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    107 Things I Learned In May That Are So Incredible I'll Likely Never Forget Them

    The deadliest bird on Earth, 3,300-year-old pants, what Abraham Lincoln's voice *really* sounded like, and much more.

    Before you continue reading, I want you to know that this post *might* contain a bunch of facts you've already read.

    Some context: I write a weekly series, published on Saturday mornings, where I round up a bunch of cool facts I learned that week. Then, at the end of every month, I take everything I learned and put it all into one convenient place for your reading pleasure — and that's what you're reading now. Here's the one I wrote in April.

    SO, without further ado, here are 107 Things I Learned In May™️:

    1. These terrifying-looking animals lived about 300 million years before the dinosaurs existed:

    2. Much like humans, each and every chimpanzee has a unique fingerprint:

    3. Believe it or not, Bluetooth really was named after a Scandinavian king who united Norway and Denmark in the year 958:

    4. The water inside this vial is 1.6 billion years old. It was discovered inside an old mine on the Canadian Shield, which is an ancient geological formation that was part of the ocean floor many millions of years ago. Not only is this water teaching us about what life was like on Earth all those years ago, but it's also providing hope that a similar discovery — ancient, life-supporting water — could be found on Mars:

    A vial of murky water

    5. Goosebumps are typically an involuntary reaction that's triggered by such things as temperature or emotion. For some people, however, it's not involuntary at all. There's a phenomenon called Voluntarily Piloerection where a very small percentage of people can actually give themselves goosebumps on command. Some estimate that only 1 in 1,500 people possess this mysterious ability — do you?

    An arm with goosebumps

    6. The Kowloon Walled City, which was demolished in 1994 to make room for a park, was once the most densely populated place on Earth. Upward of 40,000 people, crammed into roughly 200 tightly packed towers, lived within an area that amounted to little more than a city block. It wasn't just a living space; it contained bars, restaurants, brothels, slaughterhouses, factories, and much more. Because it was built around an old Qing dynasty fortress, the British government — which ruled over Hong Kong at the time — had no jurisdiction over the Walled City, making it a completely autonomous and lawless enclave:

    7. And here's a photo of one of its thoroughfares:

    8. This is Martin Laurello, who had various stage names such as "Revolving-head man," "the Human Owl," and "Bobby the Boy with the Revolving Head" due to his very unsettling ability to turn his head 180 degrees. He was also allegedly able to sip this beer with his head turned around:

    A man with his head turned completely backwards

    9. In 1961, Gus Grissom became the second American ever to go to space on a flight that lasted only 15 minutes and 30 seconds. As the capsule plummeted back toward Earth and landed in the Atlantic Ocean, everything was going exactly as planned — that is, until the escape hatch blew open way earlier than expected. The capsule filled with water and sank, and Grissom nearly drowned in the process. The Liberty Bell Capsule spent 38 years on the ocean floor, at a depth of 16,000 feet (4876.8 meters). In 1999 it was salvaged and restored, and it's currently on display in the National Air And Space Museum in Washington, DC:

    10. These are Vietnamese mossy frogs, and they're masters of camouflage:

    11. You've of course heard of Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison, but you may not have heard of Lewis Latimer, one of the first Black inventors in the United States. Latimer was a brilliant inventor in his own right whose contributions helped catapult Bell and Edison into the pantheon of great American inventors — only, Latimer was self taught because he didn't have the same access to education as these other two did. Thomas Edison's lightbulbs, which he patented and claimed full credit for, had one major flaw: they would blow out almost immediately. It was Latimer who found that carbon filaments would last longer, a discovery that would revolutionize the world:

    12. Kurt Cobain's daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, is now older than he was when he died:

    13. Last week, the Ingenuity helicopter made history by becoming the first aircraft to ever fly on Mars. Here's a photo Ingenuity took of the Perseverance rover during its historic flight:

    the perseverance rover as seen from the ingenuity helicopter

    14. Michael Collins, who was a part of the historic Apollo 11 mission that put humans on the moon, died in May at the age of 90. Though Collins never got to step foot on the lunar surface, he played a pivotal role in the mission's success. In his memoirs he described what it felt like to be all alone in the Columbia as it orbited the moon. His isolation was intensified during the blackouts he'd experience when he'd pass over the far side and lose all contact with his crew and mission control, writing, “I am alone now, truly alone, and absolutely isolated from any known life”:

    15. This is how small a baby swordfish is:

    16. The steppe bison was an ancient bison species that's been extinct for many thousands of years now. There used to be so many of them that researchers are finding more and more of their bones every single year — oftentimes when they're hoping to find something a bit more exciting. Blue Babe is a mummified steppe bison that was found almost perfectly preserved. It was discovered with gashes in its back left by a lion, though no flesh was missing, which means it didn't become that lion's meal:

    17. Binturongs, also called bearcats despite the fact that they're neither a bear nor a cat, are a type of mammal that apparently smell like buttered popcorn all the time:

    18. The wreck seen in the movie Titanic was actually a lot smaller than it looked — and a lot more upside down:

    19. These metals have different densities, which is why 10 ounces of aluminum looks like so much more than 10 ounces of gold:

