Category Archives: Trivia

“Non-Trivial Trivial” that is both educational and fun.

Do Monkeys Make Bridges?

It is often said that monkeys sometimes cross streams by means of monkey bridges. According to the popular notion, the monkeys take hold of one anothers tails and suspend themselves in a living rope from the limb of a tree on the bank of a river that they wish to cross. They begin to sway back and forth until they gain enough momentum to swing the lower end of the column to a tree on the opposite bank. The other end of the bridge is then released and swung across the stream. Naturalists are inclined to doubt these stories. Dr. William T. Hornaday, the noted zoologist, who for thirty years was director of the New York Zoological Park, expressed the opinion that the living monkey bridge is a myth. Still, he said, one should be very cautious in stating what animals never did and what they cannot do. Monkeys do hang on to I one another from time to time and frequently one will climb up the tail f of another. One monkey will sometimes even draw another up.  Dr. William M. Mann,  superintendent of the National Zoological Park, thinks the stories of monkeys making bridges by taking hold of one another may have been suggested by the habits of the spider monkeys of South America.  At any rate, these natural acrobats of the forest and jungle are the animals that usually figure in the- monkey bridge stories. They are very fond of taking hold of each other and performing all kinds of gymnastics. Their remarkable prehensile tails serve as a “fifth hand.” More than one writer has reported cases of the red howling monkeys of Central and South America spanning tree tops by linking hands and tails and forming a living chain.

Is Great Britain Part of Europe?

Great Britain, although an island, is so close to the continent of Europe that it is generally regarded as being a part of it.  Scientists are of the opinion that the British Isles, which are on what is known as the continental shelf,  were formerly joined to the mainland and were not separated from it until comparatively recent times, geologically speaking. The rest of the world regards Great Britain as a European nation, although the British people  themselves refer to continental Europe as “the Continent” to distinguish it from the British Isles.  Europe itself, strictly speaking, is not a continent, but merely part of the continent of Eurasia.

What is a berserker rage?

In Norse mythology Berserk was the nickname of the grandson of the eight-handed Starkadder. He always went into battle without armor and was famed for the reckless fury with which he fought. Ber-serk in old Scandinavian probably meant “bare-shirt,” that is, one clothed only in his shirt and not protected. by armor or heavier clothing, To be berserk was equivalent to “in one’s shirt sleeves.” Among those slain by Berserk was King Swafurlam, by whose daughter he bed twelve sons equal to himself in bravery. These sons of Berserk were called “berserkers,” a term that thus became synonymous with “fury” and “reckless courage.” Later berserker was applied to a class of heathen warriors who were supposed to be able to assume the form of bears and wolves, from which fact some etymologists mistakenly derive the term from berasark (“bear-shirt” or “armor of bearskin”). Dressed in furs these berserkers would fall into a frenzied rage, foam at the mouth and growl like wild beasts. They were said to have prodigious strength and to be invulnerable to fire and iron. From this latter myth we get berserker rage. In Modern English Usage, H. W. Fowler says that “beresark for berserker, is a corrupt modern form owing its existence to a probably false etymology.”

Who are the Anzacs?

This is a name often applied collectively to the people of Australia and New Zealand. It originated during the First World War. The Australian and New Zealand divisions in the British forces were merged into a single unit officially known as the “Australian-New Zealand Army Corps.” In popular usage this name was shortened to Anzac, being the-initial letters of the words composing the name. “When I took over the command of the Australian and New Zealand Corps in Egypt (in 1914),” wrote General Sir William Birdwood after the war, “I was asked to select a telegraphic-code address and I adopted the name Anzac.” In the following spring The Australian and New Zealand forces made their heroic landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula and to commemorate the event General Birdwood named the landing place Anzac Cove. Originally only those Australian and New Zealand soldiers who fought at Oallipoli were caned Anzacs, and they jealously guarded the name, but it was gradually extended first to other members of the corps and finally to any Australian or New Zealander. The Anzac Area, a small district on the western side of the Oallipcli Peninsula, was dedicated after the war as a permanent memorial to the valor of the members of the Callipoli expeditionary army who vainly tried to take the western defenses of Constantinople in 1915-1916. By the Treaty of Lausarine, signed in 1923, Turkey granted this area in perpetuity to France, Italy and the British Empire, and these three powers agreed to appoint custodians for the graves and cemeteries. Turkey, however, controls access to the district, which under the terms of the agreement cannot be fortified or built up in any way except to provide shelter for the sale use of the custodians