12 Prehistoric Bits of Trivia We’ve Managed to Resurrect for Our Trivia Theme Park
This is some futuristic technology we’re talking about here. Very pricey stuff, as we’ve spared no expense. We were able to capture the incomplete DNA of these ancient bits of trivia from chunks of amber, and fill in the gaps with some frog protein. Then we just kinda started 3D printing these bad boys like there was no tomorrow.
We know what you’re thinking, and don’t worry: They’re all female, so there’s no way they can reproduce. We’ve got this thing under control!
The British Hangman Who Never Quite Got the Hang of Hanging
William Calcraft was a 19th-century executioner who put in five decades on the job, killed about 450 people and could not stop messing up. He botched hangings (with one lasting as long as an hour), beheadings (he wasn’t very good at sharpening his axe) and burning people at the stake (he was so bad at building fires, his victims often died of smoke inhalation before the actual fire got them).
The Social Network That Used Soundwaves Instead of Wi-Fi
Chirp was an app that converted image and text files to soundwaves, which could be transmitted between smartphones close enough to send and receive audio frequencies. The company that created it worked with Activision Blizzard at one point, and was later absorbed by Sonos.
Somebody Stole the Holy Foreskin
There are several weird little bits of ancient flesh that people claim to be Jesus’ foreskin. One of them was embedded in a golden cross, kept in Rome for a while, then brought to the small town of Calcata, where they’d throw it a whole big celebration once a year. It was stolen in 1983 — and lots of people believe the Catholic Church itself absconded with it, as it had gotten sick of people worshiping the remnants of baby Jesus’ weenie.
Ammonites Really Threw Ancient People for a Loop
Ammonites are extinct little snail-squid guys who very commonly show up as fossils. The Greeks thought they were little ram horns, and named them after the horned Egyptian god Ammon. Ancient Chinese people called them “horn stones.” The Vikings believed they were the offspring of their gigantic snake god, Jörmungandr. It took a long time to find full fossils showing their very squid-like bodies.
A Grizzly Bear Can Smell You From 18 Miles Away
Their incredibly sensitive noses can do stuff our olfactory cortex can’t even dream of, like smelling clams buried in dirt, and even detecting fish underwater. Polar bears’ noses are even crazier — they can smell a seal from 40 miles away.
Lucretius Thought Erections Operated Like Divining Rods
Poet and Epicurean philosopher Lucretius believed that men contain a physical seed within them, and that, when you’re aroused, “the organs are stimulated and swollen by the seed,” which tries to move toward the object of your desire. This happens whether that person is in the room with you or not. His solution is to “vent the seed of your love upon other objects,” which sounds like it involves more cleanup than it’s worth.
A French Inventor Wanted to Communicate With Mars via a Global System of Mirrors
There was a pretty cool stretch of time, right after telescopes became powerful enough to see the surface of Mars, when everyone thought there was a whole bustling population of aliens living there. French inventor Charles Cros proposed installing a network of gigantic mirrors across our planet, so we could flash Morse code-like messages to the Martians. He petitioned the French government for funding until his dying day.
The Bay Area’s 19th-Century Party Island Is Now a Ghost Town
Drawbridge, California is a small island near San Francisco that started with a population of one: the guy whose job it was to operate the swing bridges that would control train and boat traffic. Rail passengers began camping out at the otherwise uninhabited island to hunt, and soon there was an entire economy around hotels, brothels and illegal alcohol. The party finally died when the bigger cities nearby started dumping sewage into the water.
Two Bank Robbers Thought Dousing Their Faces in Lemon Juice Would Obscure Their Identities
Macarthur Wheeler and Clifton Johnson, upon learning that lemon juice could be used as “invisible ink,” decided that dunking their heads in lemon juice would keep them from appearing in security cameras. They even tested their hypothesis with a Polaroid picture (that likely gave the illusion of invisibility because they had it pointed the wrong way). They were in utter shock when they were caught, with one of them saying, “But I wore the lemon juice!” This episode is what inspired David Dunning and Justin Kruger to study just what it is that makes idiots overestimate their competence.
The Plan to Dam the Mediterranean Sea
German architect Herman Sorgel believed that the hydroelectric power generated by damming up an entire sea would solve the world’s energy problems, thereby ending all wars in Europe and Africa. He dedicated his life to getting the project off the ground, but no government was interested in shelling out the cash to support it.
Michael Jackson Almost Played Peter Pan
Before it became Hook, there was a Steven Spielberg Peter Pan movie in the works that was supposed to star Michael Jackson. When the money people got involved, they gave it a $20 million budget (which was never going to work, as Jackson was already asking for $10 million himself). The project later evolved into Hook, but Jackson wasn’t interested in playing a grown-up.
Some Birds Practice Herbal Medicine
Some species of bird like to adorn their nest with the occasional nice-smelling leafy herb, but the blue tit in particular has gotten great at decorating with plants that fight off bacteria and blowfly infestations.