Humans have been making figurative art for at least forty thousand years – but we may have been carrying “found” art around for much longer.
Before we knew about plate tectonics, a zoologist proposed a lost continent connecting Madagascar and India across the Indian Ocean. That hypothesis, now debunked, was nevertheless picked up by Theosophists and Tamil revivalists.
In 1822 a white stork landed in Klütz, then a town of the German Confederation, and finally unlocked the secret of where the birds go in winter.
A stand of trees dead for six hundred years stick out of the Namib Desert in the claypan called the Deadvlei.
In apartheid-era South Africa, the government sometimes designated specific people or whole ethnic groups as “honorary whites.” But not everyone accepted it.
In October 1977, Ali Maow Maalin was the last person to contract naturally occurring smallpox. He died thirty six years later while coordinating a polio vaccination drive.
In 1976 most African countries boycotted the Olympics because the games would not ban New Zealand.
Bir Tawil is a wedge of land between Egypt and Sudan. Neither wants to claim Bir Tawil: it is one of the only unclaimed territories in the world.
The pyramid of Amanishakheto stood for nearly two thousand years, until an Italian looter blew it up.
The French mercenary Bob Denard overthrew the government of the Comoros four times: in 1975, 1978, 1989, and 1995.
In 2017 Nigerian musician Femi Kuti set the world record for longest sustained saxophone note: fifty-one minutes and thirty-five seconds.
John Newton was a press-ganged sailor, a slave, a slave-ship captain, an Anglican priest, an abolitionist, and the author of the hymn “Amazing Grace.”
The Central African hairy frog can break its own bones and stick them through its skin as impromptu claws.
The Ishango bone, found in what is today part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and dating back 20,000 years, may contain some of the earliest evidence of mathematical thought.
From the 15th to the 19th century CE, the Akan used sets of ornate statues as a measurement system for weighing gold dust, but also encoding and reinforcing cultural knowledge at the same time.
In 1377 the Tunisian Arab historian Ibn Khaldun listed seven mistakes made by contemporary scholars, and then he made the same mistakes.