World’s Strangest

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Why Are the Letters in ABC Order?

The alphabet, as best as historians can tell, got its start in ancient Egypt sometime in the Middle Bronze Age, but not with the Egyptians. They were, at the time, writing with a set of hieroglyphs that were used both as representations of the consonants of their language and as logographs (a logograph or logogram [...]

A Brief History of the Absolutely Amazing “A”

Most modern alphabets start with the letter “A,” or a near equivalent. It was also first in line in the ancient Greek and Phoenician—from which the Modern English alphabet is ultimately descended—alphabets, too. Being the gateway to the other letters and to literacy, “A” has rich symbolic value. Grouped with “B” and “C,” or even standing [...]

The Ancient and Modern Ecology of Execution

Ancient Arab swords. Note that some designs were more commonly used for decapitation, and other designs less so. Drawing: The Book of the Sword, Sir Richard Francis Burton, Chatto and Windus, London, 1884. The following is reprinted from The Annals of Improbable Research. Click to enlarge images. by Simcha Lev-Yadun, Department of Science Education—Biology, Faculty of Science [...]

8 Candidates for the Next New Nation

On Saturday, South Sudan declared its independence, becoming the brand-spanking newest nation in the world. While peace and prosperity is still a good way off for this newborn, Texas-sized country—ethnic tensions are high, the economy is in shambles, and a half-dozen rebel groups have already vowed to take down the new government—the South Sudanese people [...]

Giant Rabbit of Minorca

Paleontologist Josep Quintana Cardona of the Mediterranean island of Minorca and colleagues have discovered the fossils of the largest rabbit that ever lived on Earth: The new hunk of a rabbit, now named Nuralagus rex, shows the kind of unusual turn that evolution can take on islands. “Gigantism happens,” explains Brian Kraatz of Western University [...]

The Biggest Rabbit Ever

The idea of giant bunny rabbits may remind you of Night of the Lepus, but this is no movie -it’s prehistory. A new species called the Minorcan King of the Rabbits (Nuralagus rex) has been discovered on the island of Minorca. It weighed over 26 pounds and had rather small ears compared to rabbits we [...]

Hoist the Mizzen, the Aurora Trust is on the Move

Ahoy, me Hearties and scurvy dogs! Interested in shipwrecks on the high seas? Then the Aurora Trust should be your one-stop shop. The site includes extensive galleries, videos, downloads and research projects, primarily focused on the Mediterranean. Aurora gathers marine archeologists and ocean scientists from around the world to explore these highly trafficked waters (and [...]

Woman Tests Husband with Fake Kidnapping

Spanish police have arrested an unnamed woman who faked her own kidnapping. She sent a photograph of herself with her hands and feet tied, along with a ransom demand of 20,000 euros. The ransom request was repeated in later text messages as well as warnings that the man not go to police, which he ignored. Police launched [...]

5000 Years of Board Games (Part One)

Board games — whether games of chance, skill, or a little of both — have been found in many human cultures dating back at least 5000 years. Over the next five days, I’ll take you on a quick tour though the evolution of board games, from their earliest forms in the cradles of civilization to [...]

Dietribes: Hummus Among Us

• While love may be the international language, the international love is the chickpea, or the Bengal gram (India), Chickpea (English), Garbanzo (Latin America), Hommes, Hamaz (Arab world), Nohud, Lablabi (Turkey), and Shimbra (Ethiopia), as its sometimes known. • Chickpeas are a high-protein legume, as well as providers of slow burning complex carbohydrates. They can also replenish [...]