Random Fact Sheet #281 – 40 Surprising Facts That’ll Ignite Your Curiosity

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1Józef Unrug

Józef Unrug

After a Polish Admiral of German descent, Józef Unrug was taken prisoner during World War 2, his former Imperial German Navy friends came to visit him. Unrug refused to speak German with them, saying that he had forgotten that language in September 1939 the day Germany invaded Poland.

2. There is a species of sheep named North Ronaldsay sheep on the island of North Ronaldsay in Scotland that survives entirely on seaweed. A wall was built around the island to protect crops from sheep grazing, limiting them to the shoreline where they have adapted to survive on seaweed.

3. Leaving cookies and milk for Santa started to become popular in the U.S during the Great Depression. Parents wanted to teach their kids it was better to give and to be grateful for presents they received during times of economic hardship.

4. Clue used to be spelled "clew". This was due to clew meaning "a ball of twine" which was symbolic of following the string through a maze and helping find "the way" or "an answer."

5. Jackie Chan sang "I'll Make a Man Out of You" for the Mandarin and Cantonese versions of Mulan (1998).

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A Neanderthal skeleton which was named Nandy was recovered in Iraq. He suffered extensive injuries, including the loss of an arm early in his life, and was unlikely to have been able to care for himself. Despite this, he lived until the age of 45, suggesting that he was cared for by his society.

7. The company that produces the Jenga game initially wanted to change its name to "Timber!" or "Tumbling". This is because it didn't indicate how the game was played and people wouldn't know what it meant. The original creator refused because she thought the name would gain meaning later on.

8. Dave Grohl does not know how to read music and plays only by ear.

9. Clara Blandick, known for her role as Auntie Em in The Wizard of Oz, committed suicide in 1962 following a period of poor health. Before dying, she arranged her room with photos, memorabilia, and press clippings from her career, and dressed in a royal blue dressing gown with her hair styled.

10. American abolitionist Frederick Douglass was the most photographed American of the 19th century.

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11Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. considered running for president in 1968 after being urged to by anti-Vietnam Democrats but ultimately decided against the proposal as he felt uneasy with politics and considered himself better suited for his morally unambiguous role as an activist.

12. Contrary to its clichéd use in crime fiction, it takes at least five minutes of inhaling an item soaked in chloroform to render a person unconscious.

13. Red squirrels make mushroom jerky, hanging fungi on tree branches to dry for winter storage.

14. Gold can grow on Eucalyptus trees. In its search for water, the Eucalyptus tree absorbs gold particles dissolved in the water deep underground, then storing the gold in the leaves of the tree. This is a cheap and effective way to discover new gold deposits in Australia.

15. In 1917, malaria was used as a treatment for syphilis. “Pyrotherapy” would burn syphilis out of the system. While the patient then had Malaria, this was a far less lethal disease than syphilis and was considered less painful to die from.

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Milhouse Van Houten from The Simpsons was originally designed by Matt Groening for a Butterfinger commercial before being added to the show. His name originates from Richard Nixon's middle name, Milhous, which according to Groening was the most unfortunate name he could think of for a kid.

17. In 1877, a 35-year-old attorney from Montana named George Cowan was shot 3 times in the head. He then crawled to make coffee at an old camp, crawled through Yellowstone, crossed a river, got burned in a forest fire, had surgery to remove bullets, got thrown from a carriage before it rolled over a cliff, and while receiving care afterwards, his bed broke.

18. The Citadel of Erbil is a mound that has continuously been inhabited since 5000 B.C. In 2007 all inhabitants were temporarily evicted to conduct a restoration project, except for a single-family, who was allowed to stay so as to not break the continuous habitation record.

19. The San Diego Zoo is the only zoo outside of Australia to have Platypuses. When they were sent from Australia, in 2019, it was the first time in 50 years that Platypuses had been cared for outside of Australia.

20. Plants make up 82% of the total biomass of Earth. Of all the mammals on Earth, 96% are livestock and humans, only 4% are wild mammals. Of all the birds on Earth, 70% are chicken and poultry, 30% are wild birds. The total biomass of the human race accounts for just 0.01% of all life on Earth.

21Eva Peron

Eva Peron

When Argentine film actress Eva Peron died at the age of 33, her body was embalmed and put on display. After a military coup, it was lost for 16 years until it was found in Italy and returned to her husband who kept it in his dining room. Upon his death, both corpses were displayed together briefly before finally being buried.

22. The cowardly lion costume in the Wizard of Oz was made of real lion fur, skin, and human hair. It recently sold at an auction for $3 million.

23. John Carpenter's "The Thing" was the first movie in a Trilogy by Carpenter named "The Apocalypse Trilogy" all set in the same universe beginning with 'The Thing', followed by 'Prince of Darkness' and ending with 'In the Mouth of Madness.'

24. The use of the term "starboard" to denote the right side of a ship is so-called because they were originally navigated with a steering oar on that side. “stéor bord” in Old English literally means “steering side”. When tying up, the dock always had to be positioned on the left, hence “port.”

25. Horses evolved in the great plains of North America. They migrated across the Bering land bridge to Asia, and all remaining horses died out in America. When the Spanish brought horses with them in the 16th century, they were returning them to their native ranges.

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