Strange but true: 21 jaw-dropping historical facts




21 historical facts that sound totally unbelievable but are 100% true. Mind = blown. These are some of the craziest events, facts and figures throughout history.

File under: Catnip for history buffs.

We got the idea for this from Reddit, but we’ve also done a fair bit of digging for reliable sources ourselves. Feel free to chip in and call us liars.

*Spoiler alert* Here they are, with sources:


  1. 80% of Soviet men born in 1923 did not survive WWII

Benford, Timothy B. 1999. The World War II Quiz and Fact Book. New York, NY: Random House

2 Nintendo has been around since 1889

  1. In 1961, the US Air Force accidentally dropped two nuclear bombs on itself in North Carolina. A small technical error prevented the bombs detonating.

  1. Wooly mammoths and the Great Pyramids coexisted.

The woolly mammoth died out around 1700 B.C. The Pyramids of Giza were built around 4,000 years ago.

  1. The US Civil War started and ended in the same house.

Wilmer McLean’s house in Appomattox, Virginia.

The war’s first major battle damaged the house. Later, Confederate General Robert E. Lee was to surrender in the house’s parlour.

  1. One person in the US is still receiving a Civil War soldier’s pension.

U.S. Veterans and Dependents on Benefits Rolls as of April 2015

  1. The Black Death killed ca. 200 000 000 people. 50% of Europe’s population.

Benedictow, 2008 and

Austin Alchon, Suzanne (2003). A pest in the land: new world epidemics in a global perspective. University of New Mexico Press

  1. Scientists believe half of the human race has died from malaria.

  1. The last widow of the American Civil War died in 2008

Maudie Hopkins (December 7, 1914 – August 17, 2008)

Schlueter, Roger. Civil War soldier’s widow lives Belleville News-Democrat August 3, 2008

  1. Oxford University is older than the Aztec Empire

Oxford University was founded in 1249. Aztec civilization began with the founding of Tenochtitlán in 1325.

  1. NASA accidentally erased the original tape of the first steps on the moon.

What remains is a low quality copy.

  1. At the end of the Permian Era 90% of all life on earth was wiped out

  1. Queen Elizabeth II has reigned through 12 US Presidencies.

  1. Betty White is older than Mount Rushmore

  1. USA has existed for 240 years. It has been at war for 222 of those.
  1. Static electricity caused the Hindenburg explosion.

Jem Stansfield, South West Research Institute

  1. Ancient Romans used urine as mouthwash.

  1. In 1788 the Austrian army attacked itself and lost 10,000 men.

Regan, Geoffrey (2000). The Brassey’s Book of Military Blunders. Washington, D.C. Brassey’s

  1. A witness of Lincoln’s assassination lived to tell the tale on live TV

The Milwaukee Sentinel – Feb 7, 1954

Samuel J. Seymour interview with Garry Moore, “I’ve Got a Secret”, Youtube

  1. Cleopatra’s reign was closer to the moon landing than the construction of the great pyramids.

Great Pyramid (ca. 2560 BC). Cleopatra (69 BC to 30 BC), First lunar landing (1969)

T.C. Skeat, “The Last Days of Cleopatra: A Chronological Problem”, The Journal of Roman Studies, 43 (1953), pp. 98–100

  1. The Mongols killed 11% of the world’s population


Video credits:


Appomattox Court House, Timothy O’Sullivan, 1865, PD-US

Danse Macabre, Michael Wolgemut, PD-US

Woolly Mammoth, Wiki user Funk Monk, CC BY-SA 2.0

Betty White in The Betty White Show, 1954, PD-US



Hindenburg Disaster, British Pathé Archive, 1937


A Big Thank You to Reddit and Redditors anotherpoweruser, roussell131, WCC335, flame49271

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© Yestervid 2016