If we were crying they wouldn't be crocodile tears


Here at mental_floss, we're still reeling from the news that Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin was killed yesterday. He, like us, thought that education could be joyous and goofy -- in fact, when this New York Times multiple-choice quiz asked readers his name (it's question 6), it offered our very own Will Pearson as one of the wrong answers. Rather than send Will down to Australia to continue Steve's legacy, we thought we'd offer up some facts about Steve's favorite animal as a tribute:

  • There are only about 600 American Crocodiles in this country, all of them found in Florida. The South American Caiman is much more abundant and may have been first brought to the U.S. as a pet.
  • If baby crocodiles are having trouble making it out of their eggs, the mother may crack the eggs open with her teeth.
  • The crocodile-god Sobek was so popular in the ancient Egyptian city of Arsinoe that the Greeks referred to the city as "Crocodilopolis." Egyptians used crocodiles as everything from a decorative motif to a dispenser of birth control (they thought the animals' dung had contraceptive powers).
  • In the first Jurassic Park, the T-Rex's roar was a remix of sounds from a crocodile, a lion, a tiger and a baby elephant.

And this, from our new issue: "Between 1925 and 1928, French tennis star Jean Rene Lacoste won seven Grand Slam men's singles events -- and he might have won more, had he not become ridiculously rich by inventing the world's first good tennis shirt. In the 1920s, tennis players wore long-sleeve, heavily starched dress shirts, often with ties. Lacoste grew weary of the outfits, so he designed a short-sleeve shirt with a longer shirttail in the back and a flat collar. Light and comfortable, Lacoste's shirts were an immediate hit when he began mass-producing them. But what about the logo? Known as 'Le Crocodile' for his on-court tenacity, Lacoste added the iconic croc to his clothing line in the mid 1930s -- the first time a logo is known to have appeared on the outside of a shirt."

Lacoste also seems to have started the trend for popped collars, which is one peril we're sure Steve Irwin would have been savvy enough to avoid. RIP, Steve, we'll miss you.