1. A family of people with blue skin lived in Kentucky for many generations. The Fulgates of Troublesome Creek are thought to have gained their blue skin through combination of inbreeding and a rare genetic condition known as methemoglobinemia.
2. A U.S. park ranger named Roy C. Sullivan held the record for being struck by lightning the most times, having been struck — and surviving — seven times between 1942 and 1977. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot in 1983.
3. An epidemic of laughing that lasted almost a year broke out in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) in 1962. Several thousand people were affected, across several villages. It forced a school to close. It wasn’t fun, though — other symptoms included crying, fainting, rashes, and pain.
4. Casu marzu is a Sardinian cheese that contains live maggots. The maggots can jump up to five inches out of cheese while you’re eating it, so it’s a good idea to shield it with your hand to stop them jumping into your eyes.
5. During World War II, the crew of the British submarine HMS Trident kept a fully grown reindeer called Pollyanna aboard their vessel for six weeks (it was a gift from the Russians).
6. Everyone has a unique tongue print, just like fingerprints.
7. Experiments show that male rhesus macaque monkeys will pay to look at pictures of female rhesus macaques’ bottoms.
8. Female kangaroos have three vaginas.
9. In 1567, the man said to have the longest beard in the world died after he tripped over his beard running away from a fire.
10. In 1923, jockey Frank Hayes won a race at Belmont Park in New York despite being dead — he suffered a heart attack mid-race, but his body stayed in the saddle until his horse crossed the line for a 20–1 outsider victory.
11. In 1993, San Francisco held a referendum over whether a police officer called Bob Geary was allowed to patrol while carrying a ventriloquist’s dummy called Brendan O’Smarty. He was.
12. In 2007, an American man named Corey Taylor tried to fake his own death in order to get out of his cell phone contract without paying a fee. It didn’t work.
13 . In 2008 scientists discovered a new species of bacteria that lives in hairspray.
14. It costs the U.S. Mint almost twice as much to mint each penny and nickel as the coins are actually worth. Taxpayers lost over $100 million in 2013 just through the coins being made.
15. Light doesn’t necessarily travel at the speed of light. The slowest we’ve ever recorded light moving at is 38 mph.
16. Lt. Col. “Mad” Jack Churchill was only British soldier in WWII known to have killed an enemy soldier with a longbow. “Mad Jack” insisted on going into battle armed with both a medieval bow and a claymore sword.
17. Melting glaciers and icebergs make a distinctive fizzing noise known as “bergy seltzer”.
18. Most Muppets are left-handed. (Because most Muppeteers are right-handed, so they operate the head with their favoured hand.)
19. Powerful earthquakes can permanently shorten the length of Earth’s day, by moving the spin of the Earth’s axis. The 2011 Japan earthquake knocked 1.8 microseconds off our days. The 2004 Sumatra quake cost us around 6.8 microseconds.
20. Sigurd the Mighty, a ninth-century Norse earl of Orkney, was killed by an enemy he had beheaded several hours earlier. He’d tied the man’s head to his horse’s saddle, but while riding home one of its protruding teeth grazed his leg. He died from the infection.
21. Some fruit flies are genetically resistant to getting drunk — but only if they have an inactive version of a gene scientists have named “happyhour”.
22. The Dance Fever of 1518 was a month-long plague of inexplicable dancing in Strasbourg, in which hundreds of people danced for about a month for no apparent reason. Several of them danced themselves to death.
23. The Dutch village of Giethoorn has no roads; its buildings are connected entirely by canals and footbridges.
24. The first American film to show a toilet being flushed on screen was Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.
25. The first man to urinate on the moon was Buzz Aldrin, shortly after stepping onto the lunar surface.
26. The katzenklavier (“cat piano”) was a musical instrument made out of cats. Designed by 17th-century German scholar Athanasius Kircher, it consisted of a row of caged cats with different voice pitches, who could be “played” by a keyboardist driving nails into their tails.
27. The largest snowflake ever recorded reportedly measured 15 inches across.
28. The loneliest creature on Earth is a whale who has been calling out for a mate for over two decades — but whose high-pitched voice is so different to other whales that they never respond.
29. The longest musical performance in history is currently taking place in the church of St. Burchardi in Halberstadt, Germany. The performance of John Cage’s “Organ²/ASLSP (As Slow As Possible)” started on Sept. 5, 2001, and is set to finish in 2640. The last time the note changed was October 2013; the next change isn’t due until 2020.
30. The longest time between two twins being born is 87 days.
31. The northern leopard frog swallows its prey using its eyes — it uses them to help push food down its throat by retracting them into its head.
32. The oldest condoms ever found date back to the 1640s (they were found in a cesspit at Dudley Castle), and were made from animal and fish intestines.
33. The Romans used to clean and whiten their teeth with urine. Apparently it works. Please don’t do it, though.
34. The spikes on the end of a stegosaurus’ tail are known among paleontologists as the “thagomizer” — a term coined by cartoonist Gary Larson in a 1982 Far Side drawing.
35. The tiny parasite Toxoplasma gondii can only breed sexually when in the guts of a cat. To this end, when it infects rats, it changes their behaviour to make them less scared of cats.
36. The top of the Eiffel Tower leans away from the sun, as the metal facing the sun heats up and expands. It can move as much as 7 inches.
37. The world’s deepest postbox is in Susami Bay in Japan. It’s 10 metres underwater.
38. There are around 60,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body. If you took them all out and laid them end to end, they’d stretch around the world more than twice. But, seriously, don’t do that either.
39. There is a glacier called “Blood Falls” in Antarctica that regularly pours out red liquid, making it look like the ice is bleeding. (It’s actually oxidised salty water.)
40. There is a single mega-colony of ants that spans three continents, covering much of Europe, the west coast of the U.S., and the west coast of Japan.
41. There’s an opera house on the U.S.–Canada border where the stage is in one country and half the audience is in another.
42. Vladimir Nabokov nearly invented the smiley.