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87 Things I Learned In March That Are So Incredible I Almost Didn't Believe Them

I can't even begin to imagine what I'll learn in April.

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

Some context: Ever since February I've been working on a weekly series, published on Saturday mornings, in which I highlight some interesting things I've learned during the past week. The feedback has been positive, and I'm excited to continue writing them.

A commenter saying "pretty cool"

Now that we're wrapping up one complete month of facts, I wanted to try putting everything I learned this month into one convenient place — à la what you're about to read — so I just wanted to offer a warning that none of it is new if you've been dedicatedly following along for each of these weeks (and if you have, I appreciate you):

The Week of Mar. 6

The Week of Mar. 13

The Week of Mar. 20

The Week of Mar. 27

So without further ado, here are 87 things I learned in March:

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. This is Elizabeth Ann, a black-footed ferret and the first-ever endangered species cloned in the US. The hope is that she'll provide some much needed genetic diversity to a species that was once believed to be extinct:

8. And here's what Elizabeth Ann looks like now:

9. 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!

10. 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:

11. 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):

12. 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):

13. Here's a bird's-eye view of Barcelona — with La Sagrada Familia there near the center:

14. 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":

15. 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:

16. This is what a Toucan skull looks like:

17. 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:

18. 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:

19. Some of the most memorable shots in the original Star Wars trilogy were actually matte paintings done on sheets of glass:

20. 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:

21. 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":

22. The Statue of Liberty, which was a gift to the United States from France and which symbolizes not only freedom but also friendship between the two nations, is made of copper. That means it was originally the color of a penny; but due to oxidation, it ended up turning bluish/green:

23. An island called Lough Key, also known as the Rock, was once home to the MacDermot clan, one of the most powerful families in medieval Ireland from the 12th century until the 17th century. The castle pictured below, however, wasn't theirs. It was built in the 19th century, and the MacDermot ruins are buried underneath it:

24. The Radisson Blu hotel in Berlin boasts the largest free-standing cylindrical aquarium in the world, which you can look directly into from your room's balcony (depending on your room), and that has an elevator in the center of it:

A massive aquarium that's multiple stories high in the middle of a hotel atrium

25. Beijing's Forbidden City is no less impressive from above than on the ground. Since its completion in 1420, 24 emperors have lived within its fortified walls — and moat. In 1925, it was converted into the Palace Museum:

26. The Edmund Fitzgerald set off on Lake Superior on Nov. 9, 1975. The following day it hit a storm that would sink the ship and kill all 29 crew members on board. Not a single body was recovered. In 1994, a mini submarine was used to explore the wreckage and a body was actually spotted on the floor of the lake underneath some debris:

27. This exquisite bracelet was discovered in King Tut's tomb. The scarab itself, which is incredibly detailed, is made of lapis lazuli:

28. Discovered in 2015, the Graff Lesedi la Rona (the name given to this massive diamond) was the second-largest gem-quality diamond ever discovered. I say "was" because in 2019 it was cut into the world's largest square emerald diamond:

29. This praying mantis looks remarkably good for being 12 million years old:

30. Shen Jie and Liu Xi were pursuing in vitro fertilization when they were tragically killed in a car accident in 2013. Their parents fought hard to continue the pregnancy through surrogacy and won. The child, a boy, was born in 2017:

31. This is Wisdom, a 70-year-old albatross who recently hatched another baby chick. She's believed to have hatched anywhere between 30–36 chicks in her life. A band was attached to her ankle by biologists in 1956 and she's still going strong:

32. There's a train station in Japan that can _only _be reached by train, and the only thing to do there is take in gorgeous views:

33. Geckos have a remarkable ability to scale walls and hang upside down, but did you know that they're able to turn their sticky feet "on" and "off"? In the words of one researcher, "a gecko by definition is not sticky — he has to do something to make himself sticky":

If you care to learn more about the biology behind a gecko's sticky feet, check out this article from Live Science.

34. Vasa was a state-of-the-art warship built by the Swedish Navy — the most sophisticated and expensive warship ever built in Europe at the time. In 1628, a mere 20 minutes after setting sail for the very first time, a gust of wind sank it:

35. During the winter months, these Austrian hiking trails are dry and walkable, but that changes as winter gives way to spring. As the snow melts on the Hochschwab Mountains, these winding trails become a "crystal clear" lake that's as deep as 40 feet in some areas:

36. SpaceX uses robotic dogs to inspect sites that might not be safe for humans to approach. In early March, when Starship serial No. 10 exploded, they used one to inspect the wreckage:

37. This gross and unsettling phenomenon, in which the eyes of some frogs and toads develop inside their mouths, is called a "macromutation" and can manifest in a variety of ways. Some reports suggest that macromutations can be caused by certain parasitic infections:

38. Several mammoth bone huts, which were discovered together in 1965, formed a sort of early human settlement. The now-extinct wooly mammoths were used not only for shelter and food but also for heat, as burned bones were discovered in hearths:

39. Ying Ying and Le Le have been trying (and failing) to mate for the last 10 years. Turns out all they needed was a bit of privacy:

40. Tasmanian tigers, also referred to as "thylacines," were a species of large marsupial predators. European settlers in Tasmania hunted them and gradually chipped away at their habitat until they were declared extinct in 1936. Pictured below is Benjamin, the last Tasmanian tiger believed to have existed and who died in captivity:

41. And aboriginal cave paintings tell us that Tasmanian tigers used to occupy large swaths of the Australian mainland and Papua New Guinea. Its former ubiquity makes its extinction all the more tragic:

42. This beautiful throne room was discovered by archaeologists in 1900. Note the fresco on the wall behind the throne, which depicts two griffins staring admiringly at the throne's intended occupant:

43. In the city of Holland, Michigan, the plows don't have quite as much mileage as those in some other northern cities:

44. In 1989, Lyle and Erik Menendez murdered their parents and were ultimately sentenced to life in prison. The case went on to be very widely publicized, and the pair holds dubious distinction in the annals of American crime. In the time between the murders and when they were arrested, the Menendez brothers attended a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden, and there's actually a Mark Jackson card in circulation on which you can spot them sitting courtside:

45. The last McDonald's in Iceland closed in 2009, so Hjortur Smarason bought the last meal they sold and put it on display. His reasoning? He told AFP, "I had heard that McDonald's never decompose so I just wanted to see if it was true or not." There's even a livestream of the burger and fries so the whole world can witness its immortality together:

46. This 2,000-year-old cosmetic cream was discovered at a Romano-Celtic temple complex in London in 2003:

47. At roughly 400 years old, this Greenland Shark has been dubbed the "longest-living vertebrate" on Earth. Since radiocarbon dating — the process used to determine the shark's age — is not exact, the youngest she's believed to be is about 275 years old, while the oldest she could be is over 500:

48. This is what the Earth might look like if it didn't have any water:

49. The Statue of David is really really big:

50. And hummingbird eggs are really really tiny:

51. Not only do bees sleep for 5–8 hours every day (and enjoy cuddling with one another in the process), but some studies suggest they even have dreams:

52. These Levi's jeans, the oldest pair known to exist, are approximately 142 years old and were called "waist overalls" at the time they were made. A slightly younger pair from 1893 sold for $130,000 in 2018:

53. The Harlem Hellfighters were an all-Black infantry regiment in World War I who fought in the trenches of the frontlines for_191 straight days_— more than any other American unit — in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, the deadliest military campaign in American history. Their heroics and sacrifices  were well-documented by both the American and foreign press, helping them to become one of the most famous, and feared, fighting units in the Great War:

54. And this is Sgt. Henry Johnson, whose bravery would make him not only the most famous Harlem Hellfighter, but also one of the best known American soldiers to fight in WWI. Johnson was one of the first Americans to ever be awarded the French Croix de Guerre avec Palme, France's most prestigious military honor. Sadly, he wouldn't receive his due recognition back home in his lifetime. He risked his life countless times for a country that embraced segregation and treated him like a second-class citizen, and would deny him the full military honors he had rightfully earned in his short career. In 1996, he was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, in 2002 the Distinguished Service Cross, and in 2015 he was awarded the Medal of Honor:

55. And Harry Patch was the last surviving WWI veteran from any nation until his death in 2009. The battle of Passchendaele in 1917, in which he fought, would haunt him for the rest of his life. So severe was his PTSD that he wasn't able to talk about his experiences until his 100th birthday:

56. These are the "Lovers of Valdaro." During a typical archeological excavation, still a very careful and painstaking process, the Lovers would've had to be separated. Doing so, however, would’ve destroyed the significance of the discovery, and great pains were taken to carefully move them as they were found — and they remain that way in the National Archaeological Museum of Mantua. It was later determined that they were no older than 20 years old at the time of their deaths:

57. Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and others curated "The Golden Record," which contains "115 analog-encoded photographs, greetings in 55 languages, a 12-minute montage of sounds on Earth, and 90 minutes of music." Two of these records were affixed to Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 and sent into deep space to drift for eternity — or until discovered by extraterrestrials:

58. This is Old Dragon Head, the easternmost end of the Great Wall of China:

59. Paul Baxter feared he had lung cancer when, suffering from a chest infection, his bronchoscopy turned up an oddly shaped mass — it turned out to be a tiny toy traffic cone he inhaled as a child:

60. Dagmar Turner was afraid that the brain surgery she needed to undergo would end her career as a violinist. So committed were her surgeons to ensuring this wouldn't happen, they carefully mapped her brain in advance of the surgery to determine which regions were most active while she plays the instrument, and they even had her play during the surgery itself:

61. According to a University of Granada study, meerkats were found to be the most murderous mammals out of the 1,024 species that were analyzed. Almost 20% of all meerkat deaths came at the hands of another meerkat:

62. At the age of 118, Kane Tanaka is the oldest confirmed person in the world:

63. The nicobar pigeon, which can be found on offshore islands scattered across the Indian and Pacific oceans, might completely change the way you look at pigeons:

64. These massive tunnels are believed to have been dug between 8,000 to 10,000 years ago by either a long extinct species of prehistoric ground sloth or giant armadillos:

65. The streets of Philadelphia used to be paved with wood. The last remaining of these streets is Camac Street, which, for obvious reasons, is closed to cars:

66. The 300 million yen robbery, in which a young man posing as a police officer stole a vehicle containing almost 300 million yen and which sparked the largest investigation in Japanese history, remains unsolved to this day:

67. This is how pineapples grow:

68. A new image of a supermassive black hole was released this week. Roughly 55 million light-years from Earth, this terrifying celestial object is "6.5 billion times the mass of our sun":

69. And the European Space Agency is designing autonomous robots to explore the Moon's caves, which could one day lead to subterranean colonization if these caves are found to adequately "provide shelter from radiation, micrometeorites, and extreme temperatures":

A deep pit crater on the moon's surface

70. This ship got stuck in the Suez Canal and is causing a major disruption in the global supply chain as container ships are now blocked from passing in either direction. Bloomberg estimates that this blockage is costing roughly $9.6 billion per day:

71. This image might help illustrate why moving this container ship, one of the biggest on the planet, is no simple task and could take weeks to accomplish:

Check out Istheshipstillstuck.com to see if the ship is still stuck!

72. Though it might look like regular house cat, the Chinese Mountain Cat is an incredibly rare species that can only be found in China. The very first photo ever taken of this animal was captured in 2007 and not very many have been spotted since:

73. The Indiana Bell Telephone Company once moved an entire eight-story building to free up a plot of land on which they wanted to build a newer, larger headquarters — all while employees inside the building worked as usual:

In 1930 the Indiana Bell building was rotated 90°. Over a month, the structure was moved 15 inch/hr, all while 600 employees still worked there. There was no interruption to gas, heat, electricity, water, sewage, or the telephone service they provided. No one inside felt it move.

Twitter: @splattne

74. No, this isn't a Pokémon; it's a Costasiella kuroshimae, also known as a leaf sheep slug. Though their diets mostly consist of algae, they're also able to convert sunlight into energy through photosynthesis:

75. Crocodiles in Ancient Egypt, like other animals associated with the gods, were frequently mummified and presented as sacrificial offerings. In fact, many animals — including "dogs, cats, baboons, horses, goats, and birds" — were bred specifically for this purpose:

76. This Judean date palm — affectionally named "Methuselah" — was grown from 2,000-year-old seeds, bringing this plant back from extinction:

77. Robert Wadlow was the tallest man ever recorded at 8′11″ (271.78 cm), a record he's held since his death at the age of 22 in 1940. He suffered from a condition known as pituitary gigantism, which causes the body to overproduce somatotropin, more commonly known as growth hormone. Here's a photo of Shaquille O'Neal standing next to a life-size replica of Wadlow:

78. Bald eagle nests are enormous:

79. The Son Doong cave, which is located in Vietnam and is the largest ever discovered, was found accidentally in 1990 by a local farmer looking to take shelter during a storm. After the initial discovery, he would lose track of the cave's location and it wouldn't be rediscovered for another 18 years:

80. This is the ancient Olive Tree of Vouves, and it's estimated to have been around since 1100 BC. To this day it still produces olives and its branches were used to weave wreathes worn by the medalists of the 2008 Beijing Olympics:

81. This is Otto Frank, who fought for Germany during the First World War and tried in vain to escape its cruelty during the Second. He would be the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust and it was his decision to publish his daughter Anne's diaries after the war. Otto died at the age of 91 in 1980:

82. This stunning architectural feat was San Francisco's second Cliff House (that's right: the second), which was completed in 1896 after the first one burned down. The second Cliff House (surprisingly) survived the Great Earthquake of 1906 with little damage, only to be destroyed by fire the following year:

83. And here's a photo of it going up in flames:

84. You can actually buy tsunami escape pods at certain retail stores in Japan. The Life Armor pod, which is pictured below, comes equipped with "GPS and solar panels, subfloor storage compartments, batteries, life jackets, a waterproof megaphone, and an emergency food supply," and can withstand 9.3 tons of pressure:

85. This is how much Hong Kong has changed in the last 53 years: