The World’s First Farmers

antsThese are Leafcutter Ants, a name given to over 47 species of ant which are native to the tropical rainforests of South America.

They cut up leaves and carry bits of them back to their nest, the obvious reason for this might be that they eat the leaves, but what actually happens is a bit more interesting.

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Pablo Escobar’s Bloat of Hippos

pablopotamusWhen he died in 1993, Pablo Escobar was one of the wealthiest men in the entire world. He made Forbes’ list of international billionaires for seven years straight. His drug empire was worth an estimated $30 billion and, by the end of the 80’s, he supplied 80% of the worlds cocaine.

With this wealth he owned an estate in Antioquia in Columbia. This estate held a private airport, a bullring, a cart racing track, sculpture garden, a collection of dinosaur skeletons and a private zoo filled with various exotic animals including elephants, zebras, giraffes and four hippos, three females and one male.

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You Can’t Smell Gas

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Natural Gas is odorless. It is comprised mainly of methane which does not smell, however when you turn on the gas on your stove it gives off a very strong stench!

This is because of a chemical known as Mercaptan (also known as Thiol). This is added to Natural gas in order to make it smell! It is a harmless gas which is a waste product of normal metabolism and is found naturally in living organisms.

The chemical features very few useful qualities, bar one, it gives off an incredibly pungent smell. Even in the smallest quantities the human nose can still detect it. It is the world’s smelliest substance and is unbearable in its concentrated form.

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The Misinformed Mongoose Invasion of Hawaii

145359In Hawaii in the 1800’s the sugar industry was facing problems from the growing rat population which was eating through their sugar plantations and costing them a lot of money. In order to try and control the rat population, a predator was introduced to the islands, in 1833 Mongooses, which are originally native to India, were let loose in the fields of Hawaii to end the rat threat to the agriculture.

However this decision seemed to be incredibly misinformed, rats are a nocturnal animal which means they are only active at night and spend the days hidden away in nests, however the Mongoose is diurnal, which means they only hunt in the daytime and nest at night so the two animals would never encounter each other!

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The Smouldering Ghost Town of Centralia

centralia-45Founded in 1862 the mining town of Centralia in Pennsylvania was created due to the demand for coal as a primary fuel source, throughout the 19th and 20th Century a mass web of mines, tunnels and underground gangways were constructed to get at the coal resources deep under ground. It is estimated that 95% of Anthracite coal (a very high energy form of coal) is located underneath Pennsylvania and there was an estimated 25 million tons of it under the town of Centralia.

However during the mid 20th century the demand for coal reduced in favour of other fuels such as gas and oil and the vast web of mines underneath the town of Centralia were eventually abandoned.

On the 27th May 1962 the mine shafts under Centralia caught fire, it is still debated how the fire initially caught ablaze but the main assumption is that a fire was purposely ignited in an attempt to clear up a rubbish tip, beneath this rubbish tip was a hidden mineshaft entrance where the fire began to slowly wind its way through the labyrinth of underground mines beneath the town.

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Why do we have Christmas trees?

treeresizedThe roots of why we put up trees in our living room and decorate them with trimmings stems from old pagan rituals and not from Christianity. German pagans used to decorate their houses with evergreen conifer tree branches during the winter solstice to remind them of the Spring to come.

The Ancient Romans also used to decorate their temples during the winter solstice at the festival of Saturnalia (the Roman predecessor to Christmas) with branches of fir trees. As they have green needles all year round, evergreen trees were used in multiple old religions around the world to symbolise eternal life including ancient Egyptians, the Chinese and Hebrews.

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The Worlds Only Cornish Pasty Museum is in Mexico

Cornish-pasty-007In the Mexican mountain town of Real De Monte, over 4500 miles away from Cornwall and the home of the Cornish pasty, exists the worlds only museum dedicated to the savoury snack.

The Cornish pasty came to Mexico in in 1824 when miners and their families from Cornwall came across to assist with the local silver mining industry. When they moved across they not only brought their mining expertise and equipment but also brought their keen taste for pasties and the knowledge of how to make them, which caught on quickly with the local community. Cornish wives would teach their maids how to create the pasties who in turn made their own for their own family.

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