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FASCINATING FACTS: 10 FACTS THAT SOUND FAKE BUT ARE ACTUALLY TRUE

The Internet is filled with pseudo-facts, and it is hard to know which ones you can actually believe. For example, a woman buying invisible artwork for $10,000 or a shrimp throwing a better punch than you might sound absolutely crazy and totally fake, but these are actually true! We live in a fascinating world, and oddities exist everywhere in science, nature, human history, and everyday life. Here, we have compiled a list of 10 such compelling facts that are hard to believe. Whether you are looking for pure amusement or interesting icebreakers, you are surely going to enjoy these!

1. Spain is one of four countries in the world that have no words in its national anthem.

Spain, San Marino, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina are the only four countries in the world to not have lyrics in their national anthem. The “Marcha Real,” Spain’s national anthem, was composed in 1761 by Spanish oboist, director, and composer, Manuel Espinosa de los Monteros. The tune was originally composed for the Spanish Infantry as a military step. In 1770, it was declared Spain’s official march by Spain’s King Charles III. As a result, it was formally played during solemn acts in public. Later, during the reign of Queen Isabel II, “Marcha Real” became the official national anthem of Spain.

After the Glorious Revolution that took place in 1868, there were plans for replacing the “Marcha Real” as the national anthem. General Prim even held a nationwide contest for coming up with a new national anthem, but, it did not work to his favor. Again, during the Second Spanish Republic that occurred between 1931 and 1939, the “Himno de Riego” briefly replaced “Marcha Real” as the official national anthem. Finally, when the Spanish Civil War ended, Spanish politician and general, Francisco Franco returned “Marcha Real” to its former glory of being the country’s official anthem. However, the title was changed to “La Marcha Granadera.”

The fact that it is one of the oldest national anthems in the world is not the only noteworthy aspect. The most striking thing about Spain’s national anthem is that it has no official lyrics. During the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, the national anthem did have lyrics. However, after Franco’s death, when Spain became a democratic country, the lyrics were officially dropped.

Though several attempts have been made to add words to the anthem, the Spanish government has rejected all of them. The present version of the anthem is a 16-bar phrase with no words, and the phrase has two sections that follow an AABB pattern. There are also three different official arrangements: one for organ, one for a military band, and one for an orchestra. (12)

2. A woman once bought an invisible piece of art for $10,000.

Back in 2011, artist duo Delia and Brainard Carey along with American actor James Franco, introduced a project called “MONA” or “Museum of Non-Visible Art.” They even launched a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter to gain financial support for this mythical museum. As ludicrous as it sounds, a woman actually bought one of their invisible art pieces for $10,000!

Aimee Davison, a new media enthusiast, bought the piece titled “Fresh Air” to show her support for the project. The unique art piece, which does not exist physically, was described as having “an endless tank of oxygen.” Because of her generous contribution to the project, Davidson will receive only a display card that will explain the idea and inspiration behind the art piece.

When asked, Aimee Davison said that the reason she purchased the art was that she felt inspired by the idea that MONA aspires to “exchange ideas and dreams as currency in the New Economy.” She also stated that “Fresh Air” supports her thesis of what she calls “you-commerce,” which is the act of monetizing and marketing one’s skills, persona, and products via social media. (12)

3. Two sisters in Virginia sold an Illinois-shaped cornflake for $1,350 on eBay.

Back in 2008, sister duo Melissa and Emily McIntire from Virginia sold a cornflake for $1,350. If you are wondering what was so special about the single cornflake, the answer is that it was shaped like the U.S. state of Illinois. The week-long auction was held on eBay until a trivia website owner by the name of Monty Kerr bought the item. The Texas man was building a collection of American and pop-culture items and thought that the cornflake would be a great addition to that.

The sisters had originally listed the cornflake on the popular auction site, but eBay quickly removed it saying the listing violated their food policy. So, they auctioned a redeemable coupon instead. Kerr, the winner of the auction, said he would visit Virginia or send someone there to pick up the item in person to avoid damage. The sisters, on the other hand, had stated that they would take a family vacation with the money earned. (12)

4. The mantis shrimp throws the fastest punch in the world. It punches with the speed and force of a rifle bullet.

Stomatopods, popularly known as the “mantis shrimp,” are marine crustaceans from the Stomatopoda order. Being the rather aggressive relatives of lobsters and crabs, mantis shrimps prey upon other marine animals. Their killer moves include devastating jabs that can even smash through glass walls that are a quarter-inch thick!

The creature’s secret weapon is its hinged arms that stay folded and hidden away under the head. It can unfurl these arms at incredibly high speeds to cripple its enemy with powerful blows. Some species of mantis shrimp have spears which they use to stab soft-bodied prey such as fish. However, the “smasher” species have heavy clubs attached to their arms. This species of mantis shrimps are known to punch at the force of a rifle bullet.

Scientists have discovered that the shrimp have spring-loaded arms that help them swing their clubbed “fists” at a speed of 23 meters/second. The saddle-shaped structure right above the clubs plays a major role in the shrimp’s ability to pack a punch. It is a two-layer structure. The top one is made up of a ceramic-like substance that feels like bone, and the second layer is composed of biopolymers, which is a material similar to plastic.

