People From Around The World Share Facts So Baffling They Seem Impossible

People From Around The World Share Facts So Baffling They Seem Impossible

Sometimes blurting out a random surprising fact can be a great way to break the ice or stave off an awkward silence. That's why we gathered together some of the most unbelievable (but true) factoids from people all around the world into this article. Feel free to use them to liven up your smalltalk. We won't tell anyone!

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52. The old krappenshutz

A German sub in World War 2 sank because the skipper didn't know how to flush the new toilet which caused seawater to flood in and create chlorine gas when when it came into contact with the ship's batteries. Even worse for them, when they surfaced the Royal Navy had a ship right next to them. The Germans scuttled the ship and 4 men died before the remaining crew were captured.

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51. I declare a thumb war

There once existed an alleged theoretical state of war that lasted 335 years and 19 days, and was between the Dutch and an archipelago off the coast of southwest England called the Isles of Scilly.

What's more, there were no casualties (because the Dutch forgot that they were at war with the Isles).

It wasn't until a Scilly historian contacted the Dutch about the "war" in 1985, and received the information that the "war" was still technically ongoing, that a peace treaty was signed in 1986.

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50. Disney fingers

Disney park employees point with two fingers instead of one. The reason for this (that they tell you), is that pointing with one finger in other cultures is disrespectful.

While that is true, they usually avoid the part that Walt Disney himself use to point with two fingers... Because he was always smoking. They actually go to great lengths to hide this, and any official picture of him has the cigarette photoshopped out. It only still exists in old videos because of how hard it was to not show that.

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49. Asteroid rage

If you took all of the asteroids in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and mashed them together into a single big object, it would only amount to 4% the mass of Earth's Moon.

The largest asteroid, Ceres, accounts for about 1/3 of the total mass of the asteroid belt.

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48. Pope and anti-pope

During the Papal election of 1292-1294, the cardinals were taking a long time to select a Pope. A hermit wrote to the cardinals saying if they didn't choose a pope soon, God would be mad. The cardinals elected this hermit as Pope Celestine V. He initially refused and had to be dragged to Rome. He spent his entire papacy writing the rule that popes were allowed to resign. When he was finished writing it, he resigned.

Then afterwards, he was imprisoned by the next pope who was worried he would become an “antipope.” He died in prison two years later at 81.

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47. Team work makes the dream work

No one ant knows how an ant colony works, yet an ant colony emerges from many ants. Each single ant is following its basics impulses and reflexes based on it's immediate surroundings, and yet the colony can react to intruders, build more tunnels, and gather food as if it were one large entity. It's a commonly known fact, but I think it's pretty mind boggling when you think about it

What's even more mind boggling is if you use this to think about your brain. Your neurons are the ants and your brain is the ant colony. Each neuron can receive electrical input from any number of other neurons firing. If the amount of input crosses a threshold (unique to each neuron), it itself fires. This electrical impulse then travels to any number of other neurons, and the same process occurs in each of them. This is how your brain works. From this simple process emerges complex thought. You are not the neurons in your brain, you are the extremely complex colony of neurons that emerges. Each neuron is utterly meaningless, but from this meaninglessness forms meaning, all the amazing things your brain can do.

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46. You're bugging me

Cicadas live underground for several years and emerge only to reproduce. The number of years they take to come above ground is mostly a prime number. Each species has its own prime number of years they stay underground.

The reason to be a prime number is that it reduces drastically the chance of two different species meeting above ground in the same year and crossbreed, weakening the genes of both species.


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45. This one messes with your mind

You can boil water in a paper cup over an open flame. My dad showed me this when I was like 6 and I was pretty sure he must be a witch.

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44. This poor, poor woman

The record for most children born to one mother is 69, to the wife of Feodor Vassilyev (b. 1707–c.1782), a peasant from Shuya, Russia. In 27 labors, she gave birth to 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets and four sets of quadruplets.

Her name was Valentina Vassilyeva.

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43. Shows you what the Nobel Prize is worth

People were deliberately infected with malaria to cure their syphilis, and the man who developed this treatment, Julius Wagner-Jauregg, received the Nobel Prize for it.

(The extremely high fevers of the malaria infections killed the syphilis bacteria, then the patients were cured of the malaria using quinine.)

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42. Here comes the sun

If sound could travel through space, the roar of the sun would be deafening even though it's 93M miles away. Fortunately, sound can't carry through a vacuum.

