If you’ve ever asked for a coke, then been asked what kind of coke you wanted, then been utterly confused by the question, you’re familiar with the phenomenon of different areas of the U.S. using different words to describe the same thing. There are more reasons behind these linguistic lunacies than there are words for a sub… or a hoagie, or a grinder (or a hero, a poor boy, or sarney).
Now a ubiquitous symbol used to tag social media content, it’s reasonable to assume that the hashtag [#] must be a Silicon Valley invention that can’t be older than the personal computer—right? #guessagain. Once called a “number sign” or “pound sign,” the character in question first appeared in bookkeeping parlance and typewriter keyboards in the 1880s (not the 1980s). Its modern origins may lie in shorthand for the Roman term libra pondo (“pound weight”), but a recent discovery suggests that the form of the hash mark goes back much farther in human history—WAY back, in fact. While studying Gorham’s cave in Gibraltar, archaeologists found a rough hashtag-like symbol carved into a natural platform of rock. They were confident that the carving was human-made and not the accidental result of activity like butchering game. They’ve dated the carving at around 37,000 BCE and here’s the amazing thing: it wasn’t made by Homo sapiens, but rather by our distant cousins the Neanderthals, making it possibly the oldest humanoid creation ever found. #prehistoricpoundsign #hominidhashtag #neanderthalsarepeopletoo
Game of Phones | $20
Humans aren’t the only mammals to indulge in recreational drugs. Some horses eat hallucinogenic weeds, elephants get drunk on fermented fruit, and big horn sheep nibble narcotic lichen. Add to the list bottlenose dolphins, which have their own unusual source for getting stoned: pufferfish. These fish are known for their ability to blow up like balloons to foil predators, but most species have an even more powerful defense mechanism: tetrodotoxin, a poison that makes them a foul-tasting meal. Having learned that pufferfish are deadly snacks (up to 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide), dolphins instead enjoy the narcotic effects of low levels of tetrodotoxin dispersed in water. Film crews have documented dolphins playing with inflated puffers like biological beach balls, passing the hapless fish back and forth among their pod. But this game of puffer polo has a higher purpose: to make the annoyed fish release a cloud of tetrodotoxin which is then enjoyed by the pod for its serene, sub-lethal effects. Under its influence, the dolphins float upside down in a trance-like state, apparently enjoying the natural narcotic. Dude.
Blowfish Garden Stake | $100
If those colors come in ice cream form, then what happens is a mouthwatering scoop of heaven. The strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla of Neapolitan ice cream have been colorfully cohabitating in America since the 1870s. But this palate-pleaser hasn’t always drawn from the same palette of flavors. Originally, any three varieties of ice cream might have appeared together (how do they get them to sit so perfectly side by side? More on that later), and it’s thought that the version we love today became standardized simply because those were the three most popular ice cream flavors in America at the time.
There is nothing a heavy metal rocker loves more–after taking off his skull mask, corpse makeup, and studded leather bat wings–than curling up in a quiet corner with a good book. Or so one might think, considering the chosen names of some bands that consider “11” a reasonable sound volume.
In case you haven’t been keeping tabs on the news of the weird lately, the body of the Loch Ness monster has been found. Well, sort of. Researchers surveying the depths of the Scottish loch with sonar imaging technology have rediscovered a 30-foot prop Nessie used in the 1970 film “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.” Sunk during filming in 1969, the model monster has been hanging out 180 meters deep on the loch bed ever since. The researchers with the Loch Ness Project didn’t expect to encounter any mysterious creatures—real or artificial—so finding the film artifact was a quirky coincidence to their scientific search for Nessie’s lair. “We have found a monster, but not the one many people might have expected,” commented Loch Ness expert Adrian Shine. In a bit of mythical monster synchronicity, a drone has captured what may be footage of a Bigfoot scampering through the Idaho landscape.
Sea Serpent Garden Sculpture | $180
It would make sense that the novel idea of slicing off the Big Apple from the rest of the state would come from a novelist.
In the 1960s, New York City was suffering as crime rates climbed and the mighty metropolis lurched toward bankruptcy. While long-standing politicians offered few new ideas on how to wake the City That Never Sleeps from its fatal slumber, the unlikely duo of novelist Norman Mailer and columnist Jimmy Breslin seized the opportunity to shake up the status quo during the 1969 Democratic Mayoral Primary election–by running for Mayor and City Council president, respectively.
Cascading water, misty sprays, rainbow skies: Niagara Falls offers some pretty obvious aesthetic benefits. But other than its Instagram-worthy backdrop beauty, why, exactly, did the Twin Cities — which straddle the Canadian and U.S. borders — become known as the Honeymoon Capital of the World?