    20. Road signs are a lot bigger than you might think:

    21. This is the Burj Al Babas, a luxury housing development in Turkey that was started in 2014 and abandoned, unfinished, in 2018 after the country fell into a recession. Now it's a ghost town:

    22. This cuirass belonged to Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. It was discovered inside his fully intact tomb, which was discovered in 1977 at the royal necropolis of Vergina:

    23. This photograph of an iceberg — which some believe to be the iceberg that sank the _Titanic_— was taken on April 15, 1912, from the deck of the SS Prinz Adalbert. Though the Titanic sank in the early hours of that same day, no one on this liner was aware of the tragedy despite being only a few miles south of where the sinking occurred. Passengers on the _Prinz Adalbert _claim that this particular iceberg had a large strip of red paint on it, so one of them snapped a photo:

    24. A UK-based artist and musician named George Aquilla Hardy designed a photorealistic portrait of what George Washington might look like if he lived today, and it looks unbelievably real:

    What George Washington would look like if he lived today, modernly styled

    25. This is how big a harpy eagle's claw is:

    26. Ravens are extremely intelligent animals. In fact, they've managed to outperform human toddlers in certain experiments where their ability to solve complex puzzles and delay gratification was put to the test. Out in the wild, ravens have developed a special relationship with wolves that has helped these incredible animals survive in very harsh and unforgiving climates:

    27. Robert Hanssen was a special agent for the FBI and a counterintelligence operative who turned out to be a double agent for the Soviet Union and arguably the biggest traitor in US intelligence history. For over two decades, he supplied the Russians with classified information in exchange for cash and diamonds — and some of the classified material he shared resulted in the arrest and execution of sources and spies who were living in the Soviet Union. Because he worked in counterintelligence, he was always privy to information that might incriminate him, which allowed him to stay one step ahead of investigators until he was finally caught in 2001. Hanssen was sentenced to life in prison without parole, where he remains to this day.

    28. The flower pictured below is called a zinnia, and in early 2016 it became the first flower ever grown in space. This was an important milestone because on deep space expeditions (like to Mars, for example), the ability to garden will be essential for survival:

    29. Though the photos below are fake, they are a somewhat accurate illustration of what really happened on BA Flight 5390 from Birmingham, England, to Malaga, Spain. When the plane's windshield spontaneously blew out at 23,000 feet (7,000 meters), the abrupt change in air pressure also blew out the door to the cockpit. The captain was about to be sucked out of the plane when a heroic flight attendant jumped in and grabbed his waist. He held onto him for dear life until the co-pilot was able to land the plane safely:

    30. Unsinkable Sam, who was originally on a Nazi battleship but who ultimately defected to the Allies to accompany the Royal Navy, was a cat who used three of his nine lives during World War II on battleships that were sunk during combat. After the war, he settled in Northern Ireland to live out the rest of his life peacefully — as a cat should:

    31. Galileo Galilei, who was the first person to use a telescope to study the moon and who publicly endorsed the highly controversial Copernican theory that the Earth and other planets revolve around the Sun, died in 1642 while under house arrest for committing heresy in the eyes of the Catholic Church. In 1737, his body was exhumed and moved to Florence, Italy. During the transfer, "admirers" removed three of his fingers and a tooth and placed them in jars. In 1905, two of the fingers mysteriously went missing — and they stayed missing for a whole century, until they were brought to auction at the Museum of the History of Science in Florence, which would be renamed Museo Galileo, where they're now on display:

    If you're feeling brave and want to take a closer look at one of the fingers, click here.

    32. Ken Allen was an orangutan who lived his entire life in San Diego Zoo. Ken was a master of deception and a gifted escape artist from a very young age. When he was still living in the zoo's nursery, he would take apart his pen and wander around at night. Then, when morning came, he would put his pen back together to fool the zookeepers into thinking he'd never left. He managed to escape so many times that people started calling him Hairy Houdini:

    33. This is Freddie Oversteegen, a Dutch resistance fighter who took up arms against Nazi occupiers in the Netherlands during World War II. Freddie and her older sister would use dynamite to take out bridges and railways, smuggle Jewish children out of concentration camps, and meet Nazis in bars so that they could lure them out into the woods and shoot them. When asked how many she killed, she responded, "One should not ask a soldier any of that." Freddie died in 2018 at the age of 92:

    34. This is the Mauna Kea silversword, and it can only be found around Hawaii's Mauna Kea volcano. One of the reasons this plant is so unique is that it can live up to 30 years without ever blooming. When it finally does bloom, it lasts for only a short period and then the plant dies. The Mauna Kea silversword population has been ravaged by foraging animals, but efforts are underway to bring this remarkable plant back from the brink of extinction:

    35. Cassowaries are one of the few birds who have been *definitively documented* as having killed humans. These highly territorial flightless birds are very large (the second heaviest bird on the planet) and very fast (they can reach speeds of 31 miles per hour, or 50 kilometers per hour). Their go-to attack is a powerful kick with their razor-sharp claws, and their ability to jump high into the air ensures that kick will land in the deadliest possible spot:

