Before the invention of human-created and human-sustained electricity in the late 1800s, the only electromagnetic wavelengths present on Earth (in any significant amount) were those of the colors seen in a rainbow.

Yet Another Reason To End A Marriage

Two states in the United States, Colorado and Delaware, have specific laws allowing a couple to annul their marriage if the marriage was done as "jest or dare." And at least three other states have case law giving a precedent for annulment because a marriage was a "jest or dare." Here's a typical example, from Connecticut's Davis v. Davis (1934):

The plaintiff and the defendant went on an automobile ride with several young people. It was a joyous occasion, and to add to the excitement the defendant dared the plaintiff to marry her. The plaintiff accepted the dare, a license for the marriage was procured in New York state, and the ceremony was at once performed by a justice of the peace there. Neither party intended at the time to enter into the marriage status. They returned to their respective homes after the ceremony and have never cohabited. Each was nineteen years old at the time.

New Site In Tanzania Demonstrates How Earliest Humans Adapted To Habitat Changes

An international team of researchers has reported the discovery of with stone tools dated to between 2 and 1.8 million years old in a new site within Tanzania’s Ewass Oldupa. That is the western area of Oldupai Gorge, a 28-mile-long canyon known for its hominin fossils, including the first recognized remains of Homo habilis. The most recent stone artifacts were found in layers of stratified sediments which helped determine that the tools are the oldest stone tools found in the gorge to date. The tools include pebble and cobble cores, sharp-edged flakes, and polyhedral cobbles.

Particularly exciting about the new site is the stratified layers also record changes in the local habitats. The habitats included systems of rivers and lakes, fern meadows, woodlands, palm groves, dry steppes, and evidence of natural burning. Fossils of wild cattle, pigs, hippos, panthers, lions, hyenas, primates, reptiles, and birds were also uncovered in the layers. From the combined evidence, researchers could re-create how early humans adapted when the landscape changed due to periodic volcanic eruptions nearby, and longer-term shifts in climate. Humans moved in and out of the area in response to the changes in the local habitat. Overall the evidence shows early humans were able to adapt when the environment shifted around them.

So far, the new site has not yet yielded any fossils of the early humans who occupied the newly uncovered site and made the stone tools, though their fossils have been found at another site less than half a mile away.

The word "gorilla" comes from the history of Hanno the Navigator (circa 500 BCE) a Carthaginian explorer on an expedition to the west African coast to the area that is today Sierra Leone. Members of the Carthaginian expedition encountered "savage people, the greater part of whom were women, whose bodies were hairy, and whom our interpreters called Gorillae." It remains unclear if these "savage people" were what is today called gorillas rather than another species.

Set of Painted Folding Screens from Japan's Edo Period

Circa 1600 - 1630. At least eight varieties of trees have been identified in the screens, reflecting a growing interest at that time among educated Japanese in natural history classification. The circular vermilion seals, reading "I'nen," that you can see on the extreme left and right panels of this screen show they were painted by Kyoto painter Tawaraya Sotatsu (active circa 1600-1640) or someone from the several generations of his followers who used his seal.

The First Latino Elected To The Capitol Building

Octaviano Larrazolo (1859 – 1930) was a Republican politician in Texas who, after moving to New Mexico, became involved state politics and focused on civil rights for the Mexican and Hispanic citizens who comprised two-thirds of New Mexico's population. In 1910 he gave a now-renowed speech which forced both Republicans and Democrats to acknowledge and address the concerns of the majority ethnicity in the state. His speech attacked machine politics in New Mexico that he felt were exploiting Hispanic voters across the state. Lorrazolo feared New Mexico was close to becoming like the South with racist Jim Crow laws preventing non-whites from participating in democracy by disenfranchising (preventing the use of their right to vote).

In the speech, Larrazolo said "you [Hispanics] … have allowed yourselves to be controlled by other men but you will be controlled by bosses only as long as you permit the yoke to rest on you...Every native citizen must unite in supporting this constitution because it secures to you people of New Mexico your rights—every one of them; the rights also of your children and in such a manner that they can never be taken away...if you want to acquire your freedom and transmit this sacred heritage in the land hallowed by the blood of your forefathers who fought to protect it...Do not wait until you are put in the position of Arizona which in two years will be able to disfranchise every Spanish speaking citizen."

Larrazolo eventually served as the fourth governor of New Mexico. Then as a United States senator. This made Larrazolo the first Mexican-American to serve in the U.S. Senate and the first Latino to serve in the U.S. Congress. Previously there had been three senators of Spanish descent; i.e. they were of European, not Latin American, descent.

Qin Lingyu, the Real-Life Mulan

During the late Ming Dynasty, Qin Liangyu (1574–1648) was a respected general and military leader against incursions by the nomadic Jin people, and against rebellions by local warlords. She was educated in martial arts, plus history and the classics alongside her brothers. After her marriage to a local district commander she accompanied him during minor battles against local warlords. She eventually led her own troop contingents, and after Liqngyu's husband's death, took his military post and raised and led troops. Seriously, she is very cool. And she is definitely NOT the inspiration for Mulan whose legend was around for hundreds (if not thousands) of years before Liangyu was born.

How Ancient Egypt Got Scarabs Right

The ancient Egyptians believed that a dung beetle drove the movement of the sun. The dung beetle, or sacred scarab (Scarabaeus sacer), rolls its balls of dung across the ground in a straight line. And the ancient Egyptians believed sacred scarabs did so from east to west, the movement of the sun. Today we know the ancient Egyptians were not so far off. The dung beetle is indeed guided by the sun, plus the light of the moon, and the light from the milky way. Roughly 600 of the 8,000-plus known dung beetle species roll such balls, for meals, gifts for potential mates or repositories for eggs. As far back as the 400s, Egyptian scholar Horapollo described the beetle’s movement as rolling its ball from east to west, while looking east. It took until 2003 for Horapollo's observation to be confirmed by modern scientific testing. When a team of entomologists placed five species of dung beetles in little arenas on farmland in South Africa, the creatures usually rolled dung balls in the direction of the sun as they attempted to make a straight line away from the dung source to a safe place to bury the dung ball and consume it in peace. To check that it was really the sun the dung beetles were following, the team reflected a sun off a mirror, while hiding the real sun from view. And just Horapollo would have hypothesized, the insects followed the reflected sun instead!

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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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