civil War, patients drank alcohol to numb the pain of surgery—but oftentimes the surgeon would take a nip for himself to calm his nerves. Or two. Or more… A Confederate hospital matron by the name of Phoebe Yates Pember claims that one doctor was so drunk that, when setting a patient’s broken ankle, he set the healthy ankle. Afterward, a fever set in and the patient died from his injuries.
25. The New You
As new cells are created in your body, they slowly replace the older ones. After about seven years, your entire body will have replaced itself, and you’ll be a completely new person from who you were before, cells and all!
26. Below the Waist
“Pants” was considered a dirty word in Victorian England. Maybe that explains why “trousers” unanimously remains the UK’s preferred method of referring to that article of clothing to this day.
27. Don’t Get Testy With Me
If you’re a seafood lover and someone offers you a Rocky Mountain Oyster, you turn and you run away. A Rocky Mountain Oyster is not an oyster, and it’s never been anywhere near the ocean. No, they’re bull testicles deep fried in a batter of flour, pepper, and salt. Bulls are castrated for a few reasons including beef production and calming their tempers, so the testicles are merely a byproduct, but why let a perfectly good thing go to waste?
28. Bad Timing
A Japanese man named Tsutomu Yamaguchi managed to live through the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima—only to return home to Nagasaki, where he lived through the second bombing. He spent the rest of his life as a vocal critic of nuclear proliferation. He died of cancer at age 93. Doctors believe the cancer was unrelated to either of the bombings.
29. Measuring Contest
The surface area of Russia is larger than that of Pluto. As the largest country on Earth, Russia has a land mass that measures at 17,098,322 square km (6,601,699 square miles). In contrast, Pluto only has a surface area of 16,647,940 square km (6,430,000 square miles). And it’s not even a real planet anymore, if we may add insult to injury.
30. The Ripple Effect
In Buenos Aires in 1983, a dog fell out of a 13th-floor window and instantly killed an elderly woman who was walking on the street below. As if that wasn’t bizarre enough, gaping onlookers were struck by an oncoming bus and one woman was killed. A man died of a heart attack after witnessing both events.
31. Weird Connections
The 1800s and early-1900s saw a rise in the popular obsession with spiritualism. Wealthy believers would often host séances led by psychic mediums who could commune with the dead. The Fox Sisters, popular mediums at the time, were eventually discovered cracking their leg joints to produce ghostly “knocking” sounds. Still spooky, but for a different reason.
32.Where No Man Has Gone Before
The Voyager twin spacecraft were sent out in 1977 and are still going strong, having made their way throughout the planets of our solar system to become the first man-made objects to have ever reached interstellar space. The organizers of the mission anticipated this and wondered what would happen if someday, far in the future, an alien civilization came across these spacecraft of ours.
They decided to attach a “Golden Record” to the spacecraft so that whoever encountered it could hear some of Earth’s music and languages, and perhaps see a glimpse into what our civilization was like. Using drawings of universal scientific concepts that any life form could theoretically understand, they tried to communicate Earth’s cosmic location and instructions on how to play the record. Who knows if and when this message in a bottle might be found, or by whom?
33. On the Inside
The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, more than Russia and China combined. More than 1% of American citizens are currently in prison—from 1980 to 2015, the number of prisoners quadrupled from 500,000 to more than 2.2 million. 21% of prisoners in the entire world are within the USA.
34. Reviving the Dead
In the early 20th century, a Russian scientist named Aleksei Kuliabko filled the veins of a corpse that had been dead for only a day with a concoction that would supposedly revive its heart. And guess what? It worked! The now-living corpse began making an odd breathing sound that scared everyone, but after 20 minutes, Kuliabko terminated the experiment on his “human zombie.”
According to his authorized biography by Walter Isaacson, Apple CEO Steve Jobs had a rather unusual way of relieving stress: In the early days of Apple, he would soak his feet in the water of the office toilets.
36. Bugs! On Your Face!
Tiny bugs live on your face and thrive by eating your dead skin cells. Yummy, right? These bugs are called demodex mites, and they’re spread through skin-to-skin contact. Another fun fact is that you get more of these mites the older you get, so the next time your grandmother leans in for a kiss, maybe opt for a nice, firm handshake instead.
37. The Big Apple
Roughly 1,600 people are bitten by other humans in New York City every year. I see now where the Big Apple nickname came from.
38. 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.