The sun is 290 decibels. If space could carry sound it would still be 125 dB by the time it got to earth.

It'd be like a jackhammer everywhere all the time.

If course if that happened we'd probably evolve to be deaf in that audio spectrum so we wouldn't notice.

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41. He took the scenic route

From 1613 to 1620, a Samurai travelled to Rome by way of Mexico. During this time, Shakespeare was still alive, Virginia had been founded for around a decade, Galileo was accused of heresy, and Pocahantes arrived in England. He met the Pope he was made a Roman citizen. His name was Hasekura Tsunenaga, and was the last japanese person to officially visit Europe until around 1860.

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40. Rain delay

The longest time between two twins being born is 87 days.

Kilkenny, Ireland. A woman gave birth to twins Amy Ann and Kate Marie ("Katie") Elliot 87 days apart, making them the twins with the longest interval between their births. The twins were born at Waterford Regional Hospital. Amy was born prematurely on 1 June 2012 and Kate followed on 27 August. - Guinness World Records

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39. The great dictator

Saddam Hussein was an erogenous romance novelist in his spare time as the dictator of Iraq.

He also had a Quran bound in human flesh, it was a Quran written in his own blood. He hired a calligrapher to write it over the span of two years using vials of his blood. It was bound in goat leather.

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38. Wesley Snipes

The most successful sniper in the history of Western Civilization was likely Simo Häyhä, of Finland.

During the Winter War of 1939-1940, when the Russians invaded, Häyhä set himself up in a tree, in below freezing temperatures (-4 *F to -40 *F), armed with only two weapons, (possibly) a M/28-30 rifle and a Suomi KP/-31 submachine gun.

And then he started killing Russians. Lots and lots of Russians.

Just learned that on one particular day, Häyhä recorded twenty-five kills.

When the Russians realized that this one sniper was picking them off, they set counter-snipers to kill him. Häyhä killed them all. So the Russians sent artillery strikes and those didn't work either. After killing an average of five Russians a day for over three months, Häyhä was finally stopped when a Russian solider (that he shot and killed at the same time) managed to get off a shot with an explosive bullet that struck him in the jaw.

At the end of his career, Häyhä had five hundred and five confirmed kills, and is estimated to have killed at least three hundred more soldiers.

Oh, and that explosive bullet didn't actually kill him. Häyhä survived and later became a successful dog breeder and moose hunter.

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37. You're grounded

There were more planes destroyed in World War II than there are (currently intact) planes on Earth today. In fairness, that's because everyone was making craploads of planes, but that gives you a sense of the level of devastation WWII brought about.

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36. The stuff of nightmares

There is an extremely rare condition called "Stone Man Syndrome." It causes any injury, even the smallest damage done to tissue, to regrow into a bone, speaking briefly. People affected by this sickness slowly turn into living statues as they get older. Eventually, their entire body is basically bone.

I saw a documentary on this once. One advanced sufferer had to explain to a young girl with the syndrome, that at some point she was going to have to make a choice - be frozen forever standing up or be frozen forever sitting down, and the pros and cons of both. Utterly chilling.

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35. I'm a rocket man

More people died making the V2 rockets during WW2 than were killed by them.

Another fun fact about V2 rockets:

Germany was facing a large issue with rocket fuel shortages during the project because people kept drinking it. The fuel was made from 70% ethyl alcohol and 30% water, distilled from potatoes. It was the most economically viable fuel at the time, since they were already very low on other fuels. To stop workers from drinking it, they denatured the ethanol (essentially poisoning it) but people kept drinking it anyways and getting extremely ill. This simply caused people to start leaving the V2 program, suggesting that they were only in it for the free drinks.

This also means that any potable over 70% ABV is stronger than actual WW2 rocket fuel.

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34. It seems like a lot of things are Vienna's fault

Stalin, Hitler, and Freud all lived in Vienna at the same time. And as others have pointed out, Tito and Trotsky were also there.

Imagine a sitcom with them all as roommates.

"Come on, Stalin, stop eating my food!"

"It is OUR food Freud. I will stop eating it when you stop banging your mother!"

Cut to opening credits.


33. The pearly gates

If you earned $1 every second, it would take 2,921 years to have more money than Bill Gates. So you better start earning now if you want to catch him...

