Everyone loves interesting trivia. But there are some among us who are true fact vacuums and Trivial Pursuit whizzes, forever armed to dazzle people by dropping all sorts of amazing, obscure knowledge at a moment’s notice. For those weird fact junkies (and for anyone else who is naturally curious about our crazy world), we humbly offer this extensive and deeply researched list of 50 amazing facts. So read on, and have your thirst for surprising information totally quenched, and enjoy! And for more on the facts of life, check out these 50 Facts About Life Everyone Should Know.
Penguins Used to Be Almost Seven Feet Tall
Researchers from the La Plata Museum found fossils in the Antarctic of a “colossus penguin,” measuring 6 feet, 8 inches in height. The larger penguins would have been able to dive underwater for 40 minutes at a time, according to the researchers, though they no doubt looked kind of silly when they walked. And for more fun facts on our favorite animals, check out these 40 Amazing Animal Facts.
Birth Control for Men is a Thing
Taking birth control is not just for women. Scientists have developed an injectable contraceptive that has been found to be 96% effective in the men who used it. Using the hormones progestogen (which affects sperm production) and testosterone (which reduces the effects of the progestogen), the treatment could mean that guys would not have to use a condom again. And for more facts that will make you the smartest conversationalist at any party, check out these 40 Random Obscure Facts That Will Make Everyone Think You’re a Genius.
World War I Boosted the Bra Market
The market for bras jumped in 1917, during the First World War, when the U.S. War Industries Board asked American women to forgo their corsets (which required significant amounts of metal to construct) and switch to the less-demanding bra. The ladies did their part for the cause, freeing up 28,000 tons of metal and changing female fashion from that moment forward.
Foreign Accent Syndrome Is a Thing
This speech disorder, which can occur after traumatic brain injury or stroke, is when a person’s way of speaking shifts from a native accent to a foreign one. Among the cases identified are American English to British English, Japanese to Korean, British English to French, and Spanish to Hungarian. And for more on learning a new language, check out these 20 Most Difficult Languages in the World to Learn.
There Was a Third Apple Founder
While the duo of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak have become tech industry legends, there was another guy in the garage when the company was founded: Ronald Wayne, who had a 10 percent stake in the company at the time, as “adult supervision” of the project (he was 42 at the time). He ended up selling his stake for $800—it would have been worth around $35 billion today. And for more on your favorite Apple accessory, check out these 20 Amazing Facts You Never Knew About Your Smartphone.
Pi Was Almost Legally Defined as 3.2
Legislators in Indiana came close to legally redefining the value of pi, that beloved number of geometrists that begins with 3.14 and continues on forever, as the much more simple 3.2. The reason for doing so is long and a bit jargony, but suffice it to say that while the bill got surprisingly far in the legislature, passing in the state’s House of Representatives, it was stopped by the time it got to the Senate.
Whispering Is Bad for Your Voice
It might seem like whispering can help you preserve your vocal cords, whether you’ve got laryngitis or are auditioning for American Idol. But researchers have found the opposite to be true. One study that used a fiber-optic scope on 100 subjects while they counted from 1 to 10 (first in a normal voice, then a whisper) found that 69 of them put more strain on their vocal cords when they whispered. And for more amazing facts, check out these 100 Awesome Facts About Everything.
Humming Is Good for Your Sinuses
On the other hand, humming, while annoying to the people around you trying to do work, is a good way to fight of sinus infections. Since keeping air flowing steadily between nasal cavities and sinuses is the key to preventing infection, humming is an ideal way to keep them healthy. One study found that humming resulted in a 15-fold increase in nasal nitric oxide in the airflow.
Ravens Can Learn to Speak Better Than Parrots
Parrots have the reputation as the most talkative birds in the animal kingdom, but ravens could hold their own in a debate any day. In captivity, the animals can be trained to mimic human speech, saying basic words like “hello” and “hi” and even coughing like a person. However, it’s not clear if they can be taught to say “nevermore.”
Poe Originally Wanted the Raven to Be a Parrot
In fact, Edgar Allan Poe had originally written his poem to feature a parrot, rather than the gloomy raven.
