Sometimes it feels like humanity has it all figured out. Like the world is getting smaller, and there aren't any more exciting discoveries or facts coming to light. But that couldn't be further from the truth. In reality, there are still plenty of things to learn, and those truths aren't always savory. In fact, they can be downright disturbing. Both mother nature and humanity have a dark side, so come step into it and learn the facts they didn't teach us in school.
Victorians Ate Mummies
Yes, you read that title right. Part of the reason mummies are so rare today is that Europeans used to grind them up and use them as medicine. The practice started around the 12th century but reached peak popularity during the Victorian era. Eventually, some people stopped caring if the powder had come from actual mummies or just regular ground-up remains. We're not really sure if that's better or worse.
Victorians also hosted mummy unwrapping parties, in which they would invite over dinner guests and, you guessed it, unwrap centuries-old human remains.
Sharks Have Survived Every Mass Extinction
If you were asked to name some of nature's best-designed animals, the odds are sharks would be at or near the top of the list. It turns out you wouldn't be wrong, either. Sharks have been on Earth for around 420 million years. That means they were on Earth before the dinosaurs and possibly even before the first tree sprouted. That's seriously old. They've survived Earth's four out of five mass extinctions.
However, despite their longevity, there's a real possibility they could all be wiped out within this generation. If that doesn't put things into perspective, we don't know what will.
There's A Disease That Convinces People They're Dead
There's a disease out there called Cotard's syndrome that actually convinces people that they're dead or dying. It has also been reported to convince people that they're missing body parts, organs, or blood or that they don't exist. These illusions or beliefs are so powerful that some people end up starving themselves since they believe they no longer have a body or are now immortal. Doctors aren't sure exactly what causes this, but it has been linked to other conditions.
It has been linked to things like severe depression and dementia. It's also more likely to develop in people who are at least 50 years old.
New Yorkers Are More Likely to Bite You Than a Shark
This one might come off as a little weird, and New Yorkers shouldn't take offense, but the statistics don't lie. You're more likely to be bitten by a New Yorker than you are a shark. You're actually around ten times more likely to be bitten by someone in the city. However, the odds are still comparatively low. Around 1,500 people are bitten by other people every year in the city.
Dogs are the only thing you're more likely to be bitten by while visiting the city. Next in line are cats, followed by rats, which might not be too surprising for some New Yorkers.
Evolution Gave Humans "Uncanny Valley" for a Creepy Reason
Scientists have long known that some fears, such as spiders and snakes, resulted from evolution. Humans evolved to learn to fear things that could likely kill us. Those who didn't were more likely to mess with things they shouldn't and get bit. That has led some researchers to theorize that the "uncanny valley" response (or feeling of uneasiness) associated with things that look human but aren't is actually evolutionary.
Scientists still aren't sure exactly why this is, despite the term first being coined in the 1970s. But scientists have learned that monkeys experience a similar reaction when presented with lookalikes of themselves.
You Momentarily Go Blind Every Time You Move Your Eyes
This one comes down to your eyes playing a trick on you. Every time you look at something, you momentarily go blind. But your brain produces an image based on context clues so that you don't even notice. It's called saccadic masking, and we can find a good example of this when we look at clocks. It's why sometimes the first tick of the second's hand seems to last longer than the rest.
Some researchers believe our brains do this to help us perceive the world as more stable. It also puts into perspective how in control of how we perceive reality our brains are without us even realizing it.
It's Impossible to Know if Everyone Experiences Reality the Same as You
This one is a bit of a mind twister. There's no way to know for sure if you perceive reality the same as others. We already know that people perceive things like taste and colors in different ways. However, perceiving reality in different ways brings up far larger questions. For example, people who suffer from some form of mental illness might perceive the world entirely differently from everyone else.
Does that make what they perceive any less real or of value? We don't want to get too in the weeds here, but it is cool to think that there are differences even in how you and your friend might perceive the same thing.
Women Are Usually Murdered by Someone They Knew
If you've ever watched a true-crime show, then this one might not be that surprising for you. Statistically, women are most likely to be murdered by a family member or partner than by anyone else. They're also more likely to be murdered in their own home. Men, on the other hand, are most likely to be murdered by someone they loosely know or a stranger in a public place.