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32. One of the most amazing stories in history

A 500 lb. chain-smoking, beer-drinking brown bear named Wojtek was enlisted and served in the Polish army during WWII. "Private Wojtek" helped the Polish win the brutal Battle of Monte Cassino, and was even promoted to corporal. Following the war, he retired to a zoo in Scotland. Polish veterans would show up to share drinks and smokes with him since he never lost his taste for them.


31. Time is relative

We live many times closer to the last dinosaur than the first and last dinosaur did to each other. And Cleopatra lived closer to the first man on the moon than to the time the pyramids were built. Isn't that a trip?

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30. A truly inexplicable life

The life of Frane Selak, the luckiest unlucky man in the world:

• January 1962- Frane is riding on a train through a freezing canyon when it fell into an icy river. All 17 other passengers died while he escapes with a broken arm and hypothermia.

• 1963- On his first plane trip he was sucked out of the plane’s door and landed in a haystack, unscathed. 19 other people were killed in the crash.

• 1966- He was riding in a bus when it skidded off the road into yet another icy river. 4 passengers drowned while he only received some minor cuts and bruises.

•1970- His car’s engine burst into flames while he was driving but he managed to escape before it exploded.

•1973- In yet another driving incident, his car’s engine was doused with hot oil from a broken fuel pump. This caused flames to shoot through the air vents, singing off all of his hair. He was otherwise unharmed.

•1995- He was hit by a bus but only sustained minor injuries.

•1996- To escape a head-on collision with a United Nations truck on a mountain curve, he swerved into a guard rail that broke on impact. To save himself, he jumped out of his car’s open door and grabbed onto a tree branch as he watched his car plummet off the cliff.

Suffice to say the guy had a complicated relationship with the Grim Reaper.

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29. Okay, but we should actually do this

If every single person on the entire planet took part in a 'rock, paper, scissors' contest, where everyone paired up and played, losers were knocked out and winners stayed in etc...

You would only have to win 33 times in a row to beat all 7.53 billion people on the planet!

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28. Truth is stranger than fiction

When Mount Everest was first measured, it was exactly 29,000 feet. It was reported as 29,002 because exactly 29,000 was not considered believable.

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27. We can't even comprehend stuff like this

To scale, the distance between the nucleus of an atom and an orbiting electron is 16 times greater than the distance between the Sun and Pluto. Every atom really is like its own little solar system. Kind of blows your mind.

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26. Time flies

Oxford University predates the Aztec empire by over 200 years.

And, for fun one of my other favorites: Woolly mammoths were still around at the time the Great Pyramids in Giza were built.

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25. I Love Lincoln

An eyewitness to Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s Theater later told his story... on national television.

Or, to put this factoid in a manner which makes it sound even crazier (but is still factually true)...

An eyewitness to Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s Theater appeared as a contestant on a nationally televised game show with Lucille Ball.

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24. Good to know all that invasion of privacy is worth it

TSA's Fail rate is over 80%.

I personally know someone who in his carry-on accidentally packed a loaded handgun, made it on the plane, and was so freaked out when he landed, he UPS'ed it back home and took a greyhound bus after his trip.

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23. The prodigal sun

If you're launching from Earth, the most difficult place to reach in the solar system is the sun.

The reason for this is that to fly directly into the sun you need to first launch from Earth, and then remove all of your orbital velocity around the sun. Anything less will just put you into a different orbit around the sun rather than directly into it. The amount of power required for that to do it directly is basically impossible currently.

As an alternative, you could, for relatively little power, fly all the way out to Pluto's distance, slow down much less, and then fall back into the sun. The trade-off being the travel time is now about 90 years.

There are other in-between paths that will could get you there for different balances of energy and time but all of them are tougher than getting basically anywhere else in the solar system with an equivalent balance.

There's a mission currently traveling to study the sun, the Parker Solar Probe. It won't be flying directly in, but plans to make the closest passes that any probe ever has. It's going to make seven passes by Venus to shed speed so it can get closer and closer to the sun. The full flight time is planned as just less than 7 years. As of this post they are 1 week shy of a year in.

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22. Not to fuel conspiracy theorists, but...

It's pretty well known by now, but calculators today have more computing power than Apollo 11. We got to the moon with slide rulers and huge balls.


21. Bad with directions, great with knives

Switzerland has accidentally invaded the tiny neighboring country of Liechtenstein thrice in the last 50 years.

  • On the first time in 1976, Swiss military got lost and ended up in Liechtenstein, so the Liechtensteiners offered them drinks like proper hosts.
  • On the second time in 1992, Swiss military forgot that a certain observation post was actually not in Swiss territory but in Liechtenstein territory, so they just said sorry and forgot about it.
  • Then again in 2007, the Swiss army got lost and entered Liechtenstein, but eventually realized they weren't in Switzerland anymore, Toto, so they turned back. Liechtenstein didn't even know this happened till the Swiss apologized (again), to which they basically said, no problem, bro.

Takeaways: The Swiss army are bad with directions. The Liechtenstein people are chill bros.


20. That doesn't sound like fun

A morbidly obese person can survive with absolute starvation without any sickness or feeling ill (under close control). There have been studies since 60's, there is a patient in 1973 who went under a 382 day starvation diet for therapuetic purposes under close control with only vitamin and mineral supplements and water intake without protein, carbohydrate or fat intake (no food at all). Dropped from 456 lbs to 194 lbs and maintained it.

After a follow up check-up 5 years later, the patient was 211 lbs, stabilized. Prolonged fasting had no ill effects. If anybody is curious about the article, the Pubmed ID is: PMC2495396.

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19. Scale facts are always mind-blowing

If Earth was a basketball, to scale the moon would be a tennis ball. It would orbit around 7.5 meters away, which is a lot farther than most people think.

If the nucleus of a hydrogen atom was a tennis ball, to scale the electron would orbit at about 2500 meters away. There is no ball small enough to compare to how small electrons would still be at this scale.

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18. The difference between a millionaire and a billionaire

A million seconds ago was the week before last. A billion seconds ago was November, 1987.

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17. Mother tongues

There is no good metric for 'the number of languages on earth'. This is mostly because linguists cannot agree on what constitutes a new language and what constitutes a dialect of an existing language.

The best current metric of how many languages exist is the number of translations of the Christian bible.

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16. Yeah, but how am I supposed to find them?

Even if 99% of Earth's population thought you were unattractive, 76 million people would still find you attractive.

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15. The power of the shuffle

There are more trees on the earth than stars in the Milky Way.

Every time you shuffle a deck of cards, you've probably made an entirely unique order, as compared to every other shuffle in history. As strange as it seems, there are more unique possibilities for card order than there are atoms in the solar system. A lot more.

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14. That's some serious necking

The male giraffe will continuously head butt the female in the bladder until she urinates. The male then tastes the pee and that helps it determine whether the female is ovulating. If she is, it's business time.


13. The amount of effort...

The longest piece of literature, in the English language, is 3.5 million words long (and counting), is written by a 21 year old guy in Arizona, and is a fan fiction of Super Smash Bros Brawl.

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12. How to put a shark on 'sleep' mode

That sharks, when rolled on their back, go into stasis mode. Not sure how random or unknown that is but I find it interesting as heck that a killing machine like that just goes sleepypoo.

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11. Figures of speech

The phrase "hands down" comes from horse racing and refers to a jockey who is so far ahead that he can afford drop his hands and loosen the reins (usually kept tight to encourage a horse to run) and still easily win.

Also, the phrase "balls out" doesn't have anything to with man bits. It references old school speed governors on machinery. The faster it spins, the more those balls sling outward. This is rigged to limit the speed. If the machine is going balls out, its going really fast.

The throttle of airplanes in WWII had a round, ball-like top; so going "balls to the wall" meant pushing the throttle all the way forward making the aircraft go as fast as it possibly could.


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10. Danger in the safe

At one point in time, all the details of the Manhattan project were in three safes, each locked with the code 27, 18, 28. Mathematicians would of course recognize these numbers as the euler number, 2.71828, a number that has wide importance in calculus.

Physicist Richard Feynman was able to crack into these safes after snooping around the secretary's desk and finding the number pi, 3.14159. After thinking, "Why would a secretary need to know the value of pi" he deduced it was probably a code so he tried it on the safes. After they didn't work he tried other numbers that mathematicians and physicists would use and sure enough, e worked.

After he got into the safes he thought to pull a prank on the director by leaving little notes in the safe to scare the director into thinking that a spy had gotten in.

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9. Fun football facts

Brett Favre's first completed pass in the NFL was to himself for -7 yards.

