Never poke an elephant before breakfast

Lists of the “Odd and Unusual” are common and usually consist of folk wisdom, old wives tales, and common knowledge which is neither common nor knowledge.  Trivial as the following may be, it is intended to be fun and I’ve researched all of it.  Enjoy

George Washington’s service to his country didn’t end when he retired from the Presidency. After retiring to Mount Vernon, Washington was again called to public duty  when his former Vice President and successor, President Adams, named him commander of the American Army in mid-1799, responding to threatening noises from our former ally, France which was threatening to invade the new nation.  On learning the great Washington was back the French learned some manners.

Elephants pick up large sticks or small branches in order to scratch their behinds.

Elephants are the only animals with four knees;

Elephants always wake up in a bad mood

Giraffes also are known for being short tempered but it isn’t hard to understand why:  birth trauma.  Giraffe cows – if that is the proper term – always give birth standing up and the newborn calf is always a breech birth (tail end first).

Think about it.  Prior to birth, the calf has spent however many months in an ideal environment where it is always dark and  warm and and all its needs are met.  They have no knowledge of anything else.  All of a sudden, with no warning of any sort, they are summarily ejected from the womb into an extremely cold (for them) world of blinding light and go rocketing 10 feet to earth at 32 ft.per second /  per second before slamming into the ground butt first.

Only one mammal can’t jump — the elephant

Prior to painting the Sistine Chapel the only painting Michelangelo had done was during a brief stint as a student..

Gorillas were thought to be local tribal legends, much like Bigfoot is today, until explorer Paul du Chaillu became the first Westerner to see a live gorilla in equatorial Africa from 1856 to 1859. He brought dead specimens to the UK in 1861

The oldest known bottle of wine was buried with a Roman noble near the German city of Speyer 1,650 years ago and discovered in 1867. German wine expert Monika Christmann says: “It’s probably not spoiled, but it would not bring joy to the palate.”

The oldest meat ever tasted.  There are many anecdotal tales of explorers tasting thawed Mammoth and other prehistoric meat when those cadavers are pushed to the surface by thawing permafrost but the most credibly documented is of Alaska zoology professor Dale Guthrie successfully unearthing and preserving “Blue Babe,” a 36,000-year-old steppe bison found near Fairbanks in 1979, Guthrie’s team celebrated by simmering some leftover flesh from Babe’s neck “in a pot of stock and vegetables.” Guthrie reported “the meat was well aged but still a little tough, and gave the stew a strong Pleistocene aroma.”

There were no ponies in the Pony Express, just horses

The Virginia Code of 1930, now superseded by the Code of 1950, prohibited corrupt practices or bribery by any person other than political candidates

Buffalos mapped out the early railroad beds. Buffalo instinctively find the most level path from Point A to Point B, and after centuries of migration their trails were packed as hard and as nearly level as any human engineer of the time could hope for.  Building railroad beds that followed the buffalo trails saved a tremendous amount of time, effort, and money.

Giraffes and humans both have seven neck vertebrae

Washoe,  (1965 –2007), a female common chimpanzee, was the first non-human to learn to communicate using American Sign Language under the tutelage of Allen and Beatrix Gardner, a husband and wife team of psychologists at the University of Nevada, Reno.  She learned approximately 350 words of ASL (roughly that of a two- or three-year old).

At first, Washoe’s accomplishments were dismissed as “monkey see, monkey do”.  Those criticisms were proven unfounded when Washoe repeatedly demonstrated  the clinical standards of true language acquisition: 1.) engaging in humor, 2.) creating new words, 3.) asking questions, 4.) expressing emotions, and 5.) arranging words in a proper grammatical manner.

Perhaps most telling, the Gardiners worked with a succession of grad students who were usually unfamiliar, or at least not fluent, in ASL.   When a new grad student came into the Gardiner’s project Washoe would slow down her “conversations” and, if necessary, repeat herself so the student could keep up.

In late 1515, the King of Portugal, Manuel I, sent Pope Leo X a rhinoceros as a gift.  The ship carrying the animal sank at sea, within sight of land, and the pope never got his present.

Edwin Booth, John Wilkes Booth’s brother once saved the life of Abraham Lincoln’s son Robert.

Willie Nelson’s most critically acclaimed album wasn’t Country / Western but  Stardust (1978), a compilation of established standards from Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Broadway and Tin Pan Alley productions.

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