A team has found the naturally mummified remains of five young llamas thought to have been sacrificed by the Inca some 500 years ago at Tambo Viejo, an archaeological site on the coast of Peru. The animals had been prepared for the afterlife. They wore colorful string necklaces and earrings, and had been decorated using red paint and the feathers of tropical birds attached to wooden sticks. The five llamas were found under two buildings. One brown llama and three white ones were found beneath the clay floors of one building, in an area disturbed by looters. A single brown llama was found under the floor of a second building. “The adornments suggest that the offerings were very special,” said Lidio Valdez of the University of Calgary. “Indeed, historical records indicate that brown llamas were sacrificed to the creator Viracocha, while white llamas to the sun, the Inca main deity.”
Mark Twain, the famous American writer, hated the US Postal Service. He called the cost of sending letters to England "highway robbery" and thanks to his many public comments, even scored a meeting with Britain’s Postmaster General in an effort to makes overseas shipments more affordable.
Q: Why are South American animals smaller than animals on other continents?
A: Smaller animals can more easily navigate dense rainforests, like what covers most of South America. An easy comparison is deer. South American deer have evolved to have narrower racks of antlers, compared to their closest relatives in North America.
This may be the largest bird to ever fly. It is a pelagornithid, a group of ancient avians with spikey beaks, that included some of the largest flying birds of all time with wingspans double that of modern albatrosses. Members of this family first evolved 52 million years ago in Antarctica and quickly diversified till pelagornithids covered the globe’s oceans. This was actually why it took so long to identify pelagornithids as a single family: various pelagornithid species’ fossils were literally found all around the world. Sadly their last descendants died out around 2 million years ago.
Did you know that Connecticut had witch trials thirty years before the more-famous Salem Witch Trials? From 1647 to 1663, Hartford Connecticut accused 37 people of being witches. Leading to 11 executions. An influenza epidemic in New England in 1647 likely helped get things started.
Things began to slow down in the early 1660s. Ironically, this is partly attributed to the return of the governor of the Connecticut colony, John Winthrop Jr., who was seen as an expert in witchcraft! He had seen major alchemists in England stand against false accusations of witchcraft, and was well-versed in "natural magical practices" as well as alchemy. Winthrop therefore was skeptical of the accusations being made in Connecticut. He wanted to catch true witches not just squabbling neighbors. For instance, Winthrop's court established that multiple witnesses needed to bear witness to the same act of witchcraft simultaneously. This understandably results in fewer witchcraft accusations and no witches were executed in Connecticut after 1670.
The only place in the world where member of the skunk family (mephitidae) are found other than the Americas is Indonesia and the Philippines. Just two species remain in a genus: the Palawan stink badger or pantot (M. marchei), and the Sunda stink badger or teledu (M. javanensis).
Let's talk about where those names come from! The Indonesian genus are called "stink badgers" in English because they were previously thought to be in the badger family. More recent genetic analyses have led to their reclassification with skunks. And the skunk family as a whole is called mephitidae after the Latin word Mefitis, a Samnite goddess who personified the poisonous gases emitted from swamps and volcanoes.
In 1915 a non-pornographic film showed a fully-nude woman for the first time in the US. Called "Inspiration" it is about a sculptor trying to find the "perfect model" for his statues. The nudity was confined to showing the model posing for statues -- something the lady playing the model did in real life, to widespread acclaim. The nude scenes passed the National Board of Censorship without a single suggested change. The censors worried that if the scenes did not pass, censors might also have to ban Renaissance paintings.
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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!