Mental Floss
LISTS

50 Awesome Facts About Everything

mentalfloss .com
Trivia buffs and brainiacs, these fun facts are for you.
Trivia buffs and brainiacs, these fun facts are for you. / Jolygon/iStock via Getty Images
facebooktwitterreddit

Here at Mental Floss, we're big fans fun facts and all things trivia. We learned a lot from reading National Geographic Kids’s book 5,000 Awesome Facts (About Everything!) 2. If you need a great conversation starter, here are 50 awesome facts from the book.

1. In 1889, the Queen of Italy, Margherita Savoy, ordered the first pizza delivery.

Legend has it that she wanted to dine on something a commoner would eat.

2. You can buy eel-flavored ice cream in Japan.

The unusual ice cream flavor is a summer delicacy.

3. It's considered rude to write in red ink in Portugal.

The color red is said to be associated with negative actions.

4. The elusive bobcat is the most common wildcat in North America.

Bobcats thrive in regions that stretch from Canada to Mexico. Good luck finding one, though.

5. A cat's tail contains nearly 10 percent of the bones in its body.

There are a lot of bones beneath that tail fluff.
There are a lot of bones beneath that tail fluff. / Michael Blann/Getty Images

A cat's tail has anywhere from 19 to 23 vertebrae.

6. Gecko feet have millions of tiny hairs.

The hairs stick to surfaces with a special chemical bond. This lets the geckos climb walls and hang on by just one toe.

7. The word Astronaut is rooted in the Greek language.

It comes from words that mean "star" and "sailor."

8. We really are made of stardust.

The calcium in our bones and the iron in our blood come from the ancient explosions of giant stars.

9. The Nile crocodile can hold its breath underwater for up to two hours.

It does this while waiting for prey.

10. Jellyfish are not fish.

xijian/iStock via Getty Images

Jellyfish, or jellies as scientists call them, have no brain, heart, or bones.

11. The Chinese Giant Salamander can grow up to 6 feet long.

It's the largest salamander in the world.

12. People reportedly prefer blue toothbrushes over red ones.

The color really doesn't make a difference. Just keep an eye out for any gross things that could be on your toothbrush.

13. Some people used to believe that kissing a donkey could relieve a toothache.

This is just one strange old-timey medical treatment.

14. Scientists say the best time to take a nap is between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

This is because a dip in body temperature occurs and makes people sleepy.

15. A day in the age of dinosaurs was just 23 hours long.

Earth's days are getting longer.
Earth's days are getting longer. / Wicki58/Getty Images

This is because the speed of Earth's rotation changes over time.

16. A hummingbird's wings can beat up to more than 200 times per second.

Hummingbirds are built for performance.

17. There are more than 1200 water parks in North America.

Some of them, like Action Park, were downright dangerous.

18. A seahorse can move its eyes in opposite directions.

This makes it easier for seahorses to scan the water for food and predators.

19. It would take 100 Earths, lined up end-to-end, to stretch across the face of the sun.

The sun is massive—it's 99.8 percent of all the mass in our solar system.

20. To cook an egg, a sidewalk needs to be 158°F.

skodonnell/iStock via Getty Images

Anything colder will just make a mess.

21. A group of jellyfish is called a smack.

Just make sure you don't get smacked by their venomous tentacles.

22. Less than 1 percent of Antarctica is ice-free.

A whopping 90 percent of the world's total ice is in the Antarctica ice sheet.

23. The highest wave ever surfed was as tall as a 10-story building.

The terrifying achievement was recognized by Guiness World Records.

24. The beagle brigade is used in more than 20 international airports in the U.S.

The dogs keep a yearly average of 75,000 illegal items out of the country.

25. Some apples can weigh about as much as half a gallon of milk.

How 'bout them giant apples.
How 'bout them giant apples. / Yoav Peled/Getty Images

More apple means more apple pie.

26. Corn is grown on every continent except Antarctica.

For obvious reasons.

27. Unlike most fish, seahorses are covered in bony plates.

Most other fish are covered in scales.

28. You lose a lot of hair each day.

The average person sheds about 50 to 100 strands of each day.

29. The utricle is the world's smallest fruit.

The tiny fruit is the size of a small ant.

30. Armadillo is a Spanish word.

Getty Images

It means "little armored one."

31. New Jersey has the highest concentration of shopping malls.

The state has 66 malls and shopping centers.

32. Komodo dragons can devour 5 pounds of meat in less than a minute.

They store any extra fat in their tails.

33. Not all moons are dry and dusty like ours.

Our solar system has some magnificent moons. Jupiter's Europa has a liquid ocean under an icy crust.

34. Some viking chiefs were buried inside their ships.

Others were merely buried in mounds that looked like ships.

35. Clouds cover about 60 percent of Earth at any moment.

Nephologists, rejoice.
Nephologists, rejoice. / Digital Vision/Getty Images

Here are some strange cloud types and what they mean.

36. apes make laugh-like vocalizations when they are tickled.

It's similar to human laughter.

37. Spotted hyenas can digest skin and bones.

Spotted hyenas are also cunning killers.

38. The quills on Africa's crested porcupines are as long as three pencils.

It's best not to write with one, though.

39. Scientists believe people who dream about an activity will actually get better at it in real life.

Surprisingly, this is not a misconception about dreams. Practice really does make perfect—even if you're not awake.

40. Your hair contains traces of gold.

ValuaVitaly/iStock via Getty Images

Human hair also contains traces of other minerals.

41. In Japan, people don't see a "man in the moon."

Instead, they see a rabbit.

42. Some clouds travel up to 100 miles per hour across the sky.

It all depends on the speed of the wind.

43. Naked mole rats are sometimes called "sand puppies."

Not to be confused with actual puppies, of course.

44. Opal has been discovered on Mars.

The Martian opal could potentially provide information about ancient life.

45. George Washington loved exploring caves.

The Founding Father may have been quite the spelunker.
The Founding Father may have been quite the spelunker. / Credit:Keith Lance/iStock via Getty Images

George Washington's name was found on a cave wall.

46. It takes a gallon and a half of milk to make a gallon of ice cream.

That's almost 13 pounds of milk.

47. Your TV remote is filthy.

A TV remote is the dirtiest item in a typical household, hospital, or hotel room.

48. The Hercules beetle can grow big enough to cover an adult human hand.

The massive beetle is still tiny compared to the world's biggest spider.

49. The finest quality emeralds are more valuable than diamonds.

Emeralds are rarer than diamonds.

50. Hearing is the fastest human sense.

A person can recognize a sound in as little as 0.05 seconds.

This story originally ran in 2018; it has been updated for 2022.

facebooktwitterreddit