1.Scientists believe that giraffes' tongues are black to protect them from getting sunburned. Giraffes spend so much time grazing on trees with their tongues out that the first eight to nine inches are black, while the rest of their tongues are pink because they won't see the sun.
Nat Geo / Via giphy.com
2.I recently saw this tweet that claimed that Selena Quintanilla, the singer who was tragically shot and killed in 1995, was delivered by none other than Ron Paul, who ran for president and worked as an obstetrician-gynecologist in Texas in the 1960s and 1970s. I looked into the story, and it gets even more wild from there: Selena's mother didn't even know she was pregnant. "My wife was feeling ill. The doctor said at the conclusion [of the examination], 'You have a tumor. We have to operate and remove it,'" Selena's father, Abraham Quintanilla said.
The couple decided to seek out a second opinion before turning to surgery. Ron Paul was the doctor who Marcella Ofelia Quintanilla sought guidance from. "That tumor that the other doctor wanted to remove has two arms and two legs. She's pregnant," Abraham said Paul told them. Selena was born on April 16, 1971 and was delivered by Paul, who went on to pursue politics. After Selena's father revealed this connection, Paul's office said that while Paul didn't remember the exact situation, they believed it was certainly plausible. "There were just so many babies delivered in that period that [Paul] does not recall that specific case," Daniel McAdams, executive director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, told the Houston Chronicle.
3.The Disappointment Islands, located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, were named in 1765 by John Byron. Byron reached the islands after being sent by England to settle an island off of South America that would both give British boats a place to rest and refuel, and serve as an alternate route to the West Indies. Byron had been sailing through the Pacific for over a month by the time he reached the island. When he got there, he claimed he was incredibly grateful to reach land, but said the natives were incredibly angry that he was invading their home. An incredibly frustrated Byron left the island, and dubbed it the "Islands of Disappointment," which was later changed to the Disappointment Islands.
4.In 1969, the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead, and several other bands teamed up to put on the Altamont Free Concert at the Altamont Speedway in California. The concert, which was billed "Woodstock of the West," was free to attend, in part because the Rolling Stones had been heavily criticized for the ticket prices for their recent tour. On December 6, 1969, over 300,000 fans gathered for the festivities, which were also being filmed for a documentary about the Rolling Stones.
The festival wasn't originally supposed to be held at Altamont, but several other venues pulled out, leaving the crew at Altamont with only a few days to set up the staging for the show. In addition to location issues, those involved said there were other logistical challenges, and there was nobody appointed to oversee the entire festival. Members of the Hells Angels were hired to provide security, and were given $500 worth of beer as payment for their services.
During the concert, members of the Hells Angels became increasingly violent with attendees. Some reported getting poked with pool cues by the guards, and a member of the Hells Angels even assaulted Marty Balin from Jefferson Airplane for trying to break up a fight between audience members. After seeing the chaos, the Grateful Dead decided to pull out of the show. The Rolling Stones made the choice to perform, and during their performance of "Sympathy for the Devil," Mick Jagger begged the audience to chill out.
During the performance, Meredith Hunter, an 18-year-old Black man in the crowd, was beat up by a member of the Hells Angels. After pulling his gun, Hunter was fatally stabbed by Alan Passaro. Passaro was later acquitted for the crime. Despite footage from the show appearing in the documentary Gimme Shelter, the Rolling Stones have rarely spoken about what happened at Altamont. Others have criticized the band for acting like they were the victims in the situation. "There has not been the slightest acceptance of responsibility," Joel Selvin, author of Altamont, a book about the tragedy, said. "The Stones left town without paying any of their bills. That was a pirate trip: They came to the island, they ransacked it for booty and young maidens, and then they made it back home.”
5.Jupiter's four largest moons (out of 67 total!) are called the Galilean moons, and were named Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, after the Roman god Jupiter's extramarital lovers. As more moons were discovered, they were also named after Jupiter's many partners, until NASA ran out of names in 2004 and had to start naming new moons after Jupiter's children. In 2016, a NASA spacecraft reached Jupiter to monitor the moons. The kicker? They cleverly named the spacecraft Juno, after Jupiter's wife. "The god Jupiter drew a veil of clouds around himself to hide his mischief, and his wife, the goddess Juno, was able to peer through the clouds and reveal Jupiter's true nature," NASA said in a statement about the mission.