Easter Island Heads Have Torsos
You know the heads of the Easter Island figures, but often overlooked is the fact that they also have bodies. Archaeologists at UCLA have developed the Easter Island Statue Project to dig deeper into these Pacific Island icons and explore what’s below the surface—full-bodies statues measuring as much as 33 feet high. And for more ancient facts, check out these 40 Facts You Learned in the 20th Century That Are Totally Bogus Today.
Pistachios Reduce Erectile Dysfunction
Studies have found that guys with trouble getting it up can benefit big time by eating a handful of pistachios. Specifically, a Turkish study of 17 men with ED gave them 100 grams of pistachios to eat for lunch every day for three weeks, measuring them on the International Index of Erectile Function. They were found to improve blood flow and the dilation of blood vessels—certainly a cheaper option that Viagra.
The Cities With the Most Single Women Per Capita Are in the Carolinas
Guys looking to improve their dating odds should head to the Carolinas, where the three cities with the largest ratios of single women to men in the U.S. are found, according to Citylab, in the Carolinas. Specifically, Burlington, North Carolina (with 1,185 single women for every 1,000 men), Florence, South Carolina (with 1,212), and Greenville, South Carolina (with 1,227 single women per 1,000 guys—the highest ratio in the country).
The City With the Most Single Men Per Capita Is in California
Conversely, ladies looking to land a man should head west, where the city with the highest proportion of single-guys-to-girls can be found: Hanford-Corcoran, California, with a whopping 1,859 single guys per 1,000 single women.
Hummingbirds Can Fly Backwards
As if these animals weren’t already cool enough—with their ability to beat their wings 80 times per second—they can also move forward and backward with the same speed and efficiency. Scientists studying the phenomenon filmed the fast birds as they moved toward a feed and the researchers blasted air, pushing it backwards and leading it to adjust its direction with ease.
Judy Blume Is One of the Most-Banned Authors in the U.S.
The author of numerous children’s classics has found herself on the list of most-frequently challenged books in school libraries, according to the American Library Association, with five of her books making the list of most challenged books of the 1990s: Forever; Blubber; Deenie; Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret; and Tiger Eyes.
The Smell of Fresh-Cut Grass Is a Sign of Distress
The best part of mowing the lawn is that pleasing, herbal scent of fresh-cut grass, but that’s not a pleasant smell for the grass. Researchers have determined that the scent is a chemical compound given off by plants in anguish. They give off a similar odor when attacked by caterpillars or other predatory insects.
Pride and Prejudice Was Originally Titled First Impressions
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Caterpillars Turn to Soup Before Becoming Butterflies
We all know that caterpillars create a cocoon in which they transform into a beautiful butterfly, but what actually goes on inside that cocoon is pretty gross: The insect actually “digests itself, releasing enzymes to dissolve all of its tissues,” as Scientific American explains. Once it’s fully disintegrated (excluding some “imaginal discs”), it then begins “the rapid cell division required to form the wings, antennae, legs, eyes, genitals and all the other features of an adult butterfly or moth.”
One Guy Who Urinated in a Reservoir Ruined 8M Gallons of Water
In 2011, one dumb 21-year-old man thought it would be funny to urinate in the city reservoir of Portland, Oregon. His little gag ended up requiring the city to get rid of 8 million gallons of the treated drinking water as a result.
In Japan, it’s Considered Good Luck for Sumo Wrestlers to Make Your Baby Cry
There is actually a competition at the annual Nakizumo festival, going back four centuries, in which sumo wrestlers make babies cry. The longer the wail, the better for the kid’s health and fortune.
The “X” in Airport Codes Is Just Filler
When three-letter airport codes became standard throughout the world, the many airports that had been just using a two-letter code simply added an “X” to their code—which explains where LAX, PDX, and others come from.
Nutella Was Invented to Extend Chocolate Rations
The delicious chocolate-hazelnut spread known as Nutella came about due to the restrictions made on chocolate consumption during the Second World War. A resourceful Italian pastry chef realized he could get more out of the limited chocolate available by mixing it with hazelnuts. First marketed as a solid block, he struck on the creamy form, which he dubbed “Supercrema” in 1951.
