You can’t die from lack of sleep. Except when a genetic mutation prevents you from sleeping at all.
Animals have some of the best old-timey disease names, including heartwater, foulbrood, bluetongue, glanders, scrapie, camelpox, and bumblefoot.
The historian A. Roger Ekirch has argued that in Medieval Europe, and in many places prior to the Industrial Revolution, people would habitually wake up for an hour in the middle of the night.
When a human dies, they go through several distinct stages. In order: pale, cold, stiff, mottled, putrefied, decomposed, skeletonized.
The use of the anti-inflammatory drug Diclofenac on cattle led – very indirectly – to the rise of rabies and leopards in India. And it’s all because of vultures.
Polydactyly – the presence of extra fingers and toes – is especially common in cats. And it’s all thanks to Ernest Hemingway and Sonic the Hedgehog.
In 2008 archaeologists dug up a 2,800-year-old skull in Yorkshire, and discovered an extremely well preserved brain still inside.
A woman walks down a street at night. The scene is silent but for her footsteps. Suddenly there’s a hiss and scream like a wild cat… but it’s only a bus. This is Cat People, the first sound film to use a jump scare.
Beginning in 1976 a pseudoscientific pamphlet spread like wildfire across Europe, stating that many common food additives caused cancer – including cellulose and citric acid.
Since 2000, millions of hours of computer time have been donated by people around the world to determine how proteins fold in the human body. This may help to understand and treat Alzheimer’s, cancer, HIV, flu, and the coronavirus.
Old people smell different – and a few studies have posited a chemical basis for that difference.
Mantis shrimp have the best eyes of the animal kingdom: they can see a wider range of colours than any other creature, from ultraviolet nearly all the way through to infra-red.
Dr. Oguntola Sapara suspected skulduggery from the influential priests of Sopona, the Yoruba god of smallpox. He was right.
In southern and south-eastern Asia and the Pacific, teeth were blackened or lacquered to keep them intact and healthy.
The heart symbol may have originated with an ancient Roman form of birth control, a plant that is probably now extinct.