6.Lizzo recently played James Madison's crystal flute, marking the first time the flute has ever been played. The flute was loaned to the singer by the Library of Congress, and has quite the fantastic backstory. The flute was made in Paris by Claude Laurent, who was famous for crafting crystal flutes with intricate patterns and jeweled keys. Soon, Laurent's flutes became famous among the aristocracy and other famous figures around the world. Laurent crafted a custom flute for Madison as a gift for his second inauguration in 1813.
NOBODY HAS EVER HEARD THIS FAMOUS CRYSTAL FLUTE BEFORENOW YOU HAVEIM THE FIRST & ONLY PERSON TO EVER PLAY THIS PRESIDENTIAL 200-YEAR-OLD CRYSTAL FLUTE— THANK YOU @librarycongress ❤️
On August 24, 1814, British troops stormed Washington, D.C., setting fire to the nation's capital during the War of 1812. First Lady Dolley Madison began packing up priceless belongings before fleeing the White House. The crystal flute was rumored to be one of the items she rescued, along with a portrait of George Washington. "At this late hour, a wagon has been procured. I have had it filled with the plate and most valuable portable articles belonging to the house," she wrote in a letter to her sister. The flute was later passed on to Madison's son from her first marriage. Upon the son's death, the flute was donated to a museum before making its way to the Library of Congress.
7.Bottlenose dolphins identify each other using a distinctive whistle sound that's almost a cross between a name and a personal theme song. When a dolphin hears their sound called out, they answer back.
University of California / Via giphy.com
8.Thomas Jefferson was an avid horticulturist who loved spending time tending to his gardens, which contained more than 300 plant varieties. At Monticello, Jefferson's Virginia estate, he grew several types of poppies. Peggy Cornett, Monticello’s historic gardener and curator of plants, told Mental Floss that growing poppies was very typical of the time period. Once Jefferson died in 1826, his gardens were mostly abandoned. About 115 years later, the Garden Club of Virginia started to restore Jefferson's gardens.
In the 1980s, the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants opened. Part of the center's offerings included rare seeds available for purchase. One of the seed varieties available for purchase were poppy seeds. No one thought much of the poppy seeds until 1991 when the Drug Enforcement Administration began to crack down on drugs following a drug bust at the University of Virginia. Soon, the DEA was inquiring about the poppies available at the Center for Historic Plants.
The Center was incredibly honest about their poppies, and ensured they were properly labeled. However, they noted their frustration with the situation, and said the DEA refused to clarify if selling the poppy seeds were illegal. After turning to both the Attorney General and the US Department of Agriculture with mixed answers, the Center finally asked the DEA to make a final decision. The DEA ruled that the Center had to pull up the plants and stop selling the seeds. While growing opium poppies is actually illegal, the Center still grows some plants with low levels of opium.
9.Before hitting it big in Hollywood, Whoopi Goldberg was a beautician at a funeral parlor. "I did hair and makeup on dead people," she said in an Oprah's Master Class video. "There was an ad in the paper! And I'm a licensed beautician as well, because I went to beauty school." Goldberg also said that her boss at the funeral home was a huge prankster. On one occasion soon after Goldberg accepted the gig, her boss called her into his office for a meeting. When she arrived, her boss was nowhere to be found, but the desk drawers were opening and closing on their own. A terrified Goldberg ran out of the room and hit her head before her boss revealed that he was hiding. Goldberg said the prank was all in good fun, and that it actually made all of her fears about working in the funeral home disappear.
10.Director Mel Stuart's young daughter loved Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory so much that she persuaded him to adapt the novel into a movie. After agreeing to turn the beloved book into a movie, Stuart turned to David L. Wolper, a movie producer to work with him on the film. At the time, Wolper was working on a project with Quaker Oats, who was coincidentally trying to get into the candy business. Wolper thought that Quaker Oats should finance the film and create their first candy bar as a promotion tool for the movie.
Quaker Oats agreed and ended up spending $3 million on the movie. In exchange, the company received exclusive rights to use the Wonka name on their new candy line, which would feature prominently in the movie. In fact, Quaker Oats is allegedly the reason why the movie's name was changed to Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory: They wanted the focus to be more on the candy instead of the children, and they thought centering Willy Wonka was the perfect way to do so.
While the movie was in production, Breaker Confections, a subsidiary of Quaker Oats, changed their name to the Willy Wonka Candy Company. They started production on several candies, including a chocolate bar that resembled the ones containing golden tickets from the film. The company struggled to perfect their recipe for the candy bar. With just a month left before the movie's release date, they ultimately went to production on their best attempt at recreating the classic candy bar. The issue? The Wonka bar melted way too easily, even when on shelves in stores. While the Wonka bar eventually did make it to market, it was pulled in 2010 for poor sales.
