Broccoli does not exist in nature. Rather, it is a human invention bred out of a wild cabbage plant. It was cultivated to have a specific taste and flavor that was more palatable to people.
The elephant’s closest relative looks like a guinea pig. The rock hyrax is a small, furry, rat-like mammal that lives in rocky landscapes across sub-Saharan Africa and along the coast of the Arab peninsula. Elephants and rock hyraxes share common features like having two tusks and nails instead of claws, but their closest common ancestor died out 60 million years ago.
‘Granny Smith’ apples come from Australia in 1868, where Maria Ann “Granny” Smith found a seedling growing near her property which bore light green apples. Apple growers began growing them for mass-market in the late 1960s, and since then it has become a popular variety worldwide.
More than 410 feature-length film and TV versions of William Shakespeare’s plays have been produced, making Shakespeare the most filmed author ever in any language.
Texas is nicknamed ‘The Lone Star State’ as a nod to its former status as an independent republic and its struggle for independence from Mexico. The ‘Lone Star’ can still be found on the state flag and seal today.
The first American novel was “The Power of Sympathy”, a tragic love story promoting rational thought that was written by William Hill Brown and published in Boston in 1791.
The Hoovers both spoke Mandarin. In the White House they would speak in Mandarin to avoid eavesdroppers. To date, Lou Hoover is the only First Lady to speak an Asian language. They were also well versed in Latin; working together to translate “De Re Metallica” a 16th century mining textbook.
Country music used to be known as “hillbilly” music. Billboard released its first country chart in 1939, called “Hillbilly Hits.” Though that name lost favor as a pejorative, it left its mark. After country artists started using rock techniques, they created Hillbilly rock, or Rockabilly.
The longest palindromic word in the Oxford English Dictionary is the onomatopoeic ‘tattarrattat’, coined by James Joyce in his book Ulysses for a knock on the door. However, the Guinness Book of Records gives the title to ‘detartrated’, stemming from a chemical term meaning to remove tartrates.
Constantine XI Palaiologos was the last Christian Emperor of Constantinople and the Byzantine empire. In 1453, when Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks, he was last seen fighting at the city walls, but the actual circumstances of his death have remained surrounded in myth.