39. There’s a Map to the Hospital on the Back of the Menu
For some, danger is the most delicious dish, and fugu is certainly dangerous. This blowfish contains tetrodotoxin—a poison more dangerous than cyanide—but it’s still a popular dish in Japan. Fugu can only be served by a trained and certified chef, who carefully removes all the toxic parts and slices the blowfish meat into thin sashimi, served raw. Even still, around six people die each year in Japan after eating fugu. Do you like your odds?
40. Heads Up!
King Louis XVI didn’t love the gruesome instrument of death known as the “breaking wheel,” so he requested proposals for a new method of execution. An amateur locksmith himself, he even recommended some refinements to the winning invention—the guillotine. Little did he know, he’d be trying out the invention himself just one year later, during the French Revolution.
41. Civil Service
Wilmer McLean’s farm was the site of the Battle of Bull Run, one of the first real battles of the American Civil War. Fearing for their safety, McLean moved his family 120 miles south, to Appomattox, Virginia. Years later, McLean’s Appomattox home would provide the venue for the Confederate surrender, prompting McLean to say, “The war began in my front yard and ended in my front parlor.”
42. Unclean & Unjust
Annually, diarrhea kills more children than measles, malaria, and AIDS combined. Specifically, that’s 2,195 deaths per day, or 760,000 per year, from diarrhea—a largely preventable illness that derives from poor sanitation and hygiene.
43. Stay Gold
Conceived as a way to celebrate the 50th or “golden” anniversary of the NYC restaurant Serendipity 3, the Golden Opulence Sundae made the Guinness Book of World Records in 2007 as the most expensive sundae in the world. The dessert cost $1,000 and its ingredients included cocoa beans from Venezuela, candied fruits from Paris, a special sweetened dessert caviar, Armagnac, plus 23-karat edible gold leaf. The dessert was served in a $300 Baccarat crystal chalice, which the eater got to keep.
44. Fast Times
One form of Victorian-era entertainment was the “Fasting Girl.” Young women would appear in public exhibits, dazzling spectators with claims that they didn’t eat anything at all. These girls obviously were eating in secret, and most were eventually caught—though some actually starved to death in a bid for authenticity.
45. Numbered Days
As much as we love the sun and all it does for us, it’s actually losing about four million tons of its mass every second because of nuclear fusion, and it eventually will run out completely. The good news is, it will never get to this point. The bad news is, before it has the chance to lose all its mass, it will become a red giant and die, taking Earth and other nearby planets with it to the grave. Let’s enjoy it while we can!
46. Home Surgery
In 1651, a Dutch man named Jan de Doot removed his own bladder stone with a knife. He pulled the stone out through an incision he made in his perineum (if you don’t know what that is, trust me, you don’t want to). He later had the bladder stone, which was the size and shape of a chicken’s egg, set in gold. De Doot was immortalized in an oil painting by Carel van Savoyen in 1655—the painting shows a serious-looking de Doot holding the gilt stone and brandishing a tiny knife.
47. Mysteries Of Two Lauras
In June 2001, a girl named Laura Buxton from Blurton, Staffordshire, UK, put a note with her name and address inside a helium balloon and let it go. The helium balloon traveled to Pewsey, Wiltshire, UK, where another Laura Buxton found it and replied to her ten days later. Oddly enough, the two Lauras were both ten years old. Cue the X-Files music.
48. Great Molasses Tsunami
In 1919, a ruptured storage tank was the cause of a disaster in Boston when 7.5 million liters of molasses surged through the streets, upending rail cars, tearing homes from their foundations and capturing people, horses and dogs in the rapids of waist-high, impossibly thick goo. Twenty-one people were crushed by waves or debris or drowned before the deluge subsided.
49. How Could a Giant Hornet Get Worse? Acid Venom.
Grab some bug spray the next time you visit Japan. The Japanese giant hornet’s venom is so strong that it can even dissolve the flesh of a human. It’s also said that one hornet alone has the power to wipe out 40 European honeybees per minute. An Entomologist from Tamagawa University in Japan described her encounter with one of these hornets as a “hot nail through my leg.” No thanks.
50. What’s the Deal With Airplane Food?
Our sense of taste and smell are cut down by 50 and 20 percent during flights. This is why airplane food doesn’t taste so great. “That’s what I’ve been telling you!” said every airplane food chef ever.
51. Counting Calories
A weight-loss craze 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!
52. Larvae Tacos
Escamoles are the larvae of a venomous ant species that lay their eggs deep down in the roots of agave or maguey plants in Mexico. The larvae are said to have a consistency akin to cottage cheese and taste somewhat nutty; they’re normally eaten as the filling in a taco or omelet. They look remarkably similar to rice, so maybe take an extra close look the next time you’re chomping into a fresh taco.