A fun fact for younger football fans: This was in Favre's second pro season. He debuted in 1991 for the team that drafted him, the Atlanta Falcons. He only took 5 snaps for Atlanta, resulting in two interceptions (one being a pick six), two incompletions, and a sack.

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8. B-A-N-A-N-A-S

Twinkies used to be filled with banana cream until WWII, when bananas were rationed due to a shortage. The company then switched to using vanilla cream filling, which turned out to be more popular, so they didn't reintroduce the banana cream.

Also, the Banana flavor you experience in candies (think Banana Runts) is pretty close to the actual flavor of bananas. It's just that that specific breed of banana went extinct, and the ones we have now are bland in comparison.

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7. You suck

Only female mosquitoes possess the mouth parts capable of penetrating skin. They feed on blood to mature their eggs. The males feed on plant sap.

They can transmit malaria because they bite. That's the reason only females transmit malaria, because they're the only ones taking blood meals and therefore getting infected with it.

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6. He said it three times!

Betelgeuse is the 31st biggest star we know of in the universe. It is so big that, if you replaced our sun and put Betelgeuse in its spot, Betelgeuse would almost reach Jupiter's orbit.

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5. Insult to injury

In WWII, an American airman by the name of Alan Magee survived a free fall from 22,000 ft without a parachute and became a prisoner of war for 2 years.

In 1943 he was in a B-17 making a bombing run over France when plane's wing was shot off by German fighters. As the plane entered a spin he leapt out without a parachute and immediately lost consciousness from the altitude. After falling 4 miles he crashed through the glass ceiling of the St. Nazaire railroad station and onto the floor below where he was captured as a prisoner of war. He suffered almost 30 shrapnel wounds, several broken bones, severe damage to his nose, eyes, lungs, kidneys, and his right arm was nearly severed off. His captors treated him back to health.

He was liberated in 1945 and awarded an Air Medal and a Purple Heart.

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4. Ain't no mountain high enough

Olympus Mons on Mars, the tallest known mountain in the solar system, is so large at its base that an observer on its peak wouldn’t know he was standing on a mountain because its slope would be obscured by the curvature of the planet itself.

It's so tall that it has 5 mile high sheer cliffs at its base. Imagine looking at a solid wall that's roughly the height of Mt Everest... And that's just at the bottom.

It gives me shivers up my spine thinking about that. We need to colonize mars just so we can watch somebody climb it.

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3. That's why you don't trust anecdotal evidence

One day Mao Zedong, the Communist leader of China, saw a sparrow eating grain. Thinking that the sparrows were hurting China's grain supply, he and the Communist Party launched the Four Pests Campaign. The Chinese military and population killed every sparrow they could find. Embassies didn't allow the Chinese to kill sparrows on their property, so the Chinese banged pots and pans outside the embassies 24/7 until the sparrows died of exhaustion. Unfortunately for the Chinese, sparrows mainly eat insects, not grain. The locust population exploded and 43 million people starved to death.

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2. You're tall because of anchovies

Anchovies are the reason chicken is so abundant in America.

You see, back in the 1920s and 30s, chicken breast cost as much as steak. Meanwhile a bunch of fishermen off the coast of South America were catching tons and tons of anchovies because they were so plentiful, and didn't know what to do with them all. They shipped the anchovies up to the states and it was so cheap and high in protein a bunch of it was turned into chicken feed. The new anchovy chicken feed drove the cost of raising chickens down, which in turn drove the price down, thereby making chicken much more available for average American families to consume on a regular basis.

The anchovies were replaced with corn feed after corn became cheaper, but the price of chicken never went back up. By that time, American families were used to eating chicken on a regular basis.

On a related note, before this happened most American families would eat some form of meat only once or twice per week at max. Poorer families would get some form of meat maybe once per month. The rest was fruits, vegetables, and grains. Once chicken became less expensive, people would eat it much more often. This meant children were getting lots more protein than any generation before them had ever gotten, and some people attribute increased growth and physical development of children to the increase in protein. We, as a species, have been getting significantly taller in the last 100 years, and the availability of chicken may be to blame.

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1. Alien is real

Eels actually have two jaws. The first being like a normal jaw, the second being hidden in their throat. The secondary jaw lunges forward when the eel bites down on prey, bites down on the piece within the mouth and bites a chunk out of it, pulling it down the throat. Think about the alien in the movie Alien, the secondary mini-mouth they use is based off an eels anatomy.

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