Listomania – Over 1,200 fun facts organized by lists


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Aw, that’s the Britannica Junior Encyclopedia in the background. Good times.

Errata: There are no known violin strings made from cat tissues. The cat part of the word catgut is either an abbreviation of cattle, or it refers to the smallness of the prepared tissue.

Wikipedia has sources:

Ahem Over 1,200 fun “facts” organized by lists.

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Back in high school there was a kid who would memorize the lists in The Book of Lists… You could turn to just about any page and ask him and he could, at the very least, rattle off the the first 3.

The Book of Lists Book by Amy Wallace and David Wallechinsky The Book of Lists refers to any one of a series of books compiled by David Wallechinsky, his father Irving Wallace and sister Amy Wallace. Wikipedia

The Galápagos Tortoise was one of the species Darwin got to nibble on, and that was at the time they were still really available. That’s true even though they were already being harvested to keep aboard ships as live food for whalers and pirates. The Beagle took 30 tortoises with it to Polynesia upon leaving the Galápagos islands.

In fact, the tortoises’ downfall was that they were so big, meaty, and tasty. They were so yummy that they didn’t survive trips to be brought back to Britain for display in zoos. We humans ate them into apparent extinction in a very short time - only traces of them remain in genetic hybrids still alive on the Galápagos.


I thought that one of Darwin’s just died in Australia?

Ah, here she is – Harriet probably was not Darwin’s:

She was reportedly collected by Charles Darwin during his 1835 visit to the Galápagos Islands as part of his round-the-world survey expedition, transported to England, and then brought to her final home, Australia, by a retiring captain of the Beagle. However, some doubt was cast on this story by the fact that Darwin had never visited the island that Harriet originally came from.
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:slight_smile: Harriet is one of the subspecies tortoises from an island that Darwin didn’t visit himself. I was writing about Chelonoidis elephantopus (the largest of them) which went extinct as a pure species just a few years after Darwin visited.

Hybrids still exist in the Galápagos islands.

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One of my favourite clips from QI is about them.


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