Tallest Person Alive And Other Things I Learned In April


A muscle you might’ve been born without, an infamous serial killer meeting a First Lady of the United States, a species of frog that looks like poop, and much more!

Before you continue reading, I want you to know that this post *might* contain a bunch of facts you’ve already read.

Some context: I write a weekly series, published on Saturday mornings, where I round up a bunch of cool facts I learned that week. Then, at the end of every month, I take everything I learned and put it all into one convenient place for your reading pleasure — and that’s what you’re reading now. Here’s the one I wrote in March.

SO, without further ado, here are 92 Things I Learned In April™️:

Oh, and a quick warning: Number 11 on this list features a photo that people with trypophobia and arachnophobia might find disturbing.

1.
H.H. Holmes has been labeled America’s first serial killer. Holmes’s hotel, which has been informally referred to as his “Murder Castle,” was in operation during the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, which drew 27 million visitors, many of whom were out-of-towners looking for a cheap place to stay. For this reason, it’s difficult to determine precisely how many people might’ve perished within the Murder Castle’s walls:

The murder hotel in Chicago from
ThatsInsane

9.
Located in Utah, Pando is considered by some to be the largest living organism on the planet. It occupies 106 acres, consists of over 40,000 individual “trees,” and is believed to weigh about 13 million pounds (5,896,701 kilograms):

Pando, the tree God from
Bossfight

10.
Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda was a Japanese soldier who was stationed at a remote outpost in the Philippines during WWII and who remained there until 1974 under the belief that the war was ongoing. He and a few men (the last of which would die in 1972, leaving Lt. Onoda alone) remained on high alert for all those years, hiding from search parties and even killing locals who they believed posed a threat:

Hiroo Onoda from
ThatsInsane

25.
In 1972, a plane carrying a Uruguayan rugby team to a match in Chile crashed high up in the Andes mountains. Of the plane’s 45 passengers and crew, 33 would survive the crash but only 16 would make it off the mountain alive. They endured freezing cold temperatures and near-starvation for 72 straight days, and were forced to eat the bodies of those who had died in order to survive. In an interview with National Geographic, Dr. Roberto Canessa — one of the survivors who was 19 years old at the time — clarified, “Cannibalism is when you kill someone, so technically this is what is known as anthropophagy.” The group struggled with the decision over whether or not to eat their fallen friends but ultimately it wasn’t a choice at all; they likely would’ve starved otherwise:

Survivors of the Andes plane crash Flight 571 pictured outside of the plane, 1972 from
HistoryFans

30.

Unlike other bird species, owls aren’t really built to withstand lots of moisture:

Your Twitter feed needs these photos of a ruru (morepork) getting an antibacterial shampoo & blowdry at Wildbase Recovery Centre. This is why you don’t see owls fly in the rain 😂 #NotWaterProof #Morepork #Ruru #BirdWatching


Twitter: @CerebralNurse

31.

The USS Johnston — a US Navy destroyer that was lost in combat during World War II — was recently rediscovered at a depth of 21,000 feet (6400.8 meters) in the Philippine Sea, which is equivalent to four miles (!!), making it the deepest shipwreck ever recorded:


Victor Vescovo / Caladan Oceanic

34.

Fossil records show that magnolia trees are at least 60 million years old. They’re so ancient, in fact, that their flowers evolved to be pollinated by beetles and flies because bees, butterflies, and moths hadn’t existed yet:


Photography By Keith Getter (all / Getty Images

39.

This amazing photo depicts a 162-year-old portrait of a Civil War soldier in stunning HD. It was restored and colored by Adam “A.B.” Cannon, a photo restoration and enhancement specialist based in Illinois:


ABCannon / Via abcannon.com

If you’d like to see more of his work, you can follow him on Instagram here.

40.
James Harrison discovered at a young age that his blood contains a rare antibody that helps fight a disease that can be fatal to newborns, so he donated blood every week for 60 years. The Australian Red Cross Blood Service estimated that his donations have saved the lives of *2.4 million* babies in Australia:

James Harrison from
Damnthatsinteresting

48.

Up until the late 1980s, it was widely believed that babies don’t feel pain. So common was this belief in the mainstream medical community that many infants who were undergoing surgery weren’t given any type of anesthesia or pain relief.

49.

This is the actual violin that was played on the deck of the Titanic as it was sinking, according to surviving eyewitnesses. It belonged to Wallace Hartley, who led the quintet band. Wallace’s body was found floating in the Atlantic several days after the sinking and his violin was found strapped to his back and stored safely inside its case. It sold for $1.7 million in 2013:


Matt Cardy / Getty Images

The inscription reads: “For Wallace on the occasion of our engagement. From Maria”

52.

In 2014, scientists discovered an ancient virus that had been lying dormant in the Siberian permafrost for 30,000 years and that, when thawed, became infectious again. Though this particular virus poses no threat to humans, it’s a stark warning about what sort of long-forgotten threats to humanity might be unearthed as the globe continues to warm.


Tatiana Gasich / Getty Images, Aitor Diago / Getty Images


61.
Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination would change the course of history, actually survived an assassination attempt earlier that day when a bomb that was intended to kill him ended up exploding underneath the car directly behind his in the motorcade. Fate would intervene, however, when Archduke Ferdinand decided to take an unplanned detour to the hospital to visit those injured in the attack. On the way, his chauffeur accidentally made a wrong turn and came to a stop right in front of 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip, who shot and killed him, setting off World War I. Here’s the coat the archduke was wearing that day, still covered in his blood:

The bloodstained coat of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. His assasination started the Great War. Sarajevo, 1914 [811×1000] from
ArtefactPorn

62.
The tarantula hawk is a species of spider wasp that gets its name for its penchant for hunting tarantulas, which it’s able to paralyze with a single sting. In fact, these terrifying creatures boast the second most painful sting on the planet (bullet ant is the first):

Tarantula Hawk from
ALLTHEBUGS

63.