11.A blue-ringed octopus might be tiny, but its bite can be incredibly dangerous! The octopus is normally found in shallow areas. When it feels threatened, blue rings appear all over its body as a warning sign for potential predators, which is where its name originated. A blue-ringed octopus's venom is 1,000 times more powerful than cyanide, and despite its small size, its body contains enough venom to kill up to 26 people at any given time.
12.While many people have speculated that Elton John's classic song "Rocket Man" is either about drug use or was written as a response to David Bowie's "Space Oddity," the singer and his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin actually revealed that Taupin was inspired by "The Rocket Man," a 1951 short story by Ray Bradbury, who was famous for writing Fahrenheit 451. "[That story] was about how astronauts in the future would become sort of an everyday job," Taupin said. "So, I kind of took that idea and ran with it."
Taupin added that he originally thought of the lyrics while driving through the English countryside while visiting his parents. During a 2016 interview, John admitted that he actually had no idea Taupin was inspired by the story when writing the song. "Rocket Man" reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 when it was released in 1972. By 2022, the song was certified double platinum.
13.While I've always thought of yellow as a happy color; it once was associated with drama and controversy, in part because of the Yellow Book, a British magazine. The Yellow Book covered French art and literature that was deemed far too racy for British audiences. As a result, people in England began associating the color yellow with controversial issues of the Yellow Book. When Oscar Wilde was arrested for his relationship with a man in 1895, it was rumored that he had a copy of the Yellow Book in his possession, which caused people to go to the magazine's offices and throw stones through the windows. The claim that Wilde had the magazine was later debunked.
14.In 1967, John "Chickie" Donohue was frustrated when he heard people protest against the Vietnam War while he knew that his friends were fighting overseas. He wanted to do something to show support to his friends. Donohue, who spent plenty of time in his neighborhood bar in New York, was inspired by Colonel Lynch, a former soldier who tended bar. Lynch mentioned that he would love to go to Vietnam to give the soldiers a beer. Donohue decided that he would do just that, and vowed to travel to Vietnam, find his friends, and give them a beer and a hug.
Donohue signed on to travel on a boat full of ammo heading to Vietnam. He had six specific men who he wanted to visit in mind, although one of them died during the war, and another was discharged after getting malaria. Even though he believed it would be difficult to find the men in Vietnam, Donohue said he was willing to do whatever it took to find his friends. He shockingly was able to find Tommy Collins right after he got off of the boat. "I said, 'What the hell are you doing here?'" Collins told CBS. "He says, 'I came to bring you a beer.' 500,000 soldiers and Marines in the country at that time, and he finds four of us. Amazing!"
TIFF / Via giphy.com
Donohue ultimately spent four months in Vietnam, and got around the country by hitching rides on military planes. He said that he found his friends in Vietnam through a series of unbelievable coincidences. While walking down a road, a vehicle pulled up to Donohue. Turns out, one of the men Donohue was searching for was driving! After returning home, Donohue said his opinions on the war changed, and he went from supporting it to questioning it after seeing what it was like in Vietnam. Donohue wrote a memoir about his experience. The memoir, called The Greatest Beer Run Ever, was adapted into a movie starring Zac Efron as Donohue, streaming on Apple TV+.
15.In Pollyanna, a 1913 novel, the main character plays what she calls "a glad game," where she has to find something to be happy about in every situation. As Pollyanna grew increasingly popular after several film adaptions, the "Pollyanna Principle" was created in 1978. This principle refers to the phenomenon in which people tend to give precedence to positive events over negative ones, and can often remember the positive items more accurately than negative ones. Examples of this include putting positive tasks before unpleasant ones on a to-do list and sharing good news before bad news.
Relativity Media / Via giphy.com
16.While filming Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston was given a lesson on how to cook meth by the DEA. In the hit series, Cranston played Walter White, a terminally ill chemistry teacher who turns to making drugs as an attempt to provide for his family, so he had to be able to convincingly cook meth onscreen. During an interview with Howard Stern, Cranston said that while he was given a meth-making lesson, it didn't result in actual meth. "We were taught how to make meth [by] DEA chemists who were our consultants on the show. We didn't cook it, but we were told exactly the process at that high level."
FX / Via giphy.com