Facts That Sound Fake But Are Actually True
Plenty of incredible facts might sound fake but surprisingly they're not, and here are some really interesting facts that sound fake but are actually true.Knowledge
Since the dawn of the dial-up connection, we’ve been told not to believe everything we read on the internet. You’d be surprised to learn there are plenty of incredible facts that might sound like they were made to fool you but are actually true, and here are some real corkers!
Humpty Dumpty is Not an Egg
Most people know the nursery rhyme: an oversized egg in human clothing topples off a wall and smashes to bits. All the king's horses and all the king's men rush to try and piece his broken shell back together but to no avail.
Except, nowhere in the rhyme is Humpty Dumpty named as an anthropomorphised breakfast food. So where in the fever dream heck did that come from? It’s all thanks to the king of opioid-induced fantasies himself: Mr Lewis Carroll.
Carroll decided to incorporate the character into his 1872 novel ‘Through the Looking-Glass’ where he inexplicably represents Humpty Dumpty as a giant human-egg hybrid. But if he wasn’t originally an egg, then what was he?
According to war historians, Humpty was actually a massive cannon used in the English civil war during the 1648 Siege of Colchester. One of the attacking cannons managed to destroy the wall ‘Humpty Dumpty’ was positioned upon, causing the cannon to be destroyed. It’s no wonder the king's horses couldn’t put it back together again, they don’t even have hands!
Sharks are Older Than Trees
If you had any doubt about how ridiculously badass sharks are, get this: they literally predate trees. The earliest species we could even classify as a “tree” – the now-extinct ‘Archaeopteris’– lived around 350 million years ago where the Sahara Desert is now.
That might seem like an impossibly long time, but our sharp-toothed buddies have been kicking about Earth for 50 million years longer. The earliest shark teeth ever found date back some 400 million years ago and probably belonged to an ancient shark known as Leonodus which lived in Europe.
In their monumental lifetime, sharks have skirted 4 global mass extinctions and outlived many creatures humans never lived to see for themselves. The sad truth is that sharks don’t reproduce fast enough to keep up with humans' particular penchant for hunting and killing them for their fins. If we’re not careful, trees might end up beating them after all.
Carrots Used to be Purple
Picture this: bunnies nibbling on purple carrots, school meals served up with violet-hued veggies and parents desperately trying to convince kids that something without a luminous-orange colouring could help them see in the dark. It would be bedlam. Prior to the 17th century, there was no alternative to this strange reality.
The wild carrots which originated in Persia had a deep purple colouring thanks to an antioxidant pigment known as anthocyanin and were thinner and more bitter than today’s varieties. As these made their way to Europe, they were selectively bred to improve their flavour and appearance and yellow or white carrots became more commonplace.
Eventually, Dutch growers took mutant strains of the purple carrot and crossed them with these new varieties to develop the sweet, plump modern-day orange carrot. Some believe this was also done in a tribute to William of Orange, who led the Netherlands to independence.
To find out more, take a look at our article about foods that looked totally different before we started cultivating them.
Nightingales Sing Louder Than Chainsaws
If you’ve ever been rudely awoken by the morning chorus of birds outside your window, it might feel like someone has just started up a chainsaw in your bedroom. It turns out there’s good reason to resent your winged neighbors, especially if they happen to be nightingales.
German researcher Henrik Brumm (whose last name ironically sounds kinda like a chainsaw) looked into just how noisy nightingales can be in 2001-2002 and concluded that they are illegally loud.
When male nightingales sing to attract a mate, they compete with background urban noise like traffic or construction and can raise their volume by up to 14 decibels. Brumm recorded nightingale songs during mating season, and the loudest measured a whopping 95 decibels, which is about as loud as a chainsaw from a meter away.
For some perspective, European sound pollution regulations forbid exposing workers to more than 87 decibels without ear protection. Basically, nightingales could be locked up if they were humans purely because of how loud they are.
Cleopatra Lived Closer to the iPhone than the Building of the Pyramids
If I asked you whether Cleopatra was more likely to be present at the building of the great pyramids of Giza or lining up for the release of the first iPhone, what would you say? Believe it or not, Cleo came closer to taking her first selfie than overseeing the construction of the landmarks she is so closely associated with.
The largest Great Pyramid of Giza was likely constructed between 2580 BC and 2560 BC during the first phase of the Egyptian Empire, but Cleopatra wasn’t born until 69 BC, around 2500 years later.
Cleopatra was the last active pharaoh of Egypt and famously used a venomous snake to end her own life at the age of 39 in 30 BC, meaning she lived closer to the modern day than Egypt’s founding period. Meanwhile, Apple co-founder and then-CEO Steve Jobs debuted the first-generation iPhone in 2007, only 2037 years after Cleopatra’s death.
France Was Still Executing People by Guillotine When Star Wars Came Out
If that last fact wasn’t enough to prove how warped your perception of time is, this one will do it. On September 10th, 1977, Hamida Djandoubi smoked a few cigarettes before stepping up to be executed by France’s most infamous punishment, the Guillotine.
This was the ultimate price to pay for Djandoubi’s crime of taking his lover's life and was to be the last execution by this method in the country’s history.