Fear of Young People is Known as “Ephebiphobia”
This seems like a silly condition, but according to sociologists and psychologists, it’s surprisingly widespread and can show itself in a wide range of ways, from the “in my day…” tut-tutting about teenagers’ behavior to restricting our own children’s activities. It is also a condition long-experienced by society’s adults. One professor studying the subject points to a quote from Plato: “What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets, inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?”
Sex Is Dangerous for Flies
When certain types of flies mate, they emit a sound that catches the attention of predatory bats. Since sex can be so risky, the flies have learned to stick to quickies.
There’s a Mammal Who Has Sex Until it Disintegrates
If that doesn’t sound dangerous enough, consider the antechinus, a small, mouse-like mammal in Australia that kills itself for sex. When the males of the species hit their first mating season, they go at it nonstop, as much as 14 hours straight with as many females as they can encounter. He goes so hard that his fur falls off, he bleeds internally and his immune system fails when infection hits. “By the end of the mating season, physically disintegrating males may run around frantically searching for last mating opportunities,” Diana Fisher from the University of Queensland told National Geographic. “By that time, females are, not surprisingly, avoiding them.”
When Eagles Flirt, They Also Flirt With Death
Courtship between eagles can be rather death-defying. As New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation puts it, “The pair soars high in the sky, begins a dive, and interlocks talons while descending in a series of somersaults.” But it usually all works out, with the two producing one or two offspring each year.
After Teddy Bears, Toy Companies Tried to Create a William Taft Animal
President Teddy Roosevelt’s legacy includes that he inspired the beloved and ubiquitous teddy bear toy. Trying to replicate its success, a toy company created “Billy Possum,” related to the marsupial that was served at a banquet following his election. It served as an anti-Teddy symbol, featuring in songs, picture books, and more—but it never took off like the bear.
AOL Was Once Responsible for Half of All CDs Produced
When AOL was giving away internet via CDs in the mail, spending some $300 million to produce and mail them during its 1990s peak, the early online giant was producing a whopping 50 percent of all CDs being made in the world.
The Original Seven Dwarves Had Even Stranger Names
Though the Seven Dwarves of Snow White have pretty goofy names, originally, Disney had considered even odder monikers for the pint-sized miners: Chesty, Tubby, Burpy, Deafy, Hickey, Wheezy, and, awfully enough, Awful. And for more on the oddities found in kids’ films, check out these 20 Kids’ Films That Will Definitely Traumatize Your Children.
Image via Wikimedia Commons
Botox Affects Your Emotions
You know that Botox can reduce wrinkles by paralyzing parts of your face, but the changes aren’t just cosmetic: It has also been found to make it harder for those using it to identify emotions as deeply as those who don’t. One recent study found that Botoxed women were less able to identify the emotions felt by those in photographs than the people who did not use Botox.
Cicadas Expand and Contract Their Exoskeletons
You know that near-deafening chirp that cicadas create? It’s done by essentially expanding and contracting their exoskeleton really fast, moving their “buckling rib” back and forth about 300 times a second hitting it against something called a “tymbal” which creates a sound like agong hitting hammer. A scientists studying it described it this way: “If your body were like that of a cicada, he explained, you would have a thick set of muscles on either side of your torso that would allow you to cave in your chest so far that all your ribs would buckle inward one at a time into a deformed position. Releasing the muscle would allow your ribs to snap back to their regular shape and then pulling the muscle again would repeat this.”
Ulysses Was Once Banned in Four Countries
Though now considered one of the greatest books of English literature ever written, James Joyce’s Ulysses was once banned in the United States, Canada, Ireland, and England, due to its sexually explicit content, leading to the British Director of Public Prosecutions to call it a “filthy book.”
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The Author of The Da Vinci Code Was a Failed Pop Star
Before he wrote blockbuster thrillers about religious history, Dan Brown worked as a songwriter and pop singer in Los Angeles. One of his albums was Angels & Demons, using some of the same design elements in the liner notes that he would use in his novel of the same title six years later.
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James Patterson Coined the “Toys R Us Kid” Jingle
Before he got into writing massive-selling thrillers, James Patterson worked for advertising firm J. Walter Thompson, where he is credited with coming up with the jingle “I’m a Toys R Us Kid.” With earworms like that, he worked his way up to creative director in no time.
Fergie Once Voiced Charlie Brown’s Sister Sally
You knew Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie was multitalented—singer, actress, possessor of humps—but you may not have realized that she also was part of the Peanuts universe. In the 1980s, long before taking off as a pop star, she voiced the character of Charlie Brown’s sister Sally in two TV specials and the 1984 season of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show.
Columbus Thought He Saw Mermaids
During his travels, in 1493, Christopher Columbus believed he saw mermaids in the ocean, which he described as “not half as beautiful as they are painted.” More than likely, he had simply spotted manatees in the water—not so beautiful indeed.
Truman Show Delusion Is a Thing
Also known as Truman Syndrome, this is the belief in which “the patient believes that he is being filmed, and that the films are being broadcast for the entertainment of others,” according to the researchers who first coined the affliction. The researchers pointed to five different case studies in which patients suffered from this TSD.
Male Platypuses Are Venemous
They may look silly and harmless, but platypuses can be dangerous—at least certain ones. The males come equipped with sharp stingers on the heels of their rear feet that can add some extra pain to a kick. The venom has been found to resemble that in animals such as snakes, starfish, and spiders—though it’s an odd thing to find in mammals.
Female Platypuses Lay Eggs
Did we mention these are mammals? Despite that, these odd duck-billed creatures lay eggs, like a reptile or bird might, making it an intriguing example of evolution at work.
Janis Joplin Left $2,500 to Her Friends to “Have a Ball”
Janis Joplin set aside $2,500 in her will “so my friends can have a ball after I’m gone.” They did just that at her wake, held at the Lion’s Share in San Anselmo, California.
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There’s a Basketball Court in the Supreme Court Building
Dubbed “The Highest Court in the Land,” the court, on the fifth floor of the Supreme Court Building, is not open to the public and not open on court day, but has been known to host the likes of Byron White and Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
Ray Bradbury Wrote the Screenplay for Moby Dick
The man had many talents. In addition to his popular short stories and classic novels like Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury also penned the screenplay for the 1956 film Moby Dick, directed by John Huston. It was not a pleasant process though; Bradbury called it “eight long months of agonizing work, subconscious work.”
The FBI Investigated “Louie, Louie”
We all know the chorus to The Kingsmen classic version of “Louie, Louie” but that’s about it. And for the FBI, that was a problem. The organization, concerned it might contain indecent lyrics, spent several years investigating what exactly the song said—playing it backwards, at different speeds, and otherwise—and whether it was suitable to play on radio They eventually gave up when they determined it was “indecipherable.”
Snakes Have Two Penises
Called “himipenes,” these two reproductive organs only work one at a time.
Tug of War Used to Be an Olympic Event
The Biggest Bat Colony Is in Texas
If you’re creeped out by bats, stay away from Bracken Cave, Texas. This location, about 20 miles outside of downtown San Antonio, is where the largest bat colony—consisting of more than 15 million Mexican free-tailed bats that pack onto cave walls, with as many as 500 per square foot when they are pups—in the world can be found,
Sean Connery Turned Down the Role of Gandalf
The wise wizard of The Lord of the Rings almost had a bit of a 007 vibe. Sean Connery was originally offered the role that Ian McKellen would make into a classic, but turned it down—despite the offer of a 15 percent stake in the franchise’s box office profits.
”Twelve Plus One” Is an Anagram of “Eleven Plus Two”
Check for yourself. It’s true.
Barry Manilow Wrote State Farm’s “Like a Good Neighbor” Jingle
While best known for his slightly cheesy tunes like “Mandy” and “Copacabana,” Barry Manilow was a prolific writer of ad jingles for Band-Aid, Stridex, KFC, and, most famously, that perennial ditty for State Farm insurance. And for more hilarious jingles, check out these 30 Funniest Jokes Found in TV Commercials.
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