When the shrimp bends the saddle-like structure, it compresses the top layer and stretches the bottom layer. The bony top layer can pack a lot of energy when compressed, but it is also brittle when stretched or bent. The bottom layer, on the other hand, is stretchy and strong thanks to the biopolymers. The combination helps to maintain the force of the punch without causing damage to the shrimp. (12)

5. Frogs use their eyeballs to push food down their throat.

Have you ever watched a frog eat? If so, you must have noticed how it closes its eyes or blinks while swallowing. This is not because the frog is enjoying its meal, but because the creature uses its large eyeballs to push food down the throat! Back in 1906, biologist Mary Dickerson first proposed the idea that toads and frogs press their eyes down into the roof of their mouth as it helps them to swallow. In doing that, the eyes work as a trash compactor.

However, the theory would not be tested until 2004 when a group of biologists from Massachusetts University started studying a leopard frog’s eye movement while eating. They took x-ray videos of the animal while it ate. The results showed that the frog did push its eyes down to the roof of its mouth to push the prey down towards the pharynx. The electrical activity also showed that the eye retractor muscles were activated on purpose.

Finally, in an experiment, the scientists cut the nerves present in the retractor muscles. The results showed that the frogs were still able to swallow even though they could not close their eyes. However, the animal had to work twice as hard to push down the same amount of food. The study hence proved that frogs do use their eyes to swallow. (12)

6. Most of the Characters on kids’ cereal boxes are always looking down so that they can make eye contact with the children walking down the aisles at the grocery stores.

If you look at the design on kids’ cereal boxes, you will see that the mascot is always staring down. Mascots on adult cereal boxes, on the other hand, are mostly found staring straight ahead. It is not arbitrary or coincidental. There is a clever reason behind it! A recent study conducted by the Food and Brand Lab of Cornell University revealed that cereal manufacturers designed the packaging intentionally to appeal to the varying demographics.

The team at Cornell studied 65 different brands of cereals found at 10 grocery stores. They also examined 86 cereal mascots. They found that kids’ cereal boxes are placed on the lower shelves, which makes sense. They also measured the mascot’s gaze and found that 66% of them were staring down. Experts say that eye contact helps to build a connection and trust. The study concluded that cereal boxes that used this strategy saw a significant increase in trust and connection. (12)

7. In 2012, a tourist in Iceland unwittingly joined a search party that was looking for a missing woman. It turned out that she was looking for herself!

Back in 2012, when touring around Iceland, an Asian woman was reported missing. A search party was soon created to look for the woman, and a tourist joined in to help. After a while, it became clear to the tourist that the search party was actually looking for her!

As far as the story goes, the bus party was touring around the Eldgjá volcanic region of Iceland. When the bus stopped, the Asian tourist in question stepped out along with the rest of the party to freshen up. However, she had changed her clothes before rejoining her party which caused her fellow travelers to fail to recognize her.

When she was declared missing, a search party involving 50 people set out on a night-long operation to find her. She was part of the group but did not recognize the group’s description of herself. After hours of searching, the woman realized that everyone was actually looking for her! The search was then called off. (1, 2)

8. All brown eyes are actually blue underneath. They appear brown because of the presence of a pigment called melanin.

We all know that our skin gets its color from melanin, but did you know it is the same component that creates brown eyes? On the other hand, there are no blue pigments in blue eyes. Eyes appear blue because of the same reason the sky and water appear to be blue. It occurs when the sunlight gets scattered and reflects more blue light.

The colored section of the eye is known as the “iris.” This structure is composed of various cells and muscles. You can actually see the iris squeezing or relaxing when letting more or less light in through the pupil. The iris is also composed of two layers. The back layer consists of brown pigment, and that is true for everyone including people with blue eyes.

The front layer, on the other hand, is made up of overlapping cells and fibers. Those with brown eyes have brown pigments in some of these cells. In the absence of brown pigments in the front layer, the fibers tend to scatter. They also absorb the longer wavelengths of light. This way, more blue light reflects back and the eyes look blue.

Since eyes appear blue due to light, the color can also change when there is a change in lighting. Also, since the genetics behind eye color are complex, predicting eye color of an unborn child is not possible. (12)

9. The giant swallowtail caterpillars disguise themselves as bird poop to avoid predators.

Caterpillars are delicious treats for hungry birds, which is why the giant swallowtail caterpillar has developed a shrewd strategy to avoid falling prey to these common predators. These caterpillars use their unique coloring and shape to camouflage themselves as bird poop! Known as “masquerading,” the tactic is actually a lifesaver for these caterpillars.

According to a report released by the Animal Behavior journal, these creatures have a white and brown color combination that makes them look like bird droppings. Moreover, when resting on branches or leaves, the caterpillars contour their body to appear as a dollop of poop. The disguise is perfect enough to fool not only birds but also humans! (12)

10. Aphids, tiny sap-sucking insects, are born pregnant.

Sexual maturity refers to the age when animals become capable of reproducing. Different animals reach maturity at different ages, but the tiny sap-sucking insects known as aphids are born pregnant. Also known as “blackfly” or” greenfly,” aphids belong to the Aphidoidea superfamily. They come in various colors, and the group also includes the woolly aphids that are fluffy and white. These insects can reproduce asexually.

The flightless female aphids can give birth to other female nymphs without ever having to copulate with a male. The females can also breed at a rapid speed. In temperate climates, autumn brings about a time of sexual reproduction. That is when the insects spend the winter as eggs. (12)

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