Life is weird and there are a lot of facts out there that sound too unbelievable to be true.
Did you know, for instance, that a day on Venus is longer than a year? Or that some animals are born pregnant?
These aren't to be confused with the plenty of hoaxes out there, or widely held beliefs that turn out to be wrong. Using threads from Reddit and previously published articles on BuzzFeed, Business Insider, and elsewhere on the web, here are 29 facts that sound so weird, you might think they're fake.
About 108.2 billion people have ever been born in the history of the world, according to the Population Reference Bureau. And about 7.442 billion are alive today. Do the math, and you'll see just how crazy population growth can be.
Chicken brains are concentrated at the back of the skull, and there isn't much to begin with anyway. For that reason, a decapitated chicken can survive for quite a while, living off just its nerve endings.
Mike the Headless Chicken is perhaps the most famous example. Its owner, a farmer named Lloyd Olsen, chopped his head off in 1945, but the chicken just didn't die. So the family kept him around and dropped food and water directly into his oesophagus. It finally gave out after 18 months and considerable media attention.
The Greenland Shark has the longest lifespan of all known vertebrates, living an average of 272 years, and some of them can live to be around 500 years old.
The official origin story for the Guinness Book of World Records, the annual book that catalogues all of human achievement, is that it was used to settle an argument over whether the golden plover or the red grouse is the fastest game bird in Europe. (It's the plover). One of the people arguing, Sir Hugh Beaver, the Managing Director of the Guinness Brewery, noted that the answer was hard to find in reference books. So he started one to settle these kinds of trivial arguments and the Guinness Book of World Records was born in 1955.
The form of asexual reproduction - where embryos can grow without fertilization - is rare among birds. It's also possible for plants, bugs, and some fish.
As Torech noted on Reddit, it takes a while for children to get kneecaps. That part of the skeleton is called the patella. It starts out as cartilage and then ossifies into bone at around toddler age.
Aphids are a common garden insect. And as Reddit's littlebelugawhale notes, they're weirder than they appear. Most of them are born pregnant and don't need men.
"Most aphids are born pregnant and beget females without wastrel males," the US National Library of Medicine says. "Embryos complete development within the mother's ovary one after another, in assembly line fashion. These developing embryos contain developing embryos of the third generation within them, like Russian dolls."
Once a year, aphids have sex. The weather induces another "form" for the animal, which produces eggs rather than embryos. Males are also produced asexually.
Silly Putty, the weird bouncy rubbery thing that became a bestselling toy in the second half of the 20th century, has some weird physical properties. It's a non-Newtonian fluid, which means it sometimes acts like a liquid and sometimes like a solid.
Some YouTube experimenters showed exactly what that means, dropping 50 pounds of Silly Putty from the top of a parking garage. Instead of bouncing back up, it shatters like glass and makes a crashing noise. You can watch it at around the 40-second mark in this video.
It's so fast that the punch can't be seen with the human eye. It can break through glass, and is used for hunting down prey.
Mantis Shrimps have other incredible properties. They see colour like nothing else in the animal kingdom, with 12 different photo receptor types.
Neutron stars are incredibly dense. They're very small - about 12.5 miles in diameter - but are about 1.5 times the mass of Earth's sun. "Just a sugar cube of neutron star matter would weigh about one hundred million tons on Earth," according to National Geographic. One cubic meter would be equal to the weight of the entire Atlantic Ocean, according to Futurism.
No, that's not a typo. The beloved Japanese gaming company is about 100 years older than you probably thought. Decades before Pokémon and Mario, Nintendo started out as a card game company. They slowly branched out into other forms of gaming over the years.
The first "Star Wars" movie was released on May 25, 1977. As evilcheerio pointed out on Reddit, the last person executed by guillotine in France was Hamida Djandoubi, on September 10, 1977. He was the last person to be legally executed by beheading in the Western world and the last person to be legally executed in the European Union.
Wojtek the Soldier Bear was released from the prison camps of Siberia only to be picked up in Iran by Allied forces. A Polish army looked after him, and he helped out with the war effort, moving ammunition during the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy.
Following the battle, he was promoted to the rank of a corporal. And after the Allies won World War II, he moved to Britain and lived in the Edinburgh Zoo until his death in 1963.
Let's do some math.
If a pizza has a diameter of 45.7cm, that means it has an area of 646.4 square cm.
And if a pizza has a diameter of 30.5cm, then it has an area of 287 square cm. If you get two of them, you're at 574.5 square inches, which is still less than one 45.7cm pizza.
So next time you're figuring out what size pizza to buy, use the price per square cm, not just what feels right.
The number of trees on Earth is mind-boggling, as Allisade pointed out on Reddit.
NASA estimates that there are between 100 billion and 400 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy.
And according to a paper in Nature, there are more than 3 trillion trees on Earth.
Certain types of mathematics were called "calculus" as far back as the ancient Egyptians, but calculus as we know it today was established by Gottfried Leibniz and Isaac Newton, each independently, in the late 17th century.
Harvard University was founded in 1636, first as Harvard College, to ordain ministers.
Therefore, as jeff_the_nurse said on Reddit, Harvard is older than the creation of calculus.
While Harvard is the oldest continuously operating university in the United States, it isn't even close to being the oldest one in the world. That would be the University of Al Quaraouiyine in Fez, Morocco, established in 859.
Speaking of how old colleges are: As symbiosa said on Reddit, it's not always easy to gauge historical timelines across different parts of the world. The Aztec Empire was founded in 1428. And the University of Oxford was founded in 1096.
Don't let size fool you here. Although Bangladesh is smaller than Russia, its population is 163 million people. The population of Russia is 144.3 million.
It's called the Birthday Paradox. Here's an explanation from our friends at Business Insider.
"If two people are in a room together, then there's a 364/365 chance they do not have the same birthday (if we ignore leap years and assume that all birthdays are equally likely), since there are 364 days that are different from the first person's birthday that can then be the second person's birthday.
If there are three people in the room, then the probability that they all have different birthdays is 364/365 x 363/365: As above, once we know the first person's birthday, there are 364 choices of different birthday for the second person, and this leaves 363 choices for the third person's birthday that are different from those two.
Continuing in this fashion, once you hit 23 people, the probability that all 23 have different birthdays drops below 50%, and so the probability that at least two have the same birthday is better than even."
As one Reddit user mentioned, names aren't everything. Actor Gary Oldman was born on March 21, 1958. Singer Gary Numan was born a couple of weeks earlier, on March 8, 1958.
No one knows where it is! An Air Force pilot dropped the bomb into the water outside of Savannah, Georgia, after colliding with another plane in 1958 during a training mission.
The US Navy searched for the bomb for months, but never found it.
Today, the US Military advises that it stays in its resting place. If it's undisturbed, the bomb poses no risk, the Air Force said in a 2001 report.
Here's yet another example of how our idea of history and time can get mixed up. The Egyptian Pyramids at Giza were built around 2,500 BCE. Cleopatra VII died in 30 BCE, so there's a gap of more than 2,400 years. The first Pizza Hut was founded in 1958, around 2,000 years from Cleopatra's life.
The nuts are removed individually and the fruit is often sold in juiced form. It's not the only plant that grows weird.
Honey has a perfect chemical composition that makes it never spoil. Organisms can't live inside it, meaning there's nothing that can spoil in the first place. 5,000-year-old honey has been found and, in theory, is perfectly edible.
No, baby carrots are not actually baby carrots. In case you didn't know, they're just chopped up normal carrots. Farmer Mike Yurosek invented them in 1986 as a way to use misshapen carrots that weren't sold in stores. He put them in bags, and sold them in supermarkets. By the early 1990s, they became the phenomenon they are now.
To puzzle this out, remember that one day is how long it takes for a planet to rotate on its own axis, and one year is how long it takes for a planet to rotate around the sun. Venus takes about 243 Earth Days to spin around just once (and in the opposite direction as the Earth, by the way) and 225 Earth Days to go around the sun. So a day is longer than a year.
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