Between 1746 and 1792, seventeen students of Carl Linnaeus set out across the globe to collect plant and animal samples for his new taxonomy. Seven of these apostles died on the trip, and one would betray Linnaeus.
On August 21, 1986, seventeen hundred people who lived around Lake Nyos in Cameroon suffocated overnight – victims of an extremely rare and silent natural disaster.
The phrase “Here Be Dragons” actually appears only once on a historical map, on the early 16th century Hunt-Lenox Globe. And actual dragons live there.
Between 1941 and 1943 Germany broadcast propaganda jazz music with altered lyrics into Britain.
In 1875, trillions (yes, trillions) of Rocky Mountain locusts swarmed over the western United States. Thirty years later, they were extinct.
The 40,000km-long Incan road system connected 12 million people, but it also supplied the Incan army with food from thousands of storage depots spread across the whole network.
The first author whose name we know was Enheduanna. Daughter of Sargon the Great, she wrote religious hymns, so she can also lay claim to being the first named poet in history.
Wall Street in New York City is named after one of two things: the Walloons, early Dutch settlers… or a literal wall to defend against the Algonquian peoples angry over the slaughter of 120 local Weckquaesgeek.
In the Domesday Book of 1086 the economic value of forests is not measured in the amount of wood they could provide, but in the amount of pigs they could feed.
In Norse mythology Fimbulwinter is the great winter immediately preceding Ragnarök. It may have been inspired by the horrifying real-life events of 536 CE.
How do politicians court the violent fringe? Dog whistles and scripted violence.
The Anglo-Zanzibar War of 1896 lasted around forty-five minutes, making it the shortest war in history.
The Vatican City has the shortest national railway line in the world, but it almost had none at all.
Who keeps the metric system down? In the United States, pirates do.
In 1862, between a third and half of the entire population of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) were kidnapped by Peruvian slavers.