February 28, 2011

Impress Your Friends with Random Trivia, Vol. 2

As we’ve previously explored, you can never have too much random knowledge.

  Being a smarty pants can help you out in so many situations, such as making small talk with your seatmate on an airplane, beating another human (or a super computer, as the case may be) at Jeopardy, or winning a natural history-themed trivia night at your local pub. To help you become a know-it-all, the Burke Blog brings you the next installment of our monthly feature:

 Future smarty pants, take note:

  • Even though Seattle is home to many publically-display totem poles (Pioneer Square, Pike Place Market, the Burke Museum), totem pole carving is not actually native to Western Washington. Totem poles were originally carved only by northern Northwest Coast people, such as the Haida, Tlingit, and Tsimshian of Southeast Alaska and British Columbia. Read more
  • There has never been a discovery of a dinosaur in Washington State. It is possible that dinosaur fossils exist in Washington, as the state includes some rocks of the appropriate age and origin, but to date none of them has yielded a dinosaur fossil.
  • Contrary to popular belief, the seeds of a chili pepper have nothing to do with spiciness. The level of spiciness of a pepper is based on the amount of capsaicin (cap-say-uh-sin), a chemical compound, in the pepper. Capsaicin is not found in pepper seeds, but is highly concentrated in the placental tissue that holds the seeds. Read more
  • A female lobster is called a hen. A male lobster is called a cock. [feel free to snicker about this. I did]
  • When the genus and species of a particular animal are the same, its scientific name is known as a tautonym. Examples of tautonyms are Bison bison (American Bison), Vulpes vulpes (Red fox), and Gulo gulo (Wolverine).
So now you know. And now you can impress people you meet by telling them something cool that they didn’t know. But we beg you, please don’t be totally obnoxious about it:

Posted by: Julia Swan