In his 1991 book Human Universals, American anthropologist Donald Brown listed “features of culture, society, language, behavior, and psyche for which there are no known exception”:

  • fear of death
  • tickling
  • baby talk
  • territoriality
  • rites of passage
  • hairstyles
  • belief in supernatural
  • dance
  • containers
  • jokes
  • shame
  • turn-taking
  • weapons
  • myths
  • musical variation

The whole list is here.

The oldest dog (that can be verified) was an Australian cattle dog named Bluey who lived for 29 years and 5 months, from 1910 to 1939. In human years that's more than 160 years old.

In Deep Waters, There Be Monsters

Animals who live in polar waters or deep-sea waters tend to evolve into bigger animals than related species who live in shallower waters, in a phenomenon known as “polar gigantism.” Exactly why this happens is unknown.

The Most Deadly War (Until World War II)

Did you make a guess? Okay, here's the answer: maybe the War of the Three Kingdoms, or the Mongol Conquests. Let's explain each of those in turn. First, what was the War of the Three Kingdoms? When the Han Dynasty lost its grip on power in about 184 CE, China was split into three kingdoms: Wei, Shu, and Wu. The three fought continuously from 184 until 280 CE, when the Jin Dynasty conquered Wu. Historians estimate that between 36 and 40 million people died in all the fighting which occurred during that 96-year period.

The Mongol Conquests are probably better-known to those reading this blog post in English. The long version of the Mongol Conquests dates from 1206 when Genghis Khan burst out of Mongolia's steppe heartland to 1368, when the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty of China fell. Historians estimate between 30 million and 40 million people were killed.

But what about the An Lushan Rebellion, some of you are saying? That rebellion against the Tang Dynasty, which dragged on for 7 years and three Tang emperors before it was finally over, cost somewhere between 13 and 36 million. That's a very wide range. On the upper end, that could top the War of the Three Kingdoms and the Mongol Conquests. But that's only if they are in the low end of their possible death tolls, and the An Lushan Rebellion is at the very highest end of its possible death toll. Of course, historical death counts are always guesswork, so it may be that an entirely different war actually takes the top prize!

For those who are curious, World War II killed at minimum 56,125,162 people.

Did You Know Multiple Olympians Have Won Medals - While Pregnant?

And they're not just sports like shooting and archery. On the list are a skeleton athlete, multiple speed skaters, and even a hockey player!

Can You Name A Flying Dinosaur?

That's a trick question -- because in the scientific classification system "dinosaurs" only live on land, and do not fly or live in the water.

How Many "First Australians" Were There?

New research suggests ancestors of the Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, and Melanesian peoples arrived in a planned, coordinated migration. The mathemetical models used take three sets of data into account. First, fertility, longevity, and survival data from hunter-gatherer societies around the globe. Second, "hindcasts" of past climatic conditions from general circulation models -- basically the reverse of what scientists use to forecast future climate changes. Third, the long-established principles of population ecology. Combining these three, the scientists ran a number of simulations, to estimate how many people would have needed to arrive to found a sustainable Australian population.

The results suggest that the first Australians arrived with a settler population of at least 1,300 people. Any fewer than that, and they probably would not have survived, per the mathematical models. The probability of survival was also large if people arrived in smaller, successive waves, averaging at least 130 people every 70 or so years over the course of about 700 years. Either way, the settling of Australia was no accident. It was not one storm-tossed canoe washing up on a new shore. It was a planned and coordinated effort to migrate to a new homeland.

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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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