Wombats Taste Like Pork, So They Say

Random Kinds of Factness

This day in history: “A Hard Day’s Night,” the first feature film starring the Beatles, debuted at Piccadilly Circus in London July 6, 1964. Thousands of people surrounded the sold-out theatre to catch a glimpse of the Fab Four.

n Perhaps imitating the sound cats make, the early Egyptian name for cat was mau.

n If hearing foreign languages is very frightening to you, you may be suffering from xenoglossophobia.

n Bonobos, humanity’s closest living relative, weren’t discovered until 1929. Unlike other nonhuman primates, they walk on two feet, hunched over like early humans. Local natives along the Zaire River, where bonobos live, have creation stories in which bonobos and humans were once brothers.

n A reader asks why pencils are usually six-sided. It’s not because the hexagonal shape makes them easier to grip — it’s because they’re less likely to roll off your desk.

n Do you want to know what that exotic meat is going to taste like? According to certain epicures, wombat, crocodile and beaver taste like pork; hippo and zebra taste like beef; bats taste like partridges; lions and boa constrictors taste like veal; monkey, fox and armadillo taste like rabbit; and baby wasps taste like scrambled eggs.

n Perhaps “laser” should be spelled in capital letters, because it’s an acronym. Its letters stand for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.

n How many pyramids are there in Egypt? There are at least 70 still standing, and another 88 that archaeologists know about but no longer exist. Not a bad record, considering they were built in the period between 2700 and 1000 B.C.

n Boiling water won’t kill everything. There are organisms that live in volcanic vents and hot springs that consider boiling water to be just the right temperature.

n Worldwide, 264 cans of Spam are eaten every minute of every day.

Erin Barrett and Jack Mingo’s new book is Random Kinds of Factness (Red Wheel/Weiser), featuring the best of this column. They can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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