A list of curious facts
One: We all know that humans have totally transformed the way dogs look. We’ve bred them over and again to look weirder, cuter and more pleasing to the human eye. Did you know we’ve done something similar to silkworms? Domesticated silkworms—raised in farms—look absolutely nothing like their wild peers:
With enormous, cartoonish black eyes, thick, feathery antennae that flop down like the ears of a spaniel, and bodies covered in poodle-white fluff, they look more like Pokémon characters than real animals. Their modest wings, out of proportion with their large bodies, almost resemble the stuck-on kind children wear to parties.
In fact, we have been domesticating silkworms for almost as long as dogs—and raise 1 trillion of them each year. The lead image is the ‘after’ version—Bombyx mori or the domesticated silk moth—and below is its much duller cousin, Bombyx mandarina, the wild variety. (BBC Future)
Two: The Antonov An-124 cargo plane is, umm, massive:
The flying monstrosity, one of 26 in the world, has a wingspan of 240 feet, double that of a Boeing 737’s, and is roomy enough to ferry satellites, locomotive engines and wind turbines—as much as 150 tons of stuff.
But the cargo plane stranded at Toronto for over a year is even more special. Its owner—the Russian airline Volga-Dnepr—owes more than $330,000 in parking fees. It is stranded due to the Canadian ban on Russian craft in its airspace—triggered by the Ukraine invasion. And there are ‘patriotic’ airline brokers determined to keep it exactly where it is—exposed to the elements and without maintenance until it becomes “a giant paperweight.” The vid below gives you a sense of how large this plane is—though keep it at mute to avoid the ghastly soundtrack. (Wall Street Journal)
Three: Here’s a feel-good fact. For centuries, herders in the Himalayas have been surviving on a cheese called churpi. The cheese is “fermented and smoked for months, sometimes years, to form a tasteless hard cheese that is very high in protein and nutrients.” Churpi was a lifeline during the harsh winters but there was no money made from it… until a dog in the US tasted the damn cheese:
In the early 2000s, Nishes Shrestha brought some churpi back to the US after visiting family in Nepal. When his friend Suman Shrestha noticed Nishes’ dog chomping down on a stick of churpi it was a eureka moment. The pair began to test the snack out on friends’ dogs. Soon they had roped in Suman’s brother, Sujan, and in 2007 they launched Himalayan Pet Supply, the first company to sell Himalayan yak churpi as an organic dog chew.
Here’s a crazy stat: At least 30 Nepalese dog-chew churpi companies generated $22 million in 2021-22. It’s a great feel-good story, no doubt… until churpi falls out of favour in the West. (The Guardian)