Of course, this statistic says a lot about domestic violence problems, but it's also just terrifying if you're a woman to know you're most likely to be ended by someone you know really well.
Your Brain Can Trick You Into Thinking Your Reflection Is Someone Else
This might be the origin of the Bloody Mary chant, but we can't be sure. If it's dark enough and you look in a mirror, you will start to hallucinate that your reflection is moving. Interestingly, some studies that have had people look into mirrors for long periods found that people saw the faces of monsters, animals, and other people. However, it's just your brain playing tricks on you. There isn't really any apparition or person there.
Some researchers believe it has something to do with your brain trying to put together an image of your face despite there not being enough light to do so, resulting in a distorted image.
Getting Rid of Daylight Savings Would Decrease Car Accidents by 70%
At this point, is there anyone out there who is a fan of daylight saving time? If there is, then maybe this next fact will change your mind. Studies have shown that the number of heart attacks increases with daylight saving time because of the loss of an hour of sleep. Car accidents have also been shown to increase. Both tend to decrease in number when it ends, and people get an hour extra of sleep.
On a similar note, car accidents have been shown to decrease by about 70% in areas when schools start an hour later. That still doesn't mean it was never really your fault for showing up to school late.
Butterflies Like to Drink Blood
We often picture butterflies as sort of like bees in that they only drink nectar from flowers. It's part of their appeal and why humans adore them so much. However, butterflies have a taste for a lot more, including blood, if it's around. Some can detect the scent of blood and will gather in numbers depending on how much blood is present. Butterflies have also been known to feed on rotting corpses.
At the end of the day, most butterflies prefer nectar, but it still changes our view of them as adorable little bugs.
Anyone Can Be Conditioned to Develop Severe Mental Illnesses Within a Week
This particular fact goes for people with or without a family history of mental illness: it's possible to give someone a severe mental illness in as little as a week. This is pretty scary, but it actually makes sense, considering you see this in cases involving abuse all the time. It shows how fragile our brains are and how little we still know about them. Another thing that can cause mental illness to develop quickly is sleep deprivation.
Sleep deprivation can trigger things like hallucinations and lead to long-lasting effects. PTSD also comes to mind when thinking about this fact.
Viagra Might Reduce the Risk of Developing Alzheimer's by 69%
This fact is kind of depressing: the world spends way too much money on botox and viagra. Like, it spends more on these than funding research for Alzheimer's. Considering that's one of the worst diseases you can be diagnosed with, this fact shows where people's priorities are. However, there might be a bright side here. According to a 2021 study, researchers found that Viagra might reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's by — wait for it — 69%.
Still, researchers need to perform more trials to be sure, and the stat shows that people could be putting much more money out there to find cures for terrible diseases.
Oceans Produce The Majority Of Earth's Oxygen, Not Trees
Oceans and seas produce the majority of the world's oxygen. This might be a surprise considering there are no traditional forests in the ocean. However, the ocean does contain things like kelp and other vegetation. It's also home to plankton, where most of its oxygen is produced. That's right, those tiny little organisms that whales eat also provide most of the world's oxygen, which makes it all the more critical that the oceans are protected.
However, this doesn't mean that forests and trees aren't important. Around 28% of the world's oxygen comes from rainforests, and oceans produce around 70% of the world's oxygen.
Earth Could Be Destroyed At Any Second and We Wouldn't See It Coming
Okay, this is highly unlikely, but it's still within the realm of possibility. Earth could pretty much succumb to a number of different things happening out in space, such as rogue black holes, at pretty much any given second. There's also nothing humanity could do about it in most cases. For example, scientists might be able to see and predict when an asteroid capable of ending life would hit Earth, but it'd probably still get here in one piece.
Luckily, these scenarios are extremely unlikely to happen within our lifetimes, but as long as there is a possibility, all it really takes is enough time to pass.
Capgras Syndrome Makes People Believe Their Loved Ones Are Imposters
Similar to Cotard's Syndrome, something called Capgras Syndrome makes people believe that those closest to them are actually imposters. The syndrome is correlated with dementia, and people who suffer from it basically think that their closest friends' bodies have been replaced by identical ones. When the syndrome has been found in people without dementia, lesions in the right hemisphere of the brain are usually present.
There isn't much more to say about this one besides the fact that this must be terrifying for anyone who suffers from it, and it's another reason to focus on funding research for dementia.
An Eruption in Yellowstone National Park Would Harm the Entire World
When we say Yellowstone National Park is extremely deadly, we aren't talking about its wildlife or the danger of falling into a hot spring. The entire park is one giant supervolcano. That's part of what gives Yellowstone its unique landscape. However, if the volcano were to erupt, it would have consequences for the U.S. and the entire world. The volcano is capable of spewing enough ash to completely alter Earth's climate.
But Yellowstone isn't the only supervolcano in the U.S. There's one in Long Valley, California, and another in the Valles Caldera, New Mexico. However, none are due for an eruption anytime soon, thankfully.
Your Body Doesn't Know You Have Eyes
As much as your body might seem like a well-oiled machine, it's still kind of just a machine. So, the fact that we all have eyes seems to be lost on it. Your body and eyes have two separate immune systems. And when your body's immune system finds out there's another hanging around, it starts attacking it. Yes, your body will literally start attacking your eyes once it discovers them.
If this ever happens, it can lead to vision loss and eventually blindness. In some cases, the eye will even limit its own response in an effort to basically preserve vision.
Pet Chimps Have Mutilated Owners' Faces, Hands, and Private Areas
When we think about why an animal kills, it's usually down to the need for food. However, that isn't always the case with chimps. While they have been known to kill things like monkeys and eat them, they are also known for simply attacking and leaving their victims alive. But they don't just leave them alive; they leave their victims disfigured. Chimps will go for the genitals and hands of other chimps, and there have also been a few cases of chimps attacking and disfiguring humans.
Scientists have observed chimps mauling other chimps in this way and leaving them to die on their own over territory and dominance.
Honey Bees' Genitals Explode After Mating
Technically this one only goes for male drone honey bees, but after they finish mating with a queen, their genitals explode, and they die. It's not the worst way to go, but it's probably pretty terrifying. After one honey bee mates with a queen, another comes and does the same thing. This process repeats for a limited amount of time, and the queen stores the sperm and uses it to fertilize the entire colony.
The whole process is fascinating, but it also sounds like a bummer. Drone male honey bees only mate once, if they're lucky, before eventually going bang.
Some Candy Is Made Out Of Bones
If you've ever had anything containing gelatin, such as marshmallows or even some pill capsules, you've ingested animal bones. Gelatin is made of collagen and crushed-up bones, usually from pigs and cows. Odds are, if you're vegan, you already knew this was the case. But most people don't seem to think about this when eating smores by the campfire. And guess what? That's not the only food that has gelatin.
Some other everyday things that include gelatin are yogurts, cream cheese, gum, sour cream, icing, ice cream, and a whole lot of different things.
Alligators and Crocodiles Can Climb Trees
Yeah, you read that title right. Alligators are able to climb trees. And not just alligators but crocodiles, too (we're looking at you, Australia). The behavior is quite common, and researchers have found that alligators and crocodiles can climb both bent and straight trees vertically. Luckily, this depends on how big the alligator or crocodile is and if they can lift their own mass to climb up.
In another surprise, researchers have recorded smaller hatchlings able to climb vertical brick walls, which means not even your roof is safe from a determined croc or alligator.
Soldiers Mostly Pass Away From Explosive Devices They Never Saw Coming
This one might not be a shock to most, but you know those recruitment and propaganda videos that pretty much every country in the world runs? Well, as a modern soldier, you're more likely to die from a missile you never saw coming than you are to die in battle serving your country. There is nothing glorious or poetic about being taken out before you ever even have a chance to defend yourself.
So, the next time you see a recruitment video that looks like it was taken from Call of Duty gameplay, remember to take it with a grain of salt.
Why You Shouldn't Get Near That Friendly Neighborhood Squirrel
When you think of squirrels, you usually think of them as these cute little rodents that are always on the hunt for nuts. However, they're basically just rats that live in trees. They can carry all of the same diseases, but people treat them differently. There's also a huge problem with grey squirrels replacing native species in Europe. Squirrels can also turn aggressive if they're used to being fed by humans.
It's not uncommon for parks to have to cull squirrels after they become used to food and begin attacking people in search of that food.
There Are A Handful Of Lost Nuclear Weapons
When you think of nuclear weapons, you probably think of ultra-secure silos or skillfully human-crewed submarines. However, the U.S. alone had around 32 nuclear weapon accidents, six of which involved weapons that were still missing or never recovered. The first event occurred in 1950 when a crew, preparing to ditch after engine trouble, dropped their nuclear bomb in the Pacific Ocean. However, there have been a few cases of nuclear bombs being lost in the United States and never being recovered.
This happened for the first time in 1958 in Georgia. A B-47 collided with another plane during a training exercise. After flying around for a while, the pilot was given permission to drop the bomb instead of risk crash landing with it. It reportedly ended up somewhere at the mouth of the Savannah river though it was never recovered.
Our Soil Will Soon Be Infertile
This one has been on the radar of scientists around the world lately, but for our purposes, we're just going to refer to the soil in the Midwest United States. Researchers predict that if people continue farming the land as they are now, then in a couple of generations, the soil will be infertile. This is pretty big considering the Midwest is known for its agriculture. You'd think people would've learned after the Dust Bowl.
However, that doesn't seem to be the case. In addition, a countless amount of valuable topsoil that took decades or longer to form is removed every year to make way for construction.
Someone Is Probably Spying On You Right Now
As much as we try to get away from it, if you own a smartphone, odds are someone is spying on you right now. Like, literally right now while you're reading this. Creeped out yet? There's just no avoiding it, and while we're all pretty much used to it at this point, it's still weird once you really start thinking about it. Almost everything we do now is tracked by corporations.
And if you're not as boring as most of us, then odds are you probably have a couple of government agencies keeping tabs on you as well.
If Aliens Exist, They're Probably Much More Advanced Than Us
Humans are so far from being able to traverse the galaxy that it makes you pause and think for a second just how advanced alien life would have to be to visit us. We mean, we aren't doing too bad for ourselves. We have planes, we've been to the moon, and we're now the top species on our planet. However, if aliens were to visit Earth, we'd probably view them in a similar fashion as a caveman would view the modern world.
Also, if they had the technology to travel all this way, they could easily observe us without being detected. We're unsure where cloaking fits in on the technology scale, but it probably takes less than galaxy-level travel.
Driving Is Much More Dangerous Than We Realize
Even though many people drive daily, especially if you happen to live in the U.S., we don't often consider it dangerous. Sure, we know there's always the possibility of an accident. However, it's actually much riskier than you might think. The odds of dying in a car accident during your lifetime are 1 in 107. It's not guaranteed, but it's still a number that's a bit too close for comfort.
You also don't have to be going very fast for an accident to result in a fatality. Most car accidents actually happen when people are going relatively slow.
People Once Could Connect to Any Random Dell User's Laptop
Before Dell went back to being a private company, they caught a lot of flak for shipping overpriced computers and stuffing in packages people didn't really need. They also had a big problem with security, so much so that there was once a site setup that would let people connect to a random Dell user's laptop. The problem stemmed from the propriety software they used to ship their computers with.
Luckily today, the issue is essentially fixed, and their no more hackable than any other PC, which is to say you should probably still cover your webcam with tape when not in use.
There's A Nuke Out There Targeting Your City
Another fact people don't often think about but if you live in or near a city, then odds are there's a nuclear missile with your city's coordinates on it. Although there have been relatively few documents leaked that contain actual targets, there are more than 12,000 nuclear warheads still in use. There have also been an alarming number of near misses during and since the Cold War. This has led people to develop some freaky predictions.
So many, in fact, that some think it's simply a matter of if and not when a miscalculation will occur, leading to an all-out nuclear war.
Most People Don't Know They Have a Parasite Until This Scary Thing Happens
Perhaps one of the most terrifying things about parasites is just the thought of something living inside your body undetected. And undetected they usually go. However, aside from coming out of you the usual way, some are capable of popping out of skin and eyes. The recognizable of these parasites include things like scabies, but there are also types of worm-like parasites that must be removed through the skin.
Thelazia gulosa is a small worm that can get into and crawl around in your eyelid. The parasite actually feeds on your tears, which is both disturbing and kind of fitting.
Sneezing a Certain Way Can Cause a Hole in Your Throat
Most people would probably agree that sneezes pack a punch. But they pack so much of a punch that they can end up causing some serious injuries, especially if you try to stifle them. Sneezes have the power to break ribs, throw out backs, and damage blood vessels. They can also cause damage to the head if you try to hold one in. The reason for this is pretty simple.
There is some component of your respiratory system in most areas of your body. Sneezes put pressure on all these areas, and when that pressure isn't released when it needs to be, it can cause damage.
A Third of U. S. Murders Are Unsolved
This might come as a shock, considering they usually get their guy on crime shows, and we now have modern forensics, but around a third of homicides go unsolved. And that depends on the source. The FBI puts this number slightly higher at around 40%. That fact is a bit unnerving, but even more so when you consider that number is rising. CBS reported that in the U.S., closer to half of all murders were unsolved in 2020. For comparison, police reported solving around 7 in 10 murders in the 1960s and 1970s.
People have blamed the rise on a lack of homicide detectives and the absence of trust between police and communities. It probably doesn't help that many courts in the U.S. are backed up, either.
The Human Body Contains Gold, Silver, and Platinum
Just about every human on Earth has very small amounts of gold, silver, and platinum in their bodies. The amount is extremely small, but if you were to (hypothetically) gather up enough people and extract the minerals from them, then you could melt it down and make a gold bar. Of course, this is just all hypothetical, and we're not encouraging anyone to go out there and start extracting gold and platinum.
It's estimated that, on average, people have about 0.2 milligrams of gold in them, meaning everyone is technically worth at least a couple of cents (unless prices drop).
Ducks Can Become Cannibalistic
This fact applies to all ducks but especially young ducklings. When a duck gets bored or overcrowded, it can become cannibalistic. People don't know exactly why this occurs among ducks (and some other birds), but it might have something to do with dominance. When ducks peck to establish dominance, it can escalate into full-fledged cannibalism. Another strange fact about ducks is that mating is definitely not consensual sometimes.
So, yes, if it weren't for how adorable ducks look, humans would probably consider them to be pretty violent and cruel towards their fellow animals.
Chronic Wasting Disease Would Turn Humans Into Zombies
Chronic Wasting Disease is a neurological disease that affects things like deer and elk in North and South America. The disease basically does what it sounds like. It causes deer to waste away. They can stop eating, drool excessively, and can even lose their fear of humans and turn aggressive. However, the real fear is of the disease jumping to humans as there is no cure. Luckily, it is not known to be able to jump directly to humans, but scientists do believe it could jump to other mammals, like monkeys.
So much so that the CDC and other agencies frequently send out bulletins advising hunters to take precautions when there's an outbreak. The World Health Organization has also prioritized keeping diseases like wasting and mad cow from jumping on humans.
Hippos Can't Swim
Yeah, you read that right. Hippos can't swim, and you may or may not find this disturbing, but we certainly did. Hippos walk along the bottom of ponds, rivers, and streams. Why do you often see them with their heads popped above the surface? Well, they're just standing upright on their hind legs. If you look it up online, you will get conflicting information, but we're getting our source from Sir David Attenborough, so we're going with him.
Hippos can also sleep when underwater and rise to the surface for air while they're still asleep. In addition, they're pretty much responsible for creating waterways through vegetation in some parts of Africa through their constant walking on the bottom of flooded areas.
Pandas Will Eat Carcasses
It turns out that bamboo isn't all pandas will munch on. If they come across a new carcass, then they'll gladly make it a meal. However, the practice is quite rare, and it's only been filmed a couple of times. Pandas have been known to hunt small rodents but usually nothing very big. However, it makes sense because pandas still have the digestive tract of a carnivore, and other bears are primarily carnivores.
Another surprising fact is that pandas survive mostly on protein despite eating primarily bamboo. In a similar fashion to humans getting protein from nuts, pandas get theirs from bamboo.
Body Integrity Identity Disorder Causes People To Want Amputations
This disease is actually pretty creepy. Body integrity disorder can cause people to strongly desire an amputation. It's rare, but it can cause some people to mutilate themselves or ask doctors for amputations even though there is nothing physically wrong with them. There is also no known treatment for the disorder. The causes aren't fully understood, but one study found that brain scans suggest it has something to do with the brain.
People with this disorder can basically feel like one or more of their limbs are foreign and shouldn't be there. Even the idea of having this particular disorder gives us shudders.