One of the world's largest corals, a type of boulder coral, is alive off the coast of American Samoa's Ta'u island. It has the largest circumference of any known coral in the world. Smooth and hemispherical (ie, half a sphere), the coral is over 15 feet tall. Based on formulas of how fast boulder corals grow, and the temperature of the water where Ta'u's coral lives, scientists estimate it to be around 360 years old. Apparently, that is pretty old for a coral colony!

Orangutans are named not for the color, orange. Their name comes from the Indonesian and Malay words "orang" meaning "person" and "hutan" meaning "forest." Orangutans are forest people! The term was originally used for human beings who lived in the forest, but was given to the ape by a Dutch physician and naturalist who put it in his book in 1631.

The sling is the oldest weapon we know of. Besides, well, throwing rocks. But that doesn't really count. Slings were used throughout antiquity, in the Americas and Africa and Eurasia. Even the Polynesian Islands, the last places to be when discovered by humans, had slings!     In its basic form, a sling is a length of string which holds a stone. (You can probably guess where the sling got its name.) The string is slung and when the stone is released, it flies with more force than if someone had thrown the stone by hand. With just a length of string, you would throw both the stone and the string together! Eventually, someone came up with putting a leather pouch in the middle of the string. This would hold the stone, and also allow the thrower to keep a hold of the sling after a throw instead of throwing it away and needing to make a new one, or take time fetching the thrown one.

The first feature-length film ever made was called "The Story of the Kelly Gang." It was made in 1906, in Australia, and told the story of the local folkhero Ned Kelly, an outlaw who was captured and hanged in 1880. Originally about 70 minutes long, just 17 or so minutes remain today.

Dorothy "Dodo" Cheney was the first American woman to win an Australian Open singles title in 1938. But that was just the beginning of her long career. She retired from competitive tennis in 2012 -- at the age of ninety-five! At the time of her retirement, Dodo had won a record 394 US national titles. When asked why she had continued to play for over seventy years, Dodo replied, "Because I love winning."

The National Park of American Samoa is one of the most remote national parks in the United States, with only 5,000 visitors in 2015. In contrast, Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks had over 4 million visitors each in 2015.

Corregidor Island, a small island at the entrance to Manila Bay. It is an important strategic point -- whoever controls the island, controls Manila. And with it the Philippines. Since the Spanish first built a base on the island in 1570, Corregidor has been captured, and held, by the Dutch, the British, the Americans, the Japanese, and the Americans again.   It was taken in December 1941 by Japanese forces after months of near-constant bombardment. Corregidor marked the fall of the Philippines to the Japanese Empire. When American forces retook Corregidor in February 1945, it was another marker of the long, slow, and inexorable island-hopping campaign to push the Japanese back into Japan. That 1945 battle was the last action that Corregidor saw. Today, it is an open-air museum. All across Corregidor are the ruins of the World War II military base, with bomb-ravaged buildings left as they were and many large guns still in place. Click through the image gallery to see more photographs of the island, as it looks today.

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    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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