59 “Did You Know” Facts That Are Almost Hard to Believe
Finally, explanations for things you never stopped to think about twice.
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We bet you didn’t know these
“Did you know” facts are everywhere, and you might start to hear some over and over again, on the back of a Snapple cap or something. Yes, you know that Napoleon wasn’t really that short and that frogs don’t drink. But, for your brain-food pleasure, here’s a plethora of “did you know” facts that you probably haven’t heard before. And for more cool trivia, here are 100 interesting facts about basically everything.
Did you know each insect is a host to ten bacterial species?
There are around 2 billion species on Earth—with 6.8 million likely to be species of insects. And up to 10 types of bacteria lives inside of each of these insects! Here are more bizarre bug facts that will totally freak you out.
Did you know Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are incredibly distant cousins?
The old wives’ tale that we’re attracted to people who look like our parents may be debatable, but the Duke and Duchess of Sussex share more than just a marriage. Apparently, they share an ancestor dating 15 generations back. But they’re not the first royals to be married and related—here are more royals who married their relatives. Plus, check out these less disturbing “did you know” facts about the British royal family.
Did you know instrument strings were made from animals?
The strings of string instruments were originally made from the guts of animals like sheep or lambs. Now, instrument makers have transitioned to metal wiring. But before metal, it was common for all string instruments to be made from the guts of the animals geographically available to the makers. Find out more disturbing facts you’ll wish weren’t true.
Did you know there were male engagement rings once?
You know the story: The man spends a small fortune for a ring, kneels, and pops the question. Well, in 1926, jewelers paired with advertisers to sell the concept of the man-gagement ring. The male engagement rings had names like the Pilot, the Stag and the Master. For another “did you know” fact, this is why we wear wedding rings on the fourth finger.
Did you know Queen Elizabeth II keeps track of when she wore each outfit?
It’s rumored that Queen Elizabeth never wears the same hat twice. If she does, she waits years to wear one again, and evidently, there’s a spreadsheet recording her exact outfit each day. So, what does she do with all of those hats? A one-time-only exhibit showcased the many hats and handbags she wore during public engagements. If you couldn’t make it to that exhibit, this epic timeline of Queen Elizabeth’s wackiest hats will fill you in.
Did you know some common hand gestures are offensive in other countries?
The “devil horns” hand sign seen thrown up at rock concerts can be offensive in other countries. In European and South American countries, this hand sign implies that a man’s wife has been unfaithful. The meaning dates back to the etymological meaning of “cuckold” which is “horned” in Italian, Spanish, and Greek. Here are more common hand gestures that you should definitely not make in certain places.
Did you know 40 percent of human jobs could be replaced by AI in the future?
In about 20 years, the future could look eerily similar to Wall-E. Artificial intelligence expert Kai-Fu Lee said that 40 percent of human jobs could be replaced by equally capable robots. And drivers might be affected the most. Luckily, there are plenty of cool new jobs you could have in the future.
Did you know Disneyland has an underground tunnel system?
There are lots of quirky things that some think are underneath Disney parks, but these literally are! The tunnels were built in response to characters having to run through other lands to get to their posts, which spoiled the magic. Thanks to the tunnels, you won’t see a Tomorrowland spaceman in the Old West–inspired Frontierland. Find out whether more Disney Park rumors are true or false.
Did you know your body loses up to 8 percent of water on a flight?
Water is our body’s mechanical oil—without it, it can’t function. You lose about 8 percent of your body water while on a flight. This is because the humidity in the climate-controlled environment can be as low as 10 to 15 percent. Check out these 50 airplane facts you’ve always been curious about.
Did you know wind on Mars is audible?
You’ll want your bass-heavy headphones for this one. Sensors on the NASA InSight lander on Mars picked up the first recorded sounds of Martian wind through vibrations. The wind can be heard at a decibel within human range with the help of headphones.
Did you know your skin sheds?
The current skin you’re in will be gone in a month—our skin sheds 30,000 to 40,000 skin cells each day. In fact, over 100 of those cells probably flaked off while you were reading this sentence. However, it rejuvenates just as quickly as it deteriorates. Regular exfoliation twice a week helps get rid of lingering skin cells to make room for a fresh layer. Find out more bizarre human body features you didn’t know existed.
Did you know trees can communicate?
Trees talk. Their roots are connected through an underground network of fungi, nicknamed the “Wood Wide Web,” that allows them to share resources with each other. They “talk” by transmitting nutrients to one another through the fungi. For instance, a mother tree, or oldest and strongest tree in the forest, will share some of her sugars with smaller, nearby trees.
Did you know you can use willow bark for pain relief instead of aspirin?
The secret to pain relief may be in your backyard. For centuries, willow bark has been used as an alternative to aspirin. The active ingredient in the bark, salicyl, turns to salicylic acid and is more gentle on the stomach than over-the-counter aspirin. But before you throw out all of your aspirin, here’s 7 household aspirin uses you never knew about.
Did you know people rarely used to smile in photos?
Why do people smile when they have their photo taken? Smiling in photos is said to have originated from a Kodak advertising scheme that focused on capturing moments of happiness with the product. Since then, it’s been the norm to grin into the camera. A study comparing yearbook photos from 1905 to 2005 showed an increase of lip curvature over time. Learn more about why we started smiling—and saying “cheese”—in photos.
Did you know the longest human neck is over seven inches?
The longest human necks extend to 7.7 inches, belonging to women in the Padaung tribe in the highlands of northwestern Thailand. This is about twice the length of an average human neck. As a cultural practice, the tribe fashions heavy brass rings on a female’s neck from the ages of five to nine and add more as she ages. If you’re into these “did you know” facts, try some of these random trivia facts you’ll wish you knew sooner.
Did you know the first documentary was staged?
What’s widely credited as the first documentary, Nanook of the North, was not true. Most of the film was staged—including its cast and surroundings. Although it “blazed cinematic trails” for its time, most of the film is full of “faking and fudging in one form or another,” as said in Criterion.
Did you know the lighter professional competitive eaters are, the better?
You’d think that the bigger the stomach, the more hot dogs would be able to fit, right? Not quite. Popular Science expanded on the theory that lighter contestants can out-eat their heavier competitors. The reasoning behind this is that a skinny person has room for their stomach to expand without being blocked by a ring of fat. Here are more “did you know” facts about competitive eaters that’ll gross you out.
Did you know Elvis didn’t write “Blue Suede Shoes”?
Instead, the “pioneer of rockabilly music” Carl Perkins wrote the illustrious song that sold two million copies before Presley covered it, according to the LA Times. According to Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Wise Up!, Perkins wrote the song on an old potato sack.
Did you know the longest breath held underwater is 24:03 minutes?
That’s the typical amount of time it takes to watch one episode of The Office. But in 2016, professional freediver Aleix Segura Vendrell set this world record in a breathtaking attempt (literally). Check out the wackiest world record in every state.
Did you know lions are identifiable through their whisker patterns?
Like humans and fingerprints, each lion has a whisker pattern unique to their nose, according to the New York Times. Back in the late ’60s, researchers conducted a whisker hole identification method that involved overlapping photographs of lions’ noses with a standard grid. Here are 60 fun facts about animals you didn’t know before.
Did you know there’s a 50,000-word novel without the letter “E”?
Gadsby is a lipogram, or a novel written without using a letter or letters. In the case of Gadsby, written by Ernest Vincent Wright in 1939, that letter is “E.” Check out a fun fact about each letter of the alphabet.
Did you know you can tell if an egg is old based on whether it floats in water?
It sounds phony, but it’s time-tested. If an egg floats when you set it in water, then it’s old; if it sinks, it’s a fresher egg and you’re good to go. If eggs could talk, here’s what they would tell you!
Did you know before 1920, some people used to send children in the mail?
Because postage was cheaper than a train ticket, according to Smithsonian, some frugal parents chose this option. Newspapers ran amusing headlines, such as “Baby by Parcel Post” and “Parcel Post Baby Makes Trip Along L & E Railroad.” (It’s forbidden today.) That’s definitely among the craziest things people have ever shipped.
Did you know blinking could serve as mental rest, not eye lubrication?
The intuitive reason why humans blink so much, 15 to 20 times per minute, is for eye lubrication. But research suggests that it’s actually to give our brains a break. Although these breaks only last for a few seconds, they could be giving the brain a chance to go idle and recharge. These 12 “facts” about our brains just aren’t true.
Did you know you can survive in space without a suit?
Well, only for about 15 seconds. It takes that long for humans to lose consciousness in space due to lack of oxygen to the brain. In 1965, a technician was inside a vacuum chamber and accidentally depressurized his suit. After 12 to 15 seconds he lost consciousness, but his suit was repressurized at 27 seconds. According to Scientific American, the man recalled “the moisture on his tongue beginning to boil as well as a loss of taste sensation that lingered for four days following the accident.” Here are some more “did you know” facts about space.
Did you know there’s a secret vault that holds nearly every type of crop seed?
It’s the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, located in one of the coldest corners of the world: an island on the Svalbard archipelago, between Norway and the North Pole. This remote location allows the natural permafrost cooling necessary for proper storage of the world’s largest collection of crop diversity. If the zombie apocalypse were to become a reality, or just if farmers’ fields start to dry out, this seed vault would come to the rescue.
Did you know the computer virus Stuxnet has been able to cause physical damage?
Stuxnet is the MVP of computer viruses as it’s able to “[escape] the digital realm to wreak physical destruction on equipment the computers controlled,” per WIRED. Also, according to National Geographic, it’s been able to unlock computer-controlled locks in prisons.
Did you know corn, rice, and wheat make up most of the world’s staple foods?
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, these three simple, yet vital, ingredients make up the world’s staple foods and provide the majority of the world’s calorie intake.
Did you know American men spend more time on leisure activities than women?
A 2018 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report says that daily, men spend 49 minutes more doing leisure activities than women. The study found that on average, men spend 5.7 hours a day engaged in leisure activities, compared with 4.9 hours for women. That’s not on our list of ways women still aren’t equal to men, but definitely warrants mentioning.
Did you know why we yawn?
The most popular, but likely wrong, theory is that yawning increases levels of oxygen to the brain. A more plausible theory: Yawning cools the brain down. A study conducted on mice found that as mice sucked in air, their jaws stretched—this increases blood flow to the brain. This combination of cooler air intake when yawning mixed with the blood flowing to the brain is thought to eventually cool the brain down.
Did you know viruses are not alive?
Viruses are not living things—they are inanimate and do not have cells. This means that they “cannot turn food into energy, and without a host, they are just inert packets of chemicals,” according to Discover Magazine.
Did you know “C” is the most common key used in pop songs?
A man analyzed 1,300 songs from the Top 100 charts in pursuit of patterns. As for chords, he discovered that the most common key in music is C, ranking at 26 percent. Popular songs in the key of C include Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man” and “Take Me to Church” by Hozier.
Did you know stuntwomen get more beat up than stuntmen?
Clothing like skirts, tank tops, and high heels makes the job that much harder for women than for men. A man’s suit can be easily padded, while bare legs cannot. One stuntwoman even admitted to using gel petals under her skinny jeans for knee pads. Yikes! Women’s super-unrealistic action-related behavior made our list of ways movies are nothing like real life.
Did you know goats have emotional intelligence?
Research shows that goats are socially aware of the environment they’re in. They can “differentiate between other goats’ happiness or displeasure by listening to their voices,” according to National Geographic. Check out these other “facts” about animals you might have wrong.
Did you know Hogwarts would look like an abandoned building to Muggles?
Hailing all Harry Potter fans! If Muggles came across Hogwarts, it would only appear to look like an abandoned building with a “Keep Out: Dangerous” sign on it. Check out these other hidden messages in Harry Potter books you never noticed.
Did you know turtles snack on jellyfish tentacles?
Apparently a fairly nutritious snack, jellyfish can be prey to young green sea turtles. As they age, green sea turtles become more herbivorous and stray away from eating just anything. In this video, you can see a young green sea turtle munch down on jellyfish tentacles and swim away. Here are more weirdly fascinating facts about jellyfish.
Did you know the fastest reptile is the sea turtle?
Marlin and Dory had a wild ride when they went for a cruise on Crush’s back. And it seems that scene has a basis in truth: Sea turtles can swim as fast as 35 mph.
Did you know why our skin gets wrinkly in the water?
After about five minutes in the bathtub, you begin to notice that tiny wrinkles are forming on your hands and feet. Why is that? Researchers speculate that it’s the body’s biological way of getting a grip when in a slippery condition. And they found that the specific ways that human skin wrinkles are similar to river drainage systems.
Did you know that finger length can predict attractiveness?
Your palm reader might not be too far off when they say that finger length and ratios suggest facial attractiveness in men. If a man’s ring finger is longer than his index finger, then he’s more likely to have a more attractive face, per the Atlantic.
Did you know Stonehenge used to be in a circular formation?
It wasn’t until 2014 that a drought exposed an apparent circular outline of Stonehenge. Though it’s now a semi-circle in shape, marks that may have signaled where stones might’ve been have given some credence to the idea that Stonehenge was originally a fully formed circle in shape. Learn about some ancient mysteries that have yet to be solved.
Did you know mountain goats are not in the goat family?
You goat-ta believe it: Mountain goats are not goats, but are goat-antelopes, according to National Geographic. These curious creatures can also jump about 12 feet in one jump. Can you tell the difference between these nearly identical animals?
Did you know most of the Earth’s freshwater is stored in glaciers and icecaps?
Nearly 70 percent of Earth’s freshwater is stored in the coldest spots on the globe: in glaciers and icecaps.
Did you know the game of Go is the oldest?
This simple-looking yet mind-boggling game is said to be the oldest strategy game that’s still played. According to the American Go Association, the game originated in China anywhere from 2,500 to 4,000 years ago. Check out more fascinating “did you know” facts about your favorite games.
Did you know the Mississippi River inspired a painting?
Speaking of long, the Mississippi River inspired one of the longest paintings in the world. Panorama of the Mississippi, by 19th-century American artist John Banvard, was 1,200 feet long. Unfortunately, after his death, Banvard’s famous panorama may have been cut up for theatre backdrops. Check out these secret messages hidden in famous paintings.
Did you know the word “brownie” was first used in print in 1500?
Although the context of the earliest use of the word is unknown, today it could be referring to these three alternative meanings: the sweet treat we all know and love, a good-natured elf, or a Girl Scouts member. Sadly, no one from the 1500s is around to specify.
Did you know an Alaskan town goes dark for over 60 days?
The residents of Barrow, Alaska, must be the most avid consumers of vitamin D supplements, because their town sees darkness for about 65 days of the year. The 65 days of darkness, known as polar night, is due to their geographical location above the Arctic Circle. Here are some geography facts everyone gets wrong.
Did you know Bill Gates’ business partner out-performed him on the SAT?
While Bill Gates scored 1590, his business partner, Paul Allen, soared past him at a perfect 1600. Take a look at some ironic “failures” of wildly successful people.
Did you know matcha contains eight times more caffeine than green tea?
If you need an extra boost in the morning, we suggest reaching for green tea’s mighty cousin: matcha. One cup of matcha, a type of green tea, packs in 280 mg of caffeine, while traditional green tea contains a meek 35mg. This is eight times the regular amount.
Did you know the oldest surviving love poem was forgotten until 1951?
Written in 2,000 BC, the world’s oldest love poem was stored unimportantly in a museum drawer in Turkey—until Sumerologist Samuel Noah Kramer saw it. The world’s oldest love poem, etched into a clay tablet, tells a tale of beauty and love, themes that persist in modern poems. Not so much in these funny poems that will perk up your day, though.
Did you know the most used computer password is 123456?
You’d think toddlers were creating them! “Password” comes in at a rather high rate too, according to CNN. This data comes from a list from the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre that analyzed passwords worldwide. Needless to say, these are super crackable passwords.
Did you know 1 in 4 Americans believe the sun revolves around the Earth?
A total of 2,200 Americans were surveyed by the National Science Foundation in 2012. The numbers were startling: One in four incorrectly answered that the sun revolves around the Earth. Brush up on the science facts you didn’t learn in school.
Did you know carbs make you sleepy?
Ever wonder why everyone in your family passes out after a huge meal? Most comfort foods include carbohydrates, and carbs contain an amino acid called tryptophan that can cause sleepiness. These 12 fast food “facts” are actually false.
Did you know the words algebra, alcohol, ghoul, and magazine all come from Arabic?
These common words are all rooted in Arabic.
Did you know the average American uses three rolls of toilet paper each week?
And this excessive toilet paper use is affecting our forests. A report by the National Resources Defense Council described a “tree-to-toilet” pipeline, “concluding that the “consequences for Indigenous Peoples, treasured wildlife, and the global climate” are devastating. If the coronavirus pandemic and toilet paper shortage didn’t make you want to switch to a bidet and never go back, maybe that harsh truth will.
Did you know in India, most marriages are arranged?
A survey by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in Delhi and German foundation Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung found that a high number—84 percent!—of Indian youth were in arranged marriages. If you loved these “did you know” facts, then try out these tricky trivia questions that only geniuses will get right.