12 Facts That Made Us Say, 'Hey, Wait A Minute!'
Vote up all the details that make you go wide-eyed.
As random fact collectors, it's easy for us to believe at some point that we've either heard or read nearly everything interesting or weird that we could possibly stumble across.
However, just as we grow confident that we've picked up an abundance of info about animals, history, and the world around us to keep us entertained for years to come, we stumble across a few more tidbits that have us feeling shocked. Whether it's strange tales of immortal sea creatures, bizarre weather phenomena, or random historical stuff we never learned in school, this list features facts that made us say, "Hey, wait a minute!"
Vote up the ones you just learned that almost seem too strange to believe.
- Photo: Kathleen Tyler Conklin / Flickr / CC-BY 2.01162 VOTES
A Research Project Accidentally Killed Ming, The World’s Oldest Clam
Scientists first happened upon Ming the clam during an Icelandic clam-dredging expedition in 2006. Conducting research on the effects of climate change over the past 1,000 years, the group froze Ming, along with around 200 other clams, to bring back to the labs for further examination.
Like trees, ocean quahog clams record their age. After scientists counted the bands on the outside of Ming's shell, they realized they had stumbled upon a 507-year-old sea creature. Named after the Ming Dynasty that was thriving on its birthdate, the mollusk was 52 years old when Elizabeth I became queen.
Researchers noted that while Ming was the oldest identified clam, it most certainly was not the oldest clam in the sea. Moreover, the ocean quahog clam is one of the most popular species used in clam chowder in New England. It's possible that seafood lovers are indulging in clams older than Ming every day.
- Photo: Dr. Karen J. Osborn / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain281 VOTES
A Species Of 'Immortal' Jellyfish Can Entirely Regenerate Itself
Humans have searched in vain for centuries for an immortality elixir. Meanwhile, there's a jellyfish species that rejuvenates itself effortlessly through its own biology.
Turritopsis dohrnii is native to the Mediterranean Sea and has a fairly ordinary growth process. Like other jellyfish, the “immortal” jelly begins life as a fertilized egg that hatches a free-swimming larva. Larvae settle on the sea floor and form polyp colonies, which soon bud to release tiny new jellyfish that mature within a few weeks.
Unlike other jellyfish, T. dohrnii returns to its polyp stage whenever it is injured or facing starvation. After it regenerates, it still holds the exact genetic characteristics it did as an injured sea swimmer before its transformation. Scientists are studying the mechanism by which this happens, in hopes of better understanding - and possibly changing - the human aging process.
- Photo: Philippa Willitts / Flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.03138 VOTES
There Are More Ways To Arrange A Deck Of Cards Than There Are Atoms On Earth
With 8×10^67 different ways to arrange a deck of cards, more possible combinations exist than atoms on earth. While this number may seem impossibly large, considering a standard deck contains 52 cards, just rearranging the aces alone provides 24 possible combinations.
If a person were to rearrange a deck of cards every second, the universe would end before they reached the final sequence. Given this perspective, even the most experienced poker dealer has never shuffled a deck of cards into a previous sequence.
Card lovers can delight (or dismay) in knowing that each time they shuffle cards to deal a new hand, the combination has never been seen before and will never be repeated.
- Photo: Mike Mozart / Flickr / CC-BY 2.0471 VOTES
A Mysterious Gang Debilitated The 1980s Japanese Candy Industry And Never Got Caught
Known only as the “Monster With 21 Faces,” a Japanese gang attacked the country's candy industry in 1984 and never got caught. Throughout the year, the mysterious organization broke into homes and kidnapped candy executives, set fire to six cars at the Glico candy-making facility (the company that makes Pocky), and laced candy with cyanide before placing it on store shelves. Another major company, Morinaga, was also victimized by the clandestine group.
The gang sent threatening letters to the companies, which were eventually published and released to the public. In the statements, the mysterious saboteurs gave vague clues as to who they were and how to find them, while also chastising the police department for not being able to identify and catch them.
By May 1984, the terror was so widespread that Glico pulled all of its candy from store shelves. The criminals didn't abandon their mysterious threats and candy-poisonings until the head of the Shiga Prefecture police, Shoji Yamamoto, committed suicide over the stress caused by the events.
The perpetrators were never identified, and the statute of limitations on the case has now expired. If the people behind the “Monster With 21 Faces” ever reveal themselves, they would be unpunishable by law.
- Photo: Stuart Orford / Flickr / CC-BY-SA 2.0594 VOTES
Before Kentucky Fried Chicken, There Was The 'Kentucky Meat Shower'
On March 3, 1876, a woman identified as Mrs. Allen Crouch looked up from her garden to witness meat raining down from the skies and onto her and her husband's farm in Bath County, KY. Odd as the claims seemed, The New York Times reported the event a week later, complete with a reliable source witness who claimed he and another man had even tasted the meat, deducting it was either venison or mutton.
To this day, no scientific or otherworldly explanation has solved the mystery of how 3- and 4-inch chunks of fresh meat fell from the sky. At the time, one theory suggested the morsels came from animals who suffered an ill fate from a nearby exploding planet.
While the most recent theory of vultures vomiting their food to take flight in a hurry seems plausible, it doesn't account for the fact that Crouch stated the sky was completely clear. Transylvania University's Kurt Gohde argues that accepting the vulture theory goes against the only eyewitness to the event, and that it's likely she would have noticed if vultures were vomiting enough meat from the sky to cover an entire football field.
- Photo: Gunilla Lagnesjö, Margareta Ekroth-Edebo / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY 4.0669 VOTES
Museum Patrons Used To Dine Inside The Malm Whale In Göteborg, Sweden
In the mid-1800s, whales that washed up on the shore were usually slaughtered, not saved. Typical for the time period, when fishermen found a blue whale on a beach near Göteborg, Sweden, in 1865, they tormented it until it perished.
When zoologist and museum curator August Wilhelm Malm heard the news, he offered to pay the fishermen for the whale's body, then quickly hired workers to haul it to the Gothenburg Natural History Museum, where he began the preservation process. (Gothenburg is another name for Göteborg).
Soon the whale was ready for display, complete with a hinging jaw that Malm planned to leave open so visitors could walk inside a real blue whale's mouth and experience the vastness of its body. On some occasions, patrons even dined within the whale's belly walls.
The cetacean remained open-mouthed until the 1930s, when a couple was caught enjoying an intimate activity inside. Although the Malm Whale is still on display at the museum, its mouth remains closed except for special occasions.