Katalin Kariko is an unsung hero of the COVID-19 pandemic:

Story of a 66-year-old researcher, an immigrant, who rarely got grants, never got her own lab, never earned more than $60K. For four decades, she kept working on mRNA—a path considered foolish. Her work is the basis for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. https://t.co/wOvCEM8jja


Twitter: @nathanheller

66.
This is Odette Sansom Hallowes — codename “LISE” — who was a highly decorated spy during World War II. She was hired by the British government to infiltrate Nazi-occupied France and assist in recruiting, training, and arming members of the French resistance. She would eventually be captured and brutally tortured by the Gestapo. Even as they ripped out all of her toenails she would repeat these words: “I have nothing to say.” She never once revealed the whereabouts of her co-conspirators and comrades in arms, and was ultimately sent to Ravensbrück, a concentration camp for women. Despite it all, Odette Hallowes survived the war. She died at the age of 82 in 1995:

WW2 SOE agent Odette Sansom Hallowes GC MBE, photographed in 1946. Colourised. from
OldSchoolCool

73.
Cryonics is the act of freezing the dead in the hopes that science will someday become advanced enough to resurrect them. In Scottsdale, Arizona, there’s a place called Alcor Life Extension Foundation and they’re the self-proclaimed “world leader in cryonics, cryonics research, and cryonics technology.” According to their website, they currently have 181 “patients.” One of them is baseball legend Ted Williams and a former employee accused Alcor of mishandling Williams’s corpse and also preserving his decapitated head separately from the rest of his body:

145 People Are Frozen And Waiting For Science To Resurrect Them In The Arizona Desert from
interestingasfuck

76.

Earlier this week, the Ingenuity Helicopter became the first aircraft to fly on Mars. One of the reasons this is such a huge deal is because there was no guarantee it would work. Mars has 1/3 of Earth’s gravity and a *very* thin atmosphere (helicopters need air to fly and there’s not a lot of that on the Red Planet).

77.

Even so, NASA was confident they would succeed. So sure were they that Ingenuity would make history by being the first aircraft to fly on Mars that under its solar panel they fastened a small piece of fabric from one of the wings of the Wright brothers’ historic plane, the Flyer, which flew the first controlled and sustained flight on Earth.


Patrick T. Fallon / Getty Images, Bettmann / Bettmann Archive


79.

This white stork with a Central African spear through its neck isn’t a recreation; it’s the real deal, and it’s on display in a German museum. There was a time when no one really knew where birds went during the winter months and in 1822, this hapless stork survived being speared in Africa only to make the long journey back to Germany to get shot by a hunter:

Until a few centuries ago, many European zoologists were perplexed about where migratory birds went during the winter.

The mystery was solved in the early 1800s when a stork returned to Germany with a spear from Central Africa through its neck.


Twitter: @IFLScience

80.
The 588th Night Bomber Regiment was an all-woman bomber squadron that flew roughly 30,000 night raids against the Nazis during WWII. Since the planes they flew were extremely rudimentary — made of little more than wood and canvas, and therefore very flammable — they needed to rely on stealth if they were to succeed (and survive), so they took to shutting off their engines as they approached a target. The only warning that an attack was imminent was a faint “whooshing” sound in the night sky, so the Germans took to calling them “Nachthexen,” which translates to “Night Witches,” a name that the women of the 588th would come to embrace:

Meet the “Night Witches”, fearless Russian female pilots who bombed nazis by night, 1941 [1200×1200] from
HistoryPorn

82.

Some American honey contains low levels of radioactivity left over from nuclear bomb tests conducted in the 1950s and 1960s. How did it end up in honey? Long story short, the bombs sent a radioactive element into the atmosphere, wind and rain sprinkled it across the United States, some plants absorbed it, and bees pollinated those plants. Researchers say the amounts are very small and therefore harmless, but that “they may have been much higher in the 1970s and 1980s.”


Universalimagesgroup / Getty Images, Nitrub / Getty Images


83.

This gorgeous volcanic eruption in Ethiopia was captured by photographer Olivier Grunewald. When burning sulfuric gas comes into contact with air, it turns blue. But beware, those very same gases can be deadly if you breathe them:

87.

These are the Pyramids of Meroë, which were once part of a wealthy ancient city in the Kingdom of Kush in what is now Sudan. If you’re wondering what happened to the tops of the pyramids, which were once beautifully ornate, they were literally blown up in 1834 by an Italian treasure hunter named Giuseppe Ferlini, who then looted them and sold the artifacts to museums in Munich and Berlin.


Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

91.

And these fossilized footprints, which stretch for a mile and are the longest continuous set ever discovered, were left by a woman and a small child who were in a great hurry. For some stretches, the woman carried the child and at times the child walked on its own. Other prints in the area suggest she may have been trying to avoid saber-toothed tigers and that she likely crossed paths with a mammoth and a giant sloth:


Twitter: @BetoReitenbach

92.
Horses played a much-more critical role in World War I than you might think. Many battles were fought on rough and unforgiving terrains, ranging from arid deserts to steep mountains. In addition to being used in battle, horses were responsible for hauling gear, pulling artillery, and transporting the wounded — all in the midst of explosions, tank and gunfire, and tear gas attacks. Some estimate that as many as 8 million horses were killed during the Great War. Here’s how some veterans paid tribute to their bravery and sacrifice:

American Soldiers Paying Tribute To The Horses Lost In World War I from
interestingasfuck

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