#1. The Guinea-pig is not a pig and does not come from Guinea:
Guinea-pigs are common pets about 25cm and 10 inches long. They’re short, have round ears and got no tails. Their soft coats are sometimes long and sometimes short. Guinea-pigs are related to certain rodents that live in burrows and rock holes in the Andes Mountains in South America. The Indians of South America used to eat them.
#2. Baghdad was once the centre of a huge empire stretching from North Africa to China:
Around 4000 BC, the area that is now Baghdad, and the capital of Iraq, formed part of ancient Babylonia. Later, the region was controlled by Persians, Greeks and Romans. When Abu Jafru al-Masru became leader of the Arab empire in 752, Baghdad was still a small village. However within 50 years, Baghdad had a population of more than a million and was a world centre of education.
#3. Birds are often more faithful than humans:
In some species in the bird world, a pair of birds that have chosen each other as mates will stay together for life. The Common Tern only chooses one mate and will never swap for another, often never mating again when the first partner dies. Geese are also faithful to their mates and there are cases of a gander pining away when his mate was killed.
#4. How big will the World’s population grow?
Every minute of the day and night, two hundred and forty children are born somewhere in the world, although there are deaths too. By the end of the day, there are about two hundred thousand plus children in the world. Between 1970 and 1975, it is estimated that the world’s population increased by three hundred and thirty-six millions. Surveys have shown that the total of the entire world’s urban population is doubling every 25 years.
#5. A blind, deaf and dumb girl graduated from University:
Hellen Keller was born in America in 1880. She became very ill and was blind and deaf by the time she was 19 months old. Shortly afterwards, she became mute as well. When she was 6, she received instruction from a remarkable teacher called Anne Sullivan who had herself suffered from a degree of blindness. Anne managed to teach Helen to read, speak and write so well that in 1900 Helen went to Radcliffe College and graduated with the highest honours 4 years later. Helen wrote several books, travelled widely, lectured widely and helped many blind people at a time when very little was being done for people with such terrible handicaps.
#6. The first biscuits were double-cooked and had to be broken with a mallet:
The original biscuits were required to be preserved without going stale, for the use of travelers, soldiers, and sailors. It was therefore baked twice over until it was several times harder than a rusk. “Hard tack”, as the sailors used to call it, quite frequently had to be broken with a mallet. The word itself comes straight from the French for “twice cooked”, which is “bis cuit”.
#7. A sweet, black root is used to hide the taste of medicine:
Liquorice is often used to hide the unpleasant taste of certain medicines, as well as being used for thin, black, sticky sweets. It is the concentrated extract from the root of the liquorice plant, which belongs to the same family as beans and peas. The word “liquorice” means “sweet root” in ancient Greek.
#8. Superstitions about cats:
To sailors, a black cat is a sure sign of foul weather ahead but tortoiseshell cats are considered a good sign of luck.
#9. Abraham Lincoln received eighty death threats before he was shot:
After the assassination of United States President Abraham Lincoln, eighty letters threatening his life were discovered in his desk. It is reported that the very morning of his death he said “I believe there are men who want to take my life. And I have no doubt they will do it”. He asked the secretary of war for a special bodyguard, but the guard had a lot to drink when the assassin John Wilkes Booth shot him at Ford’s Theatre, Washington.
#10. The Angel Gibril (Gabriel) gave a sacred black stone to Abraham:
In the city of Mecca, there is a great mosque and in the courtyard of the mosque, is a shrine known as the Ka’aba. Ka’aba literally means “the square building”. The building is covered by a black cloth embroidered with gold letters from the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam. Inside the Ka’aba, there is a black stone which was given to Ibrahim (Abraham) by the angel Gibril. Pilgrims to Mecca walk round the Ka’aba seven times and kiss the black stone as every Muslim is supposed to make a pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca at least once in his lifetime.