Weird facts history – 21 bizarre historical facts, with sources

This is one for my weird facts history box.

I came across these 21 bizarre pieces of historical information that seem unbelievable but all are 100% true. I found them fascinating, so I made you a compilation video too.

Mind = blown.

So here’s some catnip for history lovers – a compilation of crazy events, bizarre facts and jaw dropping figures from of the past.

You’ll also find links to the source of each fact below. We’re satisfied that they’re credible, but as always would appreciate your views.

The original idea is from this Reddit post, but I’ve added more facts and done a fair bit of digging and validating. Feel free to call me a liar.

Here’s the video. Da-da!

 

 

Fact Sources

*Spoiler alert* Here are all 21 facts and sources:

 

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

This is unbelievably sad and hard to believe, but it comes from a published author.

Timothy Benford has written several books on history, but this specific fact comes from The World War II Quiz and Fact Book .

You can find the Kindle version of this book on Amazon here:

You can also get the hardback copy on Amazon here.

 

2. Nintendo has been around since 1889

Nintendo were a playing card company long before they did computer games, and but you can still buy Nintendo playing cards on Amazon:

 

For the company history, see here:

https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Corporate/Nintendo-History/Nintendo-History-625945.html

 

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

This fits weird my weird facts history box perfectly. It’s a fairly well documented event of a B-52 bomber jettisoning two hydrogen bombs over North Carolina. The bombs fell in a farmer’s field, but did not explode. Luckily the fail safe mechanisms worked!

http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2013/sep/20/goldsboro-revisited-declassified-document

 

  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. They did not live in the same places but they did co-exist.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/05/wrangel-island/sides-text

 

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

And by address, we mean the whole property. Wilmer McLean’s property 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.

http://www.history.com/news/how-the-civil-war-stalked-wilmer-mclean

 

  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

http://www.va.gov/opa/publications/factsheets/fs_americas_wars.pdf

 

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

This is from Ole Benedictow’s chilling book on the subject.

 

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

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0707/feature1/text3.html

 

  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

Another bizarre historical fact! Oxford University was founded in 1249. Aztec civilization began with the founding of Tenochtitlán in 1325.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/oxford-university-is-older-than-the-aztecs-1529607/?no-ist

 

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

What remains is a low quality copy.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-nasa-tapes-idUSTRE56F5MK20090720

 

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

http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/prehistoric-world/permian-extinction/

http://www.pnas.org/content/111/15/5462.full.pdf

 

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

http://www.historyextra.com/article/people-history/12-surprising-facts-about-queen-elizabeth-ii

 

  1. Betty White is older than Mount Rushmore

http://www.nps.gov/moru/learn/historyculture/carving-history.htm

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/worklife/02/23/mf.betty.white.why.love/

 

  1. USA has existed for 240 years. It has been at war for 222 of those.

Using a fairly broad definition of war, this fact comes from Loonwatch.

 

  1. Static electricity caused the Hindenburg explosion.

The cause of the Hindenburg disaster was a mystery for a long time. Jem Stansfield of South West Research Institute finally gave us an answer.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/hindenburg-mystery-solved-after-76-years-8517996.html

 

  1. Ancient Romans used urine as mouthwash.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/from-gunpowder-to-teeth-whitener-the-science-behind-historic-uses-of-urine-442390/

 

  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” on 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)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pyramid_of_Giza

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

http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/10-things-you-may-not-know-about-genghis-khan

 

There you have it – file under weird facts history. Please feel free to add any corrections and comments!

 

Video credits:

Photographs

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

 

Footage

Hindenburg Disaster, British Pathé Archive, 1937

 

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