19 Incredible Things I Literally Just Learned That I Almost Didn't Believe

    Personally, I think the marine iguanas are very handsome.

    1. In southeastern France, there's a basilica that has on display what is believed to be the skull of Mary Magdalene, who was one of Jesus' followers and an alleged witness of his execution:

    2. This beautiful golden mouse looks fake, but it isn't. It was bred to look this way:

    3. Here's what it looks like when the ISS passes between Earth and the Moon:

    4. This is a black-browed babbler. The only known record of this species existing was a single specimen collected in 1850. Understandably, experts believed this bird to be long extinct — that is, until a live one was caught and photographed (and then set free) last October:

    5. Richard Norris Williams was a Titanic survivor who went on to become a Wimbledon champion and an Olympic Gold Medalist — all thanks to his adamant refusal to allow his legs to be amputated while aboard the Carpathia after being rescued from the frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean in 1912:

    6. Minnesota was the 12th state to legalize gay marriage back in 2013, but 40 years earlier it was home to what is believed to be the first same sex marriage ever performed in the United States thanks to a clever loophole:

    7. In last week's edition I told you about a black-footed ferret named Elizabeth Ann, the first endangered species ever cloned in the US. Well, the photo I used was from last December when she was just a baby. Here's what she looks like now:

    8. Airplane manufacturing plants were popular targets for airstrikes during WWII. To protect itself against such an attack, a Boeing plant in Seattle disguised itself as a neighborhood — no plane manufacturing going on here!

    9. Katherine Johnson, a barrier-breaking physicist and mathematician, was required to eat separately and use separate bathrooms than her white colleagues when she arrived at NASA in the early 1950s. She went on to calculate the trajectories that made the moon landing (and return trip) possible — just one of many of her important contributions to both science and history:

    Her amazing work was depicted in the 2017 film Hidden Figures.

    10. A chicken's diet can alter both the color and taste of their egg yolks. In fact, when fed red chile powder, their yolks will turn red. These free range chickens clearly had very different diets than the factory farmed ones (but color doesn't necessarily signify good or bad nutrition, nor quality of life):

    11. La Sagrada Familia, a basilica located in Barcelona, Spain, has been under construction since they broke ground in 1883 and has been surrounded by scaffolding and occasionally cranes for much of that time. But there's good news — the Tower of the Virgin Mary is reportedly on track to be finished by the end of this year, with 2026 the target date for completion for the whole basilica (which is significant because 2026 will mark 100 years since architect Antoni Gaudí’s death):

    12. Xiaozhai Tiankeng, also known as "Heavenly Pit," is the deepest known sinkhole on the planet. It also led to the discovery of a massive cave complex that's been called "world class" and a "geological wonder":

    13. Circus Roncalli in Germany has been gradually moving away from animal performances since the '90s, and they haven't featured a live animal since 2018. Instead, they're using modern technology to create a unique and 100% cruelty-free experience that leaves audiences captivated:

    14. This is what a Toucan skull looks like:

    15. The Perseverance Rover sports a decal that depicts every previous martian rover that came before it, which is reminiscent of that iconic human evolution chart:

    16. The Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland is over 700 years old and contains 245 kilometers (about 152 miles) of tunnel. Though walking tours are available and last about 3 hours, only 2% of the mine is open to the public:

    17. The original Star Wars trilogy was ahead of its time when it came to special effects. You might be surprised to learn that some shots were actually matte paintings done on sheets of glass:

    18. In 2012, Peter Glazebrook set the world record for the largest onion ever grown. Though that record was broken two years later, his 2012 onion is still a sight to behold:

    19. And last but not least: Also known as the saltwater iguana, the marine iguana can only be found in the Galápagos Islands and are famous for being good swimmers and looking terrifying. Charles Darwin was quite rude in his description, saying they're "hideous-looking":

    Want to see what I learned last week? Click here to find out.

    Correction: Whoops! In my excitement about learning that La Sagrada Familia is nearing completion I made a pretty significant error. The basilica is not on track to be finished this year; only part of it is. It's actually on track to be finished by 2026. Thank you to the kind commenter for pointing out this mistake and teaching me one more cool fact this week