    A cassowary, which looks more like a dinosaur than most birds

    36. The Dyatlov Pass incident, in which nine experienced hikers were seemingly mauled to death, occurred on a snowy mountain called Kholat Syakhl. When their campsite was finally located, it was found in startling disarray. The tent, partially buried, had been cut open with a knife. The bodies, which were scattered about, had been brutalized; these hikers had died _very _violent deaths. But how? Though unsolved for over 50 years — spawning countless conspiracy theories including a yeti attack — science has finally gotten to the bottom of what actually (probably) happened. Recent research suggests that a small but powerful avalanche was most likely the culprit:

    37. Just how brilliant was Nikola Tesla? Unlike his contemporaries — and perhaps every notable inventor _ever_— Tesla claimed to never write his ideas down. Instead he would just think hard about a problem he wanted to solve, and his designs would eventually appear in his mind, fully formed. His groundbreaking alternating current motor, an invention so ahead of its time that it was used to power the world's first hydroelectric power plant (and is still used worldwide to this day), once existed only inside his head. The motors, he claimed, "were exactly as I imagined them. I made no attempt to improve the design, but merely reproduced the pictures as they appeared to my vision, and the operation was always as I expected.” One thing Nikola Tesla wasn't good at was business, and in 1943 he died a poor man inside the New York City hotel room he'd been living in:

    38. There's a species of parasite called Ribeiroia ondatrae, which can latch onto — and burrow itself inside of — tadpoles, and then cause additional limbs to grow as that tadpole develops into a frog. The evolutionary purpose of this terrifying phenomenon is that these many-legged frogs become easy prey for other animals, namely birds, making it much easier for this parasite to transfer hosts:

    39. Nickelodeon buried a time capsule in 1992, and it won't be opened for another 21 years:

    40. Lantern of Chagrin is an assisted living facility for seniors located in Ohio that was made to resemble an old town. This aesthetic provides patients with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia a sense of stability, familiarity, and a degree of comfort:

    41. In Isernia, Italy, a marble head of Caesar Augustus — once part of a larger statue — was recently discovered by archaeologists. Augustus was the first Roman Emperor and the adopted son of Julius Caesar:

    42. When a new Las Vegas (not LA) homeowner was digging up his yard to install an in-ground pool, he found a fossilized horse skeleton that could be up to 14,000 years old. The careful excavation of this incredible discovery is ongoing, and Mr. Perkins' swimming pool is on hold for at least a few weeks (but he's thrilled about the horse):

    43. World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma plays on a cello that's almost 300 years old. It was made in 1733 by Domenico Montagnana, who was regarded as one of the world's best designers of cellos and violins (but especially cellos) in his lifetime. Ma nicknamed the instrument "Petunia." It was valued at around $2.5 million more than a decade ago and may be worth far more today. Once, in 1999, Ma accidentally left the cello in a cab, but he eventually managed to track it down after what must have been a very stressful, nerve-racking search:

    Yo-Yo Ma with his cello

    44. This is Timothy Evans. In 1949, Beryl Evans, Timothy's wife, and their 1-year-old daughter Geraldine were found murdered. Timothy was the primary suspect, and in 1950 he was found guilty of the crime and hanged...

    Timothy Evans looks caught off guard and bewildered as he's arrested for murder

    ...and this is John Christie, the Evans' neighbor. Christie was a chief witness for the prosecution in the trial, and his testimony led to the conviction and execution of Timothy Evans. It wasn't until three years after Evans' death that it was discovered that John Christie was actually a serial killer, and among his eight known victims were Beryl and Geraldine Evans. This tragic case would become a major factor in Great Britain's decision to abolish the death penalty. In the US, the death penalty is still used in 27 states, and a 2014 study concluded that 1 in 25 people on death row is innocent.

    John Christie standing for a photo

    45. These are believed to be the oldest surviving pair of pants in existence — well, _tied _for the oldest with another pair that was found alongside them. They were discovered in western China on the mummies of two shamans:

    46. There's a town in Southern California that elected a dog as its mayor. His name is Maximus Mighty-Dog Mueller II:

    47. Nathan Reeves and his wife, Suzie Quintal, spent this past Christmas on Norfolk Island in Australia when, in an unlucky turn of events, Nathan lost his wedding ring while going for a swim. They reported the ring lost on some local Facebook pages, but there was little else they could do. Five months later, the ring actually turned up in the unlikeliest of places. A snorkeler and writer named Susan Prior spotted — and managed to photograph — a hapless mullet fish with Nathan's ring wrapped around its body:

    A small fish with a gold wedding band wrapped around its body

    48. Susan spotted the fish with the gold ring in May, but in February she spotted other mullet fish wearing plastic rings (the ones that accompany twist-off caps on plastic bottles) like the one pictured below. In her blog she explains, "Mullet snuffle through the sand looking for food, making it so easy for a ring or hair tie to flip over their noses and get stuck." She hopes that this unlucky fish will inspire people to take greater care not to litter and to be more cautious with their belongings — oh, and regarding those pesky plastic rings, she recommends cutting them! It could save a mullet's life.

