It took a remarkably long time for giant tortoises to receive proper scientific classification due almost entirely to sailors inability to resist eating them before completing the voyage back to Europe to deliver the specimen—by all historic accounts, tortoise meat is astoundingly delicious.
Despite the long-standing belief that Orson Wells’ infamous War of the Worlds radio broadcast incited panic in listeners, the panic is a myth—a myth that was heavily promoted and perpetuated by newspapers in a bid to discredit radio as an emerging entertainment and news format.
Foreign accent syndrome is a rare condition in which patients, thanks to neurological or muscular damage caused by a stroke, head trauma, or other event, develop speech patterns that are perceived as sounding like a foreign accent to listeners. In this way, a person speaking American English might sound “French” or “German” to the listener, but they have not gained any knowledge of the language, they simply have altered speaking patterns as a result of the precipitating event that mimics traits of that language.
Sand cats, Felis margarita, are found throughout regions in Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East, but studying them is particularly frustrating for researchers since the cats’ highly adapted paws—which are covered with wiry, black fur to protect the pads of their paws from scorching desert sand—render their footprints almost invisible.
Tree branches are generally supplied with nutrients from roots that share the same side of the trunk as they do; it’s common when a tree has root damage for the branches in the tree’s canopy corresponding to those roots to wilt or die off (some trees are an exception, so a root injury may show itself anywhere in the tree’s canopy).
Much like human test takers, rats, as revealed in recent laboratory studies, have a habit of skipping over tasks they’ve forgotten how to do—the interesting implication of the research is that rats may have “metamemory”, the ability to know what they do and don’t remember without actually recalling the forgotten memory itself.
The United Kingdom has no native land turtles (although it is visited by sea turtles)—all terrestrial turtles in the United Kingdom are introduced species, like the red-eared terrapin, that have become naturalized over time.
The red fox, Vulpes vulpes, the most common fox in the world, is also the largest fox with the heaviest specimens generally weighing up to around 31 pounds.
In 2001, New Zealand appointed Pete Hodgson, a member of Parliament, to the position of “Minister of the Rings” and tasked him with investigating how the country could capitalize on the economic and tourism boost provided by the Lord of the Rings films.
During World War II, the capital cities of all involved European countries were occupied with the exception of London, Helsinki, and Moscow.
Despite its prevalence in action movies and war films, pulling a grenade pin with your teeth is a terrible idea—the pins are difficult to pull on purpose and require a strong pull to dislodge.
If Johnny Depp hadn’t been available to play Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the second choice and fall back option was Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.