Literal Meanings of Countries' Names

Click through the image gallery to see names' meanings around the world. Some of these names are older than others. For instance, Mexico's name comes from Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs. Also, some of these take the English name's meaning, others the local language's meaning. But still -- fun maps!

Between 1970 and 2016, Earth has lost 68% all birds, fish, and animals. That is over two-thirds of Earth’s wildlife, gone. We live in a historic time.

A total of 62 countries have gained their independence from Great Britain. That is about 20% of the world's countries! This is followed by France with 28 countries, Spain with 17, the Soviet Union/Russia with 16, Portugal with 7 and the United States with 5.

Things English Can’t Do - That Other Languages Can

A fun video about what some other languages have evolved to do. And English did not.

Ancient Domesticated Bananas Found Off The Coast of New Guinea

Some extremely early evidence of banana cultivation -- dating to around 2,000 years ago -- has been found on Mabuiag Island. That's in the Torres Strait, between the tip of northern Australia and the island of New Guinea. With the permission of the island's Goemulgal community a team examined soil near Wagadagam Village. Besides thousands of microscopic fossilized starch grains and banana phytoliths, they also found traces of terraces at the site, indicating that banana cultivation had intensified on the island around 1,300 years ago (roughly 700s CE). Interestingly the survey did not find evidence of wild banana plants on Mabuiag Island. That means ancient humans brought already-domesticated bananas to the island specifically for agricultural production.

Why Everyone Knows The Gurkha

The Gurkha are Nepalese soldiers. In the last few centuries they have served, at various times, in the the British, Indian, and Nepalese military. Gurkha have a legacy of bravery and incredible exploits, both as units and as individuals. This anecdote is a good example of why:

When President Sukarno of Indonesia announced, in 1963, that he was going to “crush Malaysia,” British forces were sent in to oppose his attack – which meant that the Gurkhas from Nepal were called in to help. Tim Bowden, in his book, One Crowded Hour, wrote about how the Gurkhas were asked if they would be willing to jump from transport planes into combat. Surprisingly, the Gurkhas, who usually agreed to anything, provisionally rejected the plan. A cameraman, Neil Davis, told Bowden an incident that went something like this: The next day, one of the Gurkha officers sought out the British officer who made the request. “We have talked it over, and are prepared to jump under certain conditions.” “What are they?” “We’ll jump if the land is marshy or reasonably soft with no rocky outcrops.” The British officer said that the dropping area would almost certainly be over jungle, and there would not be rocky outcrops. “Anything else?” “Yes,” said the Gurkha. “We want the plane to fly as slowly as possible and no more than one hundred feet high.” The British officer told them the planes always fly as slow as possible when dropping troops, but to jump from one hundred feet was impossible, because the parachutes wouldn’t open in time. “Oh,” the Gurkha responded. “That’s all right then. We’ll jump . . . you didn’t tell us we would have parachutes.”

New Zealand's Tuatara Genetics Are Weird

New Zealand has a lizard-like animals called a tuatara. And according to new sequencing of the tuatara's entire genome - one of the largest on record and 50% larger than humans' - it appears this strange creature is neither lizard, bird, nor mammal. The tuatara is a the last remaining of its kind, which has been on earth so long that it has features of lizards, birds, and mammals. Today, the species' closest relatives are snakes and lizards. Though to call them relatives is like saying humans and elephants are relatives. Their common ancestor was alive around 250 million years ago. The tuatara is an important link to the now-extinct stem reptiles that are the evolutionary ancestors of dinosaurs, modern reptiles, birds, and mammals.

FIFA prevented women's soccer from growing and competing with their men's games by banning association member stadiums from holding women's matchs. For 50 years! The ban was in place from 1921 to 1971.

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    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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