It wasn’t the only historic occasion to occur that month in 1977, though, because the very next day across the country at the Deauville Film Festival, a little movie by the name of ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope’ made its debut.
Turns out the Guillotine wasn’t always so associated with powdered wigs and revolution. In another macabre connection, a 17-year-old boy named Christopher Lee, who attended France’s final public execution in 1939, went on to play Count Dooku in the Star Wars series.
Goats Have Accents
Most of us have wondered what it would be like to communicate with animals. A Dr. Doolittle reality might still be a way off, but we’re one step closer to understanding the humble goat thanks to a ground-breaking discovery: they have accents.
Those adorable little bleats are actually spoken in distinctly different dialects, according to a team of researchers from London’s Queen Mary University. It’s not uncommon for humans to pick up new accents after changing social groups or moving away from home, so why shouldn’t goats do the same?
According to Dr. Elodie Briefer, that’s exactly what happens. The team studied a group of pygmy goats in 2012 at one week old and 5 weeks old and found that they adapted their ways of communicating as they grew older and moved in different groups, making them one of the only other mammals to do so.
Armadillos Always Give Birth to Identical Quadruplets
As if suddenly rolling your body into a compact armored ball isn’t enough to make you memorable, nine-banded Armadillos have another weird party trick: giving birth to identical quadruplets. It would be a mean feat once in a lifetime, but female armadillos can expect nothing less every single time they fall pregnant.
A female produces a single egg which, once fertilized, splits into four genetically identical embryos that each share one placenta. Scientists aren’t sure exactly why this happens, but it could be an evolutionary attempt to produce identical clones in the knowledge that one offspring might not always survive in an ever-changing environment.
It Rains Diamonds on Jupiter and Saturn
Earth can experience some freak weather, but possible inhabitants of Jupiter and Saturn could be well-accustomed to a meteorological event Kim Kardashian would dream of: diamond rain. Believe it or not, US scientists have determined that a phenomenon occurring on these planets is capable of producing a rock big enough for a hefty engagement ring out of thin air.
It all starts in the upper atmosphere, where lightning created during intense thunderstorms turns methane into carbon or ‘soot’ which then plummets down toward the planet's core. As the soot falls for about 6,000km, immense atmospheric pressure is enough to turn it into graphite and eventually compressed diamonds, like popcorn but in reverse.
Unfortunately for anyone expecting Elon Musk to create an intergalactic diamond shuttle anytime soon, it turns out these 1cm diamonds don’t last long. The stones fall for approximately 2 and a half Earth spans, by which point they likely melt into a sea of carbon, which is far less appealing.
You're Taller in the Morning
Ever been rejected because she only dates guys who are 6ft and over? Try suggesting breakfast for your next date and you might just get the boost you need. Believe it or not, you wake up taller each morning than you were when you went to bed the night before, and it’s all down to our good friend gravity.
When you sleep, your spine is able to gain some much-needed respite from the pressure of gravity, and your body replenishes lost fluids between intervertebral discs, which stretch and relax. When you are first awake, this excess fluid is enough to provide up to half an inch more height; so don’t feel bad about rounding up on your Tinder profile.
That also means we’re basically being gradually compressed throughout our day, which is a really pleasant thought. For the same reason, astronauts can experience an instant 2-inch growth spurt; another reason to put space travel on your bucket list.
Strawberries Aren't Berries, But Bananas Are
Pretty much every fruit we humans added the ‘berry’ suffix to isn’t actually a berry, because the English language is a Da Vinci code of utter nonsense. According to bonafide botanists, a berry is defined as a fleshy fruit with interior seeds, which stems from one flower with one ovary.
Strawberries and raspberries don’t grow this way and have seeds on the outside, making them ‘aggregate fruits’ instead. Meanwhile, bananas – whose seeds are so small they’re easy to forget – are borne of a single-ovaried flower, making them a berry. If that wasn’t wild enough, consider this: the humble avocado that turned into a millennial cult symbol? Also, a berry.
You Can Make Diamonds from Peanut Butter
Forget forking out big time at the jewelers or mining deep into the Earth for a heist-worthy diamond, just reach for the Jif instead - if you’re a scientist, that is. Dan Frost from the Bayerisches Geoinstitut in Germany discovered the snack's bizarre diamond-producing qualities in 2013 while trying to replicate the crystalline structures believed to exist in the Earth’s lower mantle.
Thousands of kilometers below the Earth’s surface, there’s a geological process that extracts oxygen from CO2, leaving behind carbon that can then be crystallized into diamonds under immense pressure. Frost needed to use a carbon-rich material to try and replicate this process, and that’s where good old peanut butter comes in.
Using a powerful piston under special lab conditions, Frost subjected the PB to pressures equal to 1.3 million times that of atmospheric pressure. Eventually, this was enough to produce a tiny diamond about 3 millimeters in diameter – which is smaller than a round-cut 0.25-carat stone.
Size isn’t the only drawback, because the agonizing process can take weeks at a time, and it also releases hydrogen, which causes small diamond-destroying explosions. I’d hold onto the engagement ring piggy bank for now.
I hope you were amazed at these fun facts that sound fake but are actually true. Thanks for reading!