    A small fish with a plastic ring wrapped around its body

    49. This recent photo of Mars sent from the Perseverance rover is breathtaking, incredible, and even a little bit terrifying. The hill in the distance is called "Santa Cruz":

    A photo of a rocky, martian landscape that looks eerily similar to a desert here on Earth

    50. Polaris, aka the North Star, isn't actually the brightest observable star in our night sky. In fact, it just barely cracks the top 50. It is, however, *4,000 times* brighter than our Sun, which just goes to show how insignificantly tiny our solar system is in the whole scope of the universe. Polaris is approximately 434 light-years from Earth, which means the light we're seeing when we look at it was generated around the same time that Shakespeare was writing his earliest known play, The Taming of the Shrew. For comparison, it only takes 8.3 minutes for the light that our Sun generates to reach Earth.

    A night sky speckled with stars, with polaris in the dead center shining brightest

    51. Yasuke was the first foreign-born samurai in the history of Japan who fought side-by-side with Oda Nobunaga, one of feudal Japan's most feared and ruthless warlords. Very little is known about Yasuke's origins — though it's become part of his mythology that he arrived in Kyoto a slave, some historians have come to doubt that fact. What is known is that he was likely born somewhere in Africa, spoke fluent Japanese, was an extremely capable warrior, and was very, very tall — he was said to be 6'2'', _much _taller than the average man at that time. Despite only appearing in a three-year span of recorded history, from 1579 to 1582, Yasuke has captured people's imaginations and has gone on to become an almost mythic figure:

    52. The HMS _Terror _was part of a doomed expedition — ominously known as "Franklin's lost expedition" — to the Arctic in search of the Northwest Passage over 170 years ago. Both of the expedition's ships (the _Terror _and the HMS Erebus), along with the entire 129-member crew, vanished. It wasn't until recently that the ships were rediscovered, and in 2019 the wreckage of the Terror was explored and found to be in"pristine" condition. They even found plates and bottles arranged on shelves. The ship is so well preserved, in fact, that researchers hope to find documents that might shed light on _exactly _what happened almost two centuries ago in the most inhospitable place on Earth:

    53. Tanitoluwa Adewumi started playing chess only three years ago while he was living in a homeless shelter in Manhattan. He and his family had just escaped religious persecution in Nigeria and arrived in the United States as refugees. Now, at the age of 10, he just earned the title of Chess Master* — less than 1% of rated players ever earn the title of Master. His next goal? To become the youngest Grandmaster ever, which he'll need to accomplish before he's 12 years and 7 months old if he's to best the current record holder:

    Tanitoluwa Adewumi posing for photos

    54. This is Lyuba, and she's one of the best preserved woolly mammoths ever discovered. Amazingly, researchers managed to determine the cause of death (and it's kind of heartbreaking). Over 40,000 years ago, Lyuba — only a month old — fell in some water, inhaled mud, and choked to death, as evidenced by the mud that was found in her trachea:

    55. Just in case you're wondering, a Lego brick can withstand a weight of 950 pounds (432 kilograms), which means you could stack 375,000 Lego bricks before the bottom brick would break. That Lego tower would be over two miles (3.5 kilometers) high.

    Stacks of lego blocks

    56. These are giant groundsels — specifically, Dendrosenecio kilimanjari — and they're a prehistoric plant that can only be found on Africa's highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro:

    57. The HMAS Armidale was a Royal Australian Navy warship that battled in the Pacific theater during World War II. In November of 1942, after surviving a series of close calls, the _Armidale _was finally sunk by Japanese fighter planes. Of all the corvettes (the Armidale's warship class) lost during the second World War, the _Armidale _suffered the greatest loss of life with 100 total casualties. The photo below, which depicts a group of men clinging to a raft after surviving the initial attack, is the last time they were ever seen alive or dead:

    58. Despite being 2.5 million light-years away, the Andromeda galaxy would still appear to be six times larger than the moon in our night sky if it were bright enough:

    59. Researchers recently discovered a giant species of saber-toothed cat that likely lived between 5 and 9 million years ago. They're now believed to be one of the biggest cats to ever roam the Earth — so big, in fact, that they may have hunted rhinos.

    A sabre-toothed cat skull with massive fangs

    60. High up in the Italian Alps, ice is beginning to melt as a result of global warming, uncovering all sorts of remnants and relics from the first World War. They're finding weapons, gear, diaries, and postcards, and even the bodies of soldiers. More soldiers are believed to have died from the unforgiving mountain environment — from falls, freezing to death, sickness, and avalanches — than from actual combat:

    61. While animals with mutations and birth defects are a relatively common sight, what makes this three-eyed calf so unique is how normally developed the extra eye appears to be. The veterinarian who made the discovery, Malan Hughes, told the Daily Post, "From the outside the extra eye looks fine. It has eyelids and eyelashes, and it is moist too, as if some kind of lubricant is being secreted" — though it's unknown if the eye is functional:

    62. Add pyrosomes to the list of bizarre, difficult-to-define things you can find in the ocean. These sometimes enormous masses are not individual animals; they're many thousands of animals — called zooids — that join together to create super-organisms, or colonies, known as pyrosomes. They move around the ocean as one and occasionally break off and create smaller colonies that eventually grow large themselves:

    63. This is no ordinary flooded mine. This is an opal mine, and it's become a popular attraction in the heart of Slovakia, as the gemstones that were once harvested there are still in abundance:

    64. Despite being a carnivorous plant, Venus flytraps are surprisingly good at not turning their pollinators into meals. According to a study from a few years ago, researchers found that only 32% of the unlucky insects found in the traps had pollen on them, and that the top 10 most common Venus flytrap pollinators were never consumed by the plant at all. Part of the reason for this? They have very tall flowers:

    65. This is the hairy frog, also known as the horror frog and the wolverine frog, but that's not really hair. Those are strands of skin that it grows during mating season — and that's not even the most unsettling thing about these little guys. No, what sets the hairy frog apart is its ability to break bones in the tips of its own toes, which pierces through the skin, giving it sharp claws with which to defend itself:

    66. The notorious serial killer Ed Kemper is known to have murdered and mutilated at least 10 people — his grandparents, his mother, his mother's best friend, and six young women who attended college in Santa Cruz, California. Two things that set Kemper apart from other serial killers are his size (he's 6 feet 9 inches, or 205.7 centimeters) and his intellect (he allegedly has an IQ of 145). The latter allowed him to be extremely cunning and manipulative. He even befriended a group of police officers at a local bar during his killing spree — they'd affectionally refer to him as "big Ed" — and when Kemper finally decided to turn himself in for the murders, they thought he was joking.

    Ed Kemper being escorted through a police station

    67. The wreck of the Titanic is rapidly disappearing, and researchers believe that in about 20 to 30 years, it'll be gone entirely. The culprit? In 2010, a closer analysis of some earlier-collected samples turned up a brand-new species of rust-eating bacteria, aptly named Halomonas titanicae, and it's making a feast of the iconic ship. In 2019, the wreckage was visited for the first time in 14 years, and lo and behold, many portions of the ship that were once intact — like the officers' quarters — had collapsed entirely.

    The wreck of the Titanic sitting on the ocean floor

    68. On March 18, 1937, a natural gas leak in the basement of the Consolidated School in New London, Texas, ignited an explosion so large that it was felt as far as 35 miles away. The school was completely leveled, and the blast killed almost 300 students and faculty — for context, New London only had a population of 1,200 people at the time. This catastrophe was so great that world leaders from all over wired their condolences to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Even Adolf Hitler passed on "the German people’s sincere sympathy."

    The site of a massive explosion surrounded by people

    69. And this is William Estel Benson. He was a Consolidated School student at the time, and 24 years after the tragedy, he confessed to unscrewing the gas pipes underneath the school because, according to him, the principal busted him for smoking and he wanted to run up their gas bill. He allegedly knew details about the pipes that were never released to the public. He also admitted to living with guilt for all those years, in part because his sister died in the explosion. Not long after he made these claims, Benson hired a lawyer and then recanted his confession, saying, “I just wanted to play the big shot.” Eventually the case was closed, and he was never tried for sabotaging the pipes.

    William Bensen sitting at a table

    70. A recent study found that couples who sleep in the same bed are more well rested than people who sleep alone. The study looked at both married couples who co-sleep and unmarried people who don't, and concluded that the married couples experience much longer REM sleep than the unmarried people. Potential reasons for this? Shared body heat creates a consistent and reliable source of warmth. It could also have to do with the comfort and security that comes with having a loved one so close.

    A couple sleeping in bed

    71. Muntazer al-Zaidi is an Iraqi journalist who made headlines in 2008 when he threw his shoes at then–US president George W. Bush. Less than a year later, in the Iraqi city of Tikrit, a monument was erected to honor al-Zaidi, and fittingly, it's a big shoe.

    A large bronze shoe with a plant growing out of it

    72. You have a 1 in 100 million chance of ever finding an albino lobster, making it far and away the rarest lobster in existence — much rarer than blue lobsters (1 in 2 million), yellow lobsters (1 in 30 million), and even split-colored lobsters (1 in 50 million). Despite these long odds, not one, but two albino lobsters were caught in a single week off the coast of Maine in 2014. One was sent to the Maine State Aquarium, and the other to a marine supply store with a large tank that displays local wildlife.

    Two albino lobsters sitting on a pile of regular lobsters

    73. Roughly 15 million years ago, an asteroid struck in what is now Southern Germany, leaving behind a massive, 9-mile-wide crater. The impact also left behind plenty of suevite, which is a rock embedded with tiny fragments of crystals, glass, and even diamond. That same rock was used to build Nördlingen, the town that now sits in that crater, which means all of the original architecture in Nördlingen contains "millions of microscopic diamonds."

    An aerial view of Nördlingen

    74. This is the giant golden-crowned flying fox, and it's one of the biggest bat species in existence. Only found in the Philippines, these large fruits bats are extremely rare — and they're only getting rarer as a result of deforestation and poaching. They're currently listed as critically endangered on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species.

