A list of curious facts
One: Did you know that some birds are just plain venomous—like snakes? They may look harmless, but some of them can be as fatal as a scorpion. Like the regent whistler (Pachycephala schlegelii) and the rufous-naped bellbird (Aleadryas rufinucha). Scientists just realised that these birds contain Batrachotoxin (BTX) in their feathers and bodies. That’s one of the most potent nerve poisons in the world.
How they get this venomous: “It’s thought the birds get the toxin through their diet by consuming toxic food and then turning it into a poison that’s incorporated into their tissues.” Happily, the poison isn’t strong enough to kill you. But just so you know the next time you see something like our lead image and think—’aww, cute birdie!’. Umm, no. (IFL Science)
Two: For a long time, a 19th century painting of three white children in a Louisiana painting held a nasty little secret. The blue sky had been painted over the image of an African slave. But here’s why it’s even more remarkable:
One reason “Bélizaire and the Frey Children” has drawn attention is the naturalistic depiction of Bélizaire, the young man of African descent who occupies the highest position in the painting, leaning against a tree just behind the Frey children. Although he remains separated from the white children, [French painter Jacques] Amans painted him in a powerful stance, with blushing cheeks, and a kind of interiority that is unusual for the time.
Three: Madly ideological humans have all sorts of bad ideas. Like the American Communists who decided to translate a Stalinist book about revolution into a children’s game. The game called Toward Soviet America was the “anti-Monopoly”:
The players’ goal is to get rid of the rich and powerful, end oppression, and seize the means of production. Ultimately, their actions will turn the USA into the USSA—the United Soviet States of America.
Oddly, the game never really became big. Though it does look fun:
Bonus fact: Back in 2015, Russia banned a Polish game called Queue—because it replicated the insanity of shopping under a Communist regime:
It aims to show a younger generation of Poles the exasperation of everyday life in communist-era Poland. Players have to buy all the products on their shopping lists in the five stores in the neighbourhood—or on the black market. They have to wait for the products to be re-stocked, and in order to advance in the line, they can use cards such as “mother with child.” The game quickly became a hit, drawing long lines to get one, ironically.