Monthly Archive: July 2014

The Toad That Fights With Its Mustache

Think you’ve got an awesome mustache? Well, your facial fur is nothing compared to the Emei mustache toad’s. Once a year, this Chinese amphibian grows a needle-sharp mustache . . . only it isn’t for looks. The toad uses these spikes to do battle with rivals, and the winner earns the right to mate.

Yawning Has Nothing To Do With Our Lack Of Oxygen

We all yawn, and now we know we even do it before we’re born. And we’ve all heard that we yawn because our brain is getting a bit oxygen-starved, and the massive inhale is a pick-me-up for the brain. Only science has found that it’s not true—the real motivation behind yawning is that the air intake acts as a cooling system for the brain, helping it work more efficiently.

The Real Reason No One Smiled In Old Photographs

Over the years, many theories have popped up trying to explain why smiles are so rare in old photographs. The most popular ideas were that people didn’t want to show their bad teeth or, alternatively, that it was impractical to hold a smile during the long exposure times of early cameras. While these issues might have prevented some from grinning, the major reason for the serious looks was because most people thought smiling made them look ridiculous.

The Most Painful Place To Be Stung By A Bee

Justin Schmidt and Michael Smith are two peas in the proverbial pod. Both are fascinated with venomous insects and painful experiments. In 1984, Schmidt conducted a bizarre test to see which bug had the worst sting, but Smith one-upped him with a study published earlier this year. This Cornell grad student let honeybees sting him all over his body in an odd quest to find the most painful spot to get stung by a bee. He ranked the nose as the worst of the worst.

The Man Who Recorded Literally Everything In His Diary

Lots of people keep diaries and journals, whether it’s online or on paper. But Robert Shields took journaling to a whole new level, chronicling literally every moment of his life for 25 years. The result—a 37.5-million-word diary—has only been released to the public in bits and pieces, as he only recently passed away in 2007. Fifty years after his death, anyone who’s interested will be able to read the whole thing.

The Different Ways To Be Dead

The more we learn about the human body, the trickier it is to define just what death is. A person can be different types of dead; when a person is declared brain dead, that means that all brain activity has stopped, including control over the rest of the body’s function. But there’s also circulatory death, in which only the lungs, heart, and the circulatory system stop functioning. One can happen without the other, and it’s led to some tricky moral questions about just when a person is legally, absolutely, completely dead.

When Humans And Killer Whales Hunted Together

We all know commercial whaling is a horrible industry. Thanks to over-hunting, many cetaceans are critically endangered. However, in the middle of this gruesome history, there‚Äôs a bizarre story of man and whales working together . . . to kill more whales. For nearly 40 years, orcas and Australian whalers tag-teamed baleen whales and happily divided the spoils.

Lyndon Johnson’s Amphibious Auto

Picking up the presidential reigns after Kennedy’s assassination and then dealing with the Vietnam War undoubtedly led to serious pressures for Lyndon B. Johnson. To combat these, he managed to de-stress in some most unusual ways, including driving on water in an amphibious car. While he obviously loved cruising across the water, it seems his biggest pleasure from the experience came from shocking unsuspecting passengers as he drove them, in what seemed like an ordinary car, straight into a lake.

‘Hot Dog’ And Many Other Names Came From Anti-German Sentiment

Anti-German sentiment was no less present in America during World War I than it was during World War II. Because many people wanted language to become less German and more American, in 1918 you would have been feeding liberty sausages to your liberty pups rather than giving your dachshund a frankfurter. Liberty sausage might not have caught on as term, but the other invented name did—the hot dog.