53. Weird Experiments
If I told you that the CIA experimented with LSD to try and create a mind-control drug, you’d tell me that’s the plot of a bad movie—except that it’s true. Project MKUltra took place between 1953 and 1973 and involved extremely unethical experiments on unsuspecting subjects. It even resulted in one death when a man threw himself out of a window. The CIA tried to destroy all the files related to the project and bury it forever, but many of them were accidentally put with financial records, where they were discovered in 1977 when the truth came out.
54. Think Ink
The body of Ötzi the Iceman contains the earliest tattoos known to human history. Having lived between 3370 and 3100 BC, he probably didn’t have access to those trendy designer parlors, but he did have 61 tattoos, featuring dots and lines of carbon ink. He was so well preserved that the tattoos are still visible!
55. Should Have Taken the Stairs
Sneaking a boy into your bedroom is perhaps not that unusual, but killing him while doing it is. In 1667, James Betts died from asphyxiation after being sealed in a cupboard by his lover, the young Elizabeth Spencer, when her father unexpectedly returned. Sadly, destroyed by guilt and grief, Elizabeth committed suicide shortly after. This all took place at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and the young lovers’ ghosts are said to haunt the grounds to this day.
56. What a Train Wreck
It sounds like a stupid idea, but it actually worked: In the early 1800s, a railroad marketer set up a head-on collision between two trains as a publicity stunt. 40,000 people came to watch, and the resulting boiler explosion killed three spectators. But ticket sales skyrocketed, and railways everywhere staged train crashes right up until the Great Depression.
57. Wet Moon
We have long been searching for extraterrestrial life, but maybe instead of on other planets, we should be looking on other moons! Europa, one of Jupiter’s many moons, may have massive liquid oceans under its surface. Can you imagine what kind of crazy dolphin aliens could be living under there? Time will tell…
58. Shocking Odds
Men are five times more likely to be struck by lightning than women. This is thought to be because men are more likely to be unaware of the dangers (or to take more risks). Young men also account for 80% of drowning victims in Canada.
59. The Graveyard on Everest
No one really knows exactly how many bodies are on Mount Everest, but there are hundreds, and recovering them could pose serious risks. Any altitude above 8,000 meters (26,000 feet), on Everest or any other mountain, is referred to as the “death zone.” On Everest, most deaths occur in the death zone, but more happen during descent than during ascent. At least they made it to the top first, right?
60. Pinocchio, No!!
The Disney film Pinocchio was based on an Italian children’s story from the 1880s. The story does feature a cricket (though the name “Jiminy Cricket” is a Disney invention), but his story takes a rather dark turn. In the original, Pinocchio kills the cricket after it tries to give him some advice, and the cricket comes back as a ghost to continue advising him.
61. Rat King
What’s worse than a rat? Try a whole group of rats who have fused together, their tails intertwined with hair and other substances such as gum or sap. In ancient times, the rat king was deemed an omen of misfortune, but today they’re so rare some people even question whether the phenomenon even exists. However, museums like the Mauritianum in Altenburg, Thuringia claim to have a mummified rat king on display. I dare you to test that thing and prove them wrong.
62. Peel Me
Bananas share 50% of their DNA with humans. Maybe that’s why we find them so appeeling…I’ll see myself out.
63. 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. Honestly, I bet there are much worse hitchhikers you could pick up.
64. A Tuna Jell-O Treat
Most people associate gelatin with desert—who doesn’t love a strawberry or lime Jello-O? Well, back in the mid-20th century, Jell-O wasn’t all about sweet treats. Dig into some old cookbooks and you’ll find Jell-O flavored with tuna and tomato soup, with recipes that included chicken, eggs, fish, and cheese. Bon appetit!
65. Long Term Parking
Richard III was the English king to die in battle, meeting his end at the Battle of Bosworth Field. Despite his royal sacrifice, Richard’s body didn’t exactly end up in the most hallowed ground. It was discovered under a parking lot in 2012.
66. I’m not Joking
British comedian Tommy Cooper suffered a fatal heart attack in the middle of a variety show that was broadcast live in 1984. While the unknowing audience continued to laugh, the show went to a commercial break. Cooper’s unresponsive body was eventually pulled off the stage, but the other actors continued and finished the variety show.
67. This One Is Not for Cat-Lovers
Some historical fads would cause abject horror now. In 17th and 18th-century France, cat-burning was a popular pastime: People would gather dozens of cats in a sack, then suspend them over a bonfire. Onlookers apparently shrieked with laughter at cries of the animals.
68. Weird Nation
If Walmart were its own country, it would have the 24th largest GDP in the world, more than countries like Argentina, Norway, and Austria. In 2017, the retail giant made $485.14 billion in revenue worldwide. If its workforce of 2.3 million gathered together, their numbers would be greater than the population of Botswana, Macedonia, and Luxembourg.
69. Not What You Think…
Zombie tits (better known as Great tits) are a species of bird that have learned to track down tiny bats, split open their skulls, and feed on their brains.
70. Wife Swap
In 1973, one of the weirdest scandals in sports occurred when New York Yankees players Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich decided to trade families. They traded wives, children, even dogs! After the couples became close friends, Peterson fell in love with Kekich’s wife and vice-versa. “It’s a love story. It wasn’t anything dirty,” Peterson told a reporter in 2013. Peterson is still married to the former Mrs. Kekich, though Kekich and his new love, the former Mrs. Peterson, have since split.
71. Kissy Kissy
Parasitic worms and bacteria can be transmitted through saliva when we kiss. Triatoma insects, also known as “kissing bugs,” can be transferred this way and, after burrowing into a person’s heart, can cause something called Chagas disease, which can be potentially deadly. How about a hug instead…through a plastic bubble?
72. Glutton for Punishment
Currently, more people in the world suffer from obesity than hunger. I think that’s a good thing?
73. Auspicious Date
The deaths of both 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?
74. This Coffee Tastes Like…
The most expensive coffee in the world comes from coffee cherries selected not by discerning humans, but by Asian palm civets. The small cat-like (but non-feline) mammals eat the cherries, then excrete them in their feces, where they are harvested by farmers and processed into coffee. Some say the selection process, as well as the digestion by the civets, gives the beans a superior flavor. A kilogram of civet coffee, also known as kopi luwak, can fetch up to $700 US!
75. When Your Time Is Up
Pizza deliveryman Brian Wells was killed when a time bomb fastened around his neck exploded. Wells had just robbed a bank and contended that he had been forced to and told authorities that the time bomb would explode if he didn’t follow instructions. Police later determined that Wells was actually involved in the robbery plot with two others. The film 30 Minutes or Less involved an extremely similar plot, and Wells’ family expressed their disgust upon the movie’s release, but Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group denied that the screenwriters were aware of Wells’ case before making the film.
76. Biggest Show in Town
A Paris morgue needed help identifying bodies in the 1860s, so they decided to open their doors to the public. They probably underestimated people’s morbid curiosity, though—soon 40,000 visitors a day were coming to look at corpses.
77. Snoring His Way to Freedom
During the 1980 siege of the Iranian Embassy in London, hostages had to decide amongst themselves who would be released. Among those chosen? A pregnant woman, and a man whose loud snoring at night annoyed the other hostages and the terrorists. Hey, I’d take it.
78. Write What You Know
In the 1980s, DC Comics created a character called Snowflame, who got his powers from cocaine. His only weakness? Cocaine Addiction. One can only imagine how they got the idea for such a character…
79. We Appreciate It, Bill
The Battle of Hastings, where William the Conqueror took over England, had even more far-reaching consequences than people realize. After the battle, he parceled out England to those who had fought with him. As a result, 70% of the land in England is still owned by 1% of the population, who are largely descended from members of William’s army.
Ancient Egyptian women used crocodile dung as an early contraceptive. A pessary made of the dung, plus honey and sodium carbonate was inserted inside the vagina. However, since crocodile dung is slightly alkaline, like modern-day spermicides, it’s possible it actually could have blocked or killed sperm. Still though…
81. Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely
The loneliest creature on earth is a whale that has been calling for a mate for two decades. Researchers identified the whale’s abnormally high call over 20 years ago. The unknown whale is called “Lonely” because it communicates at a frequency not used by any other whale in the North Pacific, and so far, it has never received a response.
82. 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.” What else?
83. Death by Scarf
Isadora Duncan was a dancer famous for the long, flowing scarves she always wore. Duncan was strangled to death when one of these scarves caught under the wheel of the car she was riding in.
84. What Happens in Vegas
In the 1950s, everyone wanted to go to Las Vegas, not for the casinos, but for the nuclear bomb tests. Before they realized the dangers of fallout, people would flock to Las Vegas—Atomic City, USA—for bomb-viewing parties featuring girls in mushroom cloud bikinis and specially themed cocktails.
85. Bugs for Lunch
FDA regulations allow for a certain amount of insects to be present in the food you eat. In fact, ten insects and 35 fruit fly eggs per eight ounces of raisins is perfectly acceptable. The FDA is also cool with five rodent hairs and 150 bug fragments to remain present in one pound of peanut butter. This totally killed my craving for some Raisin Bran with my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Ugh, who am I kidding? Pass the peanut butter, please…
Pepper spray and tear gas are increasingly common crowd-control tactics used by police in times of protest all over the world. But while these weapons continue to be used domestically, but they are technically classified as chemical weapons and thus are forbidden in warfare.
87. It’s Naht a Toomah!
There are some tumors that are able to grow hair, teeth, and their own organs—it’s like having another person growing inside of you. In 2008, doctors in Colorado Springs in the US took out a tumor from a baby that contained a partially formed foot, a hand, and a thigh. In 2007, doctors removed a lump from a Japanese woman’s right ovary that had an eye and internal organs. You may be a huge sci-fi fan, but reality is always stranger than fiction, baby!
88. You Like Politics?
Chances are higher that you become president than win the lottery. In case being struck by lightning didn’t entice you.
89. 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?
90. Assassination by Umbrella
Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian dissident, was killed when a bullet filled with ricin, fired from a modified umbrella, entered his calf. No one has ever been charged for the crime. However, ten days before the murder, an attempt was made to kill another Bulgarian defector named Vladimir Kostov in the same manner. In this case, however, the coating of the pellet was damaged during the shot or before, which caused the ricin to leak. Only a tiny portion of the poison got into his blood, causing only fever. KGB defectors including Oleg Kalugin and Oleg Gordievsky have claimed that both of these incidents were the work of the KGB.
91. Keep an Eye on This One
In this day and age, no one is shocked by tattoos anymore. Instead, those who really want to rock the boat are getting eyeball tattoos. This toe-curling—and dangerous—procedure involves permanently dying the whites of your eyes a different color—black is especially popular.
In 1913, Adolf Hitler, Sigmund Freud (that’s the psychology and dreaming guy), Joseph Tito, Joseph Stalin, and Leon Trotsky all lived within two square miles of each other in Vienna, Austria. I wonder if they ever had sleepovers?
Vulcan Point in the Philippines is the world’s largest island within a lake that is itself on an island in a lake on an island…. Got that? An island (Vulcan Point)… in a lake (Main Crater Lake)… on an island (Taal Island)…. in a lake (Lake Taal)… on an island (Luzon)… in the Philippine Sea. Luzon is the largest island in the Philippines, which is an archipelago of over 7,000 islands!
Your mother was already carrying the egg that became you when she was born. You were late to the party.
95. 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. Sadly, we don’t have the full joke, and even more sadly, we don’t have the answer, but we know part of it was “…of your mother is by the one who has intercourse with her. What/who is it?” I’m sure it was uproarious.
96. Creature Comforts
Alcatraz, one of America’s most notorious and impenetrable prisons, was for a time the only prison in the United States to provide inmates with hot showers. Alcatraz is on an island in San Francisco Bay, and the hot showers were thought to hinder escape, by making sure inmates didn’t get acclimatized to the freezing cold Bay water they would need to swim through to get to shore.
97. Even Death Shall Never Part You
Becoming widowed in ancient India did not mean that the widow could mourn and move on—or at least not in life. A practice known as Sati was based on the belief that a woman basically had no entitlement to live without her husband, and she would either have to be burned alive in her husband’s funeral fire or be buried alive next to his corpse. Both were pretty gruesome ways to go, so women probably prayed that they died first (of natural causes of course).
98. A Jarring Thing To Wake Up To
Russia’s Peter the Great was infamous for his terrifying temper, but when his wife cheated on him, he absolutely lost his mind. He cut off the other man’s head and then forced his wife to keep it in a jar by her bedside at all times.
In 1886, Ludwig, the Mad King of Bavaria, took a walk along the shore of Lake Starnberg with his doctor. Their bodies were found floating in the lake the next morning. Neither had water in their lungs, but Von Gudden’s body showed signs of strangulation and bludgeoning. The mystery has never been solved, though modern historians suggest that Ludwig and his doctor may have been murdered by Ludwig’s enemies while he was attempting to escape captivity.
100. Spiders Pouring From the Walls
Susan and Brian Trost from Missouri bought a home for $450,000, unaware that it was swimming with Brown Recluse spiders. Sadly, they didn’t know about the spiders until they started coming out of the walls. Pest control experts claimed that there were close to 5,000 of these spiders in the house. Just one bite can lead to pain, nausea, swelling, itching, and potentially organ failure. Naturally, the couple sued the original homeowners.