    A giant golden-crowned flying fox hanging upside down

    75. For much of World War II, no one really knew what the Nazis were up to in the small Polish town of Oświęcim — known to the Germans as Auschwitz. Witold Pilecki, a Polish army captain and a freedom fighter for the Polish resistance, was determined to find out. In September 1940, Pilecki allowed himself to be captured in Warsaw, arriving at Auschwitz not long after. He spent the next three years there collecting intel and sending messages to his superiors via prisoners he helped escape — all while doing hard labor on starvation rations. Thanks to Pilecki's efforts, the Allied forces learned early on what was truly taking place within the death camp's walls (though they sadly — and controversially — never took steps to hinder its supply lines). Then, in 1943, as willingly as he entered the camp, Pilecki left, escaping during the night with a group of inmates.

    Witold Pilecki in uniform

    76. This is the wreck of the HMHS Britannic, which, along with the Olympic, was a sister ship of the Titanic. When World War I broke out, the Britannic was converted into a hospital ship. At full capacity, it could transport over 3,000 wounded soldiers. In 1916, a great and sudden explosion occurred at the bow of the ship — to this day, it's debated whether it was caused by a mine or a torpedo, but the consensus seems to be that it was a mine. The majority of the ship's passengers and crew survived, but one particularly grisly detail is that two lifeboats filled with passengers launched prematurely and without permission, and they were subsequently sucked into the spinning propellers and broken to bits.

    The propeller of the Britannic as seen from a submarine

    77. Erratic weather brought on by climate change is destroying 40,000-year-old cave art in Indonesia, the oldest such art ever discovered. It contains hand stencils (pictured below), animals, and a hunting scene that researchers believe is the first narrative ever recorded by humans.

    Over 39,900-year-old handprints on the wall of a cave

    78. Bessie Coleman was the first Black woman, and the first Native American woman, in the United States to earn a pilot's license — but she didn't earn it in the United States. Racism and sexism were barriers that were preventing her from achieving her dreams, so she taught herself French and, in fall 1920, headed to France to pursue the opportunities that she was denied in her own country. In late spring of the following year, she earned an international pilot's license, which meant that she was licensed to fly anywhere in the world, including the United States.

    Bessie Coleman posing for a photo

    79. In 2012, the long-lost remains of Richard III were found underneath a parking lot in Leicester, England. Over 500 years earlier, he became the last king of England to die in battle and was subsequently buried in an unmarked grave. Shakespeare was unforgiving in his depictions of Richard III, inaccurately describing him as "hunchbacked" and having "a limp and a withered arm," and portraying him as a ruthless, murderous villain. While he did have a somewhat severe case of scoliosis, which made his shoulders uneven, there's no historical evidence to support these depictions, and Shakespeare was likely trying to flatter Elizabeth I, whose family supplanted Richard III's family in the English monarchy.

    A researcher pointing to the damaged skull of Richard III

    80. This strange little meteorite that was found on Mars is roughly the size of a golf ball. In the past, when a discovery like this was made, scientists back on Earth would be left to guess what the rock was made of. What makes this particular rock special — which they're now calling "egg rock" — is that it's the first rock on Mars to be studied using a laser-firing spectrometer, thanks to the Curiosity rover's ChemCam. This incredible tool determined that egg rock is made of...*drum roll, please*...iron, nickel, and phosphorus. Scientists claim that it may have been sitting on Mars for millions of years.

    A weird rock that really stands out on the Martian ground

    81. May 18 was the 41st anniversary of the Mount St. Helens eruption in which 57 people died and 135 square miles of forest were completely flattened. Here's what it looked like in 1958, 22 years before it erupted, versus what it looks like today.

    82. A photographer named Robert Landsburg was 7 miles away from Mount St. Helens when it blew. As a towering wall of ash sped toward him, he knew there was no way of escaping alive. In his final moments, he snapped a few more shots (pictured below), rewound the film, and lay on top of the camera to protect it. Landsburg, along with the footage he sacrificed his body to save, wouldn't be found for 17 days.

    A collage of the four photos Landsburg took, which depicts a wall of ash rapidly approaching

    83. And here's an aerial shot of the eruption and its 15-mile-high plume. Scientists believe Mount St. Helens is still a threat, and in 2005 it was deemed the second-most-dangerous volcano in the United States behind the Kīlauea volcano in Hawaii.

    Mount St. Helens erupting

    84. This piece of amber contains a 99-million-year-old dinosaur tail so perfectly preserved that its soft tissue and bones are still intact, and it's coated in feathers. Though existing fossil records have already pointed to the existence of feathered dinosaurs, this tail is the most concrete evidence ever discovered.

    A piece of amber with a dinosaur tail inside

    85. Scientists in Costa Rica have devised a plan — planting fake eggs loaded with GPS trackers — to combat the illegal trade of sea turtle eggs and protect the seven endangered sea turtle species that nest in Central America. The hope is that these fake eggs will make their way onto the black market and expose the whole supply chain.

    A sea turtle's nest filled with eggs

    86. This is the glass frog. These little guys are most notable for their translucent underbellies, which allow you to see most of their skeleton and vital organs.

    The underside of a glass frog — its organs are visible

    87. This man was the inspiration for Norman Bates from Psycho, Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs, and Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre — to name only a few — and arguably an entire sub-genre of grotesque horror films that these iconic characters would come to represent. His name was Ed Gein, aka the Butcher of Plainfield — aka the Plainfield Ghoul. Gein would only confess to (and be convicted of) two murders, though he's believed to be responsible for a handful of others. While two murders might not seem like a whole lot in the wider context of American true crime, it's what investigators found on his property and inside his house that established Gein's legacy as being one of the most depraved and nightmarish figures in American criminal history...

    Ed Gein with a creepy smile on his face as he's being escorted by police in handcuffs

    WARNING: 88 contains graphic descriptions of what was found inside Ed Gein's house. Proceed with caution or skip over it altogether.

    88. Gein lived like a hoarder — the photo on the left shows what his kitchen looked like as investigators were searching the property. They discovered chairs upholstered with human skin, an unfinished suit made of human skin, masks made of human faces, and various household objects fashioned from bone, much of which he stole from a local cemetery (and this is only a small preview of what was found). There was also an entire section of his house that he never visited: The rooms that were once occupied by his mother before she died 12 years earlier (right photo). The doors to these rooms were allegedly nailed shut, and when investigators pried their way in, they found mostly furniture and dust.

    89. In 1859, the Sun let loose a solar flare so large that it created a geomagnetic storm here on Earth called "the Carrington Event." This storm produced auroras in the sky (much like the Northern Lights but *way* farther south) so bright that you could allegedly read at night by that light alone. It also caused telegraph machines to break and, in some cases, shoot sparks and cause fires. It happened again in 1921, and if a similar storm hit us today — and scientists claim one certainly will, it's only a matter of when — it could cause catastrophic blackouts across the planet, destroy satellites, and generally disrupt our tech-reliant society in very significant ways.

    A massive solar flare coming off the sun and the size of the earth (tiny) for scale

    90. No recordings of Abraham Lincoln's voice exist, but we do have some descriptions left behind from his contemporaries and it's probably not at all what you'd expect. One journalist said it was "a thin tenor, or rather falsetto, voice, almost as high-pitched as a boatswain’s whistle." Another noted its "frequent tendency to dwindle into a shrill and unpleasant sound.” His accent contained a bit of Indiana and a bit of Kentucky. Historian Harold Holzer told Smithsonian Magazine that, great orator though he was, "for the first ten minutes" his audiences "couldn’t believe [...] the way he sounded, his accent."

    Abraham Lincoln posing for a portrait

    91. There's an extremely powerful force in the universe that's pulling us — along with the entire Milky Way Galaxy and many surrounding galaxies — toward it, and we have no idea what it is. It's simply called "The Great Attractor," and scientists can only describe it as a "gravitational anomaly." It exists somewhere beyond the stars and constellations pictured below, which prevent us from so much as catching a glimpsing of... whatever (or wherever) the Great Attractor truly is.

    Stars, galaxies, and more captured by the hubble telescope

    92. In 1959, in the small town of Lake City, South Carolina, nine-year-old Ronald McNair took a stand. He only wanted to borrow some books from the library, books on science and calculus that would foreshadow the great things he would go on to do with his life. But this was the Jim Crow South, and the librarian wouldn't allow it. Ronald, however, refused to leave empty-handed. The police were called to the scene — as was his mother, who promised to pay for the books if they weren't returned. Ronald McNair went on to become a brilliant physicist and astronaut, becoming the second Black man ever to travel to space. In 2011, the library where that determined nine-year-old boy took his stand was reopened as the Dr. Ronald E. McNair Life History Center.

    Ronald McNair posing for a photo in his NASA jumpsuit

    93. And this is Peggy Whitson, who, over the course of three separate missions, has accumulated a total of 665 days in space — more than any other NASA astronaut. She has spent so much time in space, in fact, that she had to retire after hitting NASA's limit for radiation exposure. But that's not stopping her from going back as a private citizen. Alongside GT race-car driver John Shoffner, she'll be piloting Axiom Space's Ax-2 mission to the International Space Station for an eight-day stay.

    Peggy Whitson holding a microphone in her NASA jumpsuit

    94. Though various cobra species are now protected by law in India, that wasn't always the case. Under British Colonial rule, the government attempted to eradicate these venomous snakes in Delhi by offering a reward for cobra skins. The result? People began breeding cobras just to collect the reward, and when the government discovered this they ended the program. When cobra skins suddenly lost their value, all those bred cobras were set free, which actually caused the population to spike. This phenomenon became known as the Cobra Effect, aka perverse incentive, and it refers to an initiative that's intended to solve a problem but that actually makes that problem exponentially worse.

    A cobra in a defensive pose

    95. There are dozens of stories out there about legendary wrestler André René Roussimoff, better known by his stage name André the Giant. He was, after all, a larger-than-life figure in every sense, standing at 7 feet 4 inches tall (223.5 cm) and weighing 500 pounds (226.8 kg). One aspect of the man that really stood out to those who knew him was his drinking ability. Hulk Hogan claimed he saw André drink 108 beers in just 45 minutes, which some claim is an unofficial world record; Gerald Brisco said André would drink six bottles of wine before a match and "no one could tell."

    Andre the Giant in the ring at wrestlemania

    96. When Pompeii was buried under volcanic ash after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D., an otherwise typical day in the ancient Roman city was frozen in time — the most unexpected remnants of everyday life were eerily preserved for future generations to study. Take, for example, this 2,000-year-old loaf of bread that was found inside the oven of an excavated bakery:

    A round loaf of bread that looks to have been turned to stone

    97. Mosquitos actually prefer some people's blood over others. According to one study, they were twice as likely to land on people who have Type O blood than Type A blood (Type B was in-between O and A in terms of popularity). Mosquitos also prefer to bite people who have been drinking alcohol, people who just finished exercising, and people who are pregnant — and these are only a few of the biological and circumstantial factors that make you more appetizing to these incredibly annoying insects.

    A closeup of a mosquito filled with blood

    98. The last words Albert Einstein ever spoke will never be known. According to his New York Times obituary, published on April 19, 1955, the only person present at the time of his death was a nurse who reported that "he mumbled in his sleep several words in German," which she didn't speak.

    Albert Einstein posing for a photo

    99. This is the bearded vulture, and they're the only animals in existence whose diet consists mostly of bones — and not just bone marrow; they eat the whole thing. What they'll do is take a bone and fly it really high up into the air and drop it (sometimes repeatedly), until it breaks into small enough pieces for them to eat. Their very strong stomach acid does the rest of the work.

    A bearded vulture up close

    100. In 2008, in a small town in western Japan called Kasuya, a man started to suspect that the food in his refrigerator was disappearing. He was so certain that this was happening — and so determined to find out why — that he installed cameras in his kitchen that he could monitor using his cellphone. Sure enough, after he left the house one day, the cameras spotted a woman rummaging through his fridge. He immediately called the police, and when they searched the house they found the woman curled up in one of the closets, where she'd been living, completely undetected, for *an entire year*.

    A closet in the dark with light shining through a crack

    101. In pretty much every city in the world, digging new subway tunnels for the metro is a difficult, time-consuming task. But perhaps nowhere is it more difficult than in Rome, Italy, where constant archeological discoveries set these projects back *literal decades*. Planning for Rome's Metro C line started in the mid-'90s, but construction didn't officially begin until 2007 — it's still not finished. As of 2018, this project has turned up over 40,000 artifacts. There are so many artifacts sitting beneath Rome just waiting to be discovered that some building owners have even started digging out their own basements to see what they can find.

    Artifacts on display in one of the finished C line stations

    102. In December of 1799, 67-year-old George Washington got caught in a downpour of freezing rain and was soaked to the bone. The next day, he developed a fever and sore throat — serious symptoms at that time, especially for someone of his age. Doctors were eager to save the former President, and they turned to a treatment that's not very widely used today: bloodletting. Over the course of the next 24 hours, George Washington's doctors bled him — they bled him a lot. They reportedly drained about 80 ounces of his blood, an estimated 40% of his blood volume, and he died the following day.

    A painting of George Washington on his deathbed

    103. Conservationists believed there were only three giant river otters left in Argentina — all three of which live in captivity. In the Argentinian wild they were thought to be completely extinct; giant river otters, which are listed as endangered on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species, haven't been seen in Argentina since the 1980s, and they haven't been spotted in or around the Bermejo River in almost 100 years. So you can imagine his surprise when conservationist Sebastián Di Martino, who's hoping to reintroduce giant river otters back into the region, spotted one swimming in none other than the Bermejo River.

    A giant river otter eating a fish

    104. And the Galápagos tortoise wasn't just thought to be extinct in the wild or in a single nation; this species was thought to be lost forever. Lonesome George, who was the last Galápagos tortoise in captivity, died in 2012 at the age of 152, and they haven't been sighted in the wild since 1906 — until now. In 2019, a female tortoise was discovered on Fernandina Island and genetic testing has finally confirmed that she is indeed a member of the species Chelonoidis phantasticus. Researchers estimate that she's over 100 years old.

    A Galápagos tortoise

    105. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer and went to The Johns Hopkins Hospital for treatment. While she was there, cells were taken from her cervix — without her permission — and brought to a lab for study, and what they found astonished researchers. Instead of dying, like past samples collected from other patients, Henrietta's cells not only survived, they multiplied. She died at the young age of 31 later that year, but her cells (which are called HeLa cells, named for her) would revolutionize cancer treatments and the entire field of immunology. They're still used for research today. In fact, they were even used in the development of the COVID-19 vaccines.

    A small framed photo of Henrietta Lacks sitting on her family's mantle

    106. Don't worry! Some random accident didn't knock these cacti over; this is all part of their natural lifecycle. They're called creeping devils, and though they grow vertically when they're young, eventually they get too heavy for their base and fall over. The base will eventually die, but the tips will continue to grow, creeping across the desert just as their name suggests.

    Creeping devil in the arizona desert

    And last but most certainly not least (unless you mean in terms of size), a frog fact:

    107. This tiny frog (sitting a US dime for scale) is called a paedophryne amauensis, and it's not only the smallest frog in the world, it's also the smallest vertebrate:

    A very small frog sitting on a dime