How A Bird Became A Person

Did you know that the word "sniper" comes from World War I? Before then, specialist marksmen were called "sharpshooters." But during World War I, British officers began referring to sharpshooters as ‘snipers’, recalling in late 1700s and 1800s when officers stationed in India would go bird hunting in the hills. The tiny snipe bird being one of the hardest of targets to hit. The slang implied that with their newfangled telescopic-sighted rifles, the specialist marksmen could likely hit snipes with ease.

From 1914 the word was widely adopted by the British press, and it spread from there.

What Happened To The Passenger Pigeon?

What was once the most populous bird in North America -- and maybe the world -- was extinct a century later. What happened?

The Crystal Skulls of Belize

First, what are crystal skulls? Everyone will agree that they are large carvings of skulls that are made from a clear (or slightly milky) quartz. Any definitions beyond that is up for debate. So let’s stick with that definition for this post.

The first crystal skulls appeared in public in the late 1800s. It supposedly came from an ancient civilization in mesoamerica. The public interest was very intrigued, and more crystal skulls started appearing. They were treated with a degree of credibility and museums around Europe, including the British Museum in London, bought them for their collections. Although their origin could not be proved, they were interesting enough items to be displayed.

Modern scientists began investigating them in the late 1900s. And the results were disappointing. The first thing the research found was that jeweller’s equipment (that wasn’t invented until the 1800s) was used to make parts of the skulls. Second, the quartz was found only in Madagascar and Brazil. Not a material the ancient Mayans or Aztec would have had access to. Finally -- and the nail in the coffin -- is that no crystal skulls have ever been found at a reputable archaeological dig. They just seemed to appear from thin air. So it appears that the famous crystal skulls were just fancy hoaxes.

"Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the more often and steadily we reflect upon them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me."

Immanuel Kant

Movie-Style Caper Saves Simon Bolivar's Life

Simon Bolivar survived an attempt on his life because he decided to sleep in a different room at the last minute. Specifically, in his mistress's room. So the would-be assassin entered where Bolivar was supposed to be sleeping, and stabbed the hammock where Bolivar was supposed to be lying. And he successfully assassinated one of Bolivar's captains! But he missed the big man.

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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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