They say that those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it. Seeing as history was always one of my favorite subjects in school, I really do take that phrase to heart. Learning about how far humanity has come in so many aspects of world culture, while also learning about our utter failures has so many benefits beyond getting correct answers on a test. What about all the stuff they don’t teach you in school? You know, the really weird historical facts that can impress your friends and make you look a lot smarter than you actually are? These types of weird historical facts are always fun to pull out at parties as conversation starters, or to just make yourself look like a smarty pants. Whether you’re a fan of history or not however, these 23 weird historical facts will definitely leave your scratching your head and asking yourself “How is that even possible”?
1. Yes, that is a real bird. Known as the “Magnificent Argentine Bird”, this bird lived around 6 million years ago on the plains of Argentina and in the Andes Mountains. It had a wingspan of around 21 feet, taller than two regulation basketball hoops stacked on top of each other! It’s feathers were as long as samurai swords.
2. This friendly looking fellow right here is none other than the famous Russian mystic Rasputin. His name is legendary for cheating death not once, not twice, but three times! In 1916, Rasputin survived three distinct attempts to snuff out his life in quick succession. Assassins first poisoned him, then shot him, and finally stabbed him. Yet somehow old Rasputin was still alive and kicking. The assassins finally did finish the job however by wrapping him in a blanket and tossing him in a river.
3. Alarm clocks have become a part of our everyday routine in the modern world. But what did people do before them? They had people like this lady here, Mary Smith, who was known as a “knocker upper”. Her job was to go around every morning and shoot dried peas at people’s windows in order to wake them up for work.
4. This small hand-made human figurine was found in Nampa, Idaho in 1889. Pretty standard right? Not in the slightest. This figurine was found at a depth of around 320 feet during a drilling operation. The depth that it was found at would make the time period that it was created in far before humans came to this part of the world. No one has ever been able to explain how it arrived at this spot, but plenty have come forward to simply say it is simply impossible.
5. During The Dust Bowl that crippled the central part of the United States, flour companies were shocked to learn that the poor were making clothing out of the bags they would get their flower in. So flour companies decided to start putting prints of flowers and other decorative images on their bags to help make the clothing being created a little more fashionable.
6. Chinese foot binding is pretty much just what it sounds like. In Chinese culture, smaller feet were considered to make a more attractive and feminine female. So the Chinese took to binding women’s feet together at a young age. As you might imagine, the results were pretty horrific.
7. Scientists have been baffled by this one for a while. In 1990, scientists using sonar discovered two giant pyramids, both about 6,000 feet under the ocean. The pyramids are made of some sort of smooth glass, and are estimated to be even bigger than the pyramid of Cheops in Egypt. Super Creepy.
8. The building you see in front of you is home of the Shugborough Inscription. The inscription reads “DOUOSVAVVM”. To this day, no one has been able to decipher or gain any insight as to what it might be for. Many people are convinced however that it is a clue left by the Knights Templar on how to reach The Holy Grail.
9. Just an old photograph of twins right? Not exactly. These two men have the same name, were sentenced to the same prison, and look nearly identical. However, they are not in any way related and had never met each other prior being in the same prison. They are also the reason that fingerprints are now used in the criminal justice system.
10. This is what is known as “The Spanish Donkey”. A particularly painful and gruesome form of torture that involved chaining weights to a naked victim who was straddling a wood beam. Apparently this became such a science, that the amount of pain was able to be fine tuned by adjusting the amount of weight.
11. This is pretty epic. This giant mushroom is over 2,800 years old! Located in Oregon, this mushroom’s roots cover 3.4 square miles, and they are still growing. Absolutely unreal.
12. The Catholic Church has a belief that certain Saints are “incorruptible”. While it may seem like a silly belief with modern science, Saint Cecilia is proving that it might actually be true. Saint Cecilia was martyred in 177 A.D., and her body has remained pretty much the same in the 1,700 years since. Her body actually defies the natural order and 5 of the 8 stages of death. Pretty unbelievable.
13. Mummies are scary enough as it is, the Guanajuato Mummies however are considered by many experts to be the most terrifying in existence. The horrified look on their faces lead many to believe that they were buried alive
14. This is one of the creepiest things I have ever heard of. In February of 1948, dozens of ships near Indonesia started receiving distress calls from the Dutch ship SS Ourang Medan. The messages read “All officers including captain are dead lying in the chart room and bridge. Possibly whole crew dead.” This was followed by a series of indecipherable Morse Code messages, and then one final one, “I die”. When the ship was later discovered however, the messages paled in comparison to the bodies of the crew. Everyone on the ship was dead, and every body was frozen in place looking up at the sun, with arms outstretched and a contorted, almost anguished look on their faces. And maybe the most strange of all, there were no signs of injuries on any of the bodies….absolutely chilling.
15. These small spheres about an inch or so in diameter, with three parallel lines traced along the sides, have been dug up for many years by miners in South Africa. The kicker here is that the rock they are found in, Precambrian” is dated back 2.8 billion years.
16. Joseph Stalin is one of the most brutal dictators the world has ever known. And while we all know he had no problem wiping people from existence, he apparently did it in his paintings as well. Whenever someone in a painting he was part of would be killed or disappear, he would have the painting retouched to cut them out.
17. Blackbird, who was chief of the Omaha Indians, was buried sitting astride his favorite horse.
18. King Tut was the offspring of incestuous parents. This lovely young lady was not only King Tut’s mother, but also the sister of his father, Akennaten.
19. Winston Churchill was a very interesting man. Apparently he would “limit” himself to 15 cigars a day. Now that’s what I call self-control….
20. This kind looking gentleman is General Hooker. A commander during the American Civil War, he is famously known for keeping a bevy of girls that would follow him and his troops around to keep them…..satisfied. Because of this, we now use his last name as slang for a prostitute.
21. During WWI, this monkey became a hero. He was awarded a medal and promoted to the rank of corporal. This reminds me a lot of Wojtek the bear.
22. This is Anna Mae Dickinson. While not really being famous for anything she personally did, her family has an absolutely crazy story. It started when she was 8 years old when she lost her father, and narrowly escaped death herself aboard the Titanic. She was 11 when her aunt died aboard the Lusitania, a passenger ship that was torpedoed in WWI. Tragedy struck again when her cousin Alfred was killed in the explosion of the Hindenburg, and yet again when her nephew was killed during Pearl Harbor. Finally, she had her apartment battered when the World Trade Center collapsed in 2001.
Many people say history is boring, I disagree. History is full of fun and interesting things to learn. Sometimes it bridges the gap into the weird, strange and downright disturbing. However, every part of history is what makes our world fascinating and is personally makes me want to keep learning more. So the next time someone says to you that history is boring, pull out some of these facts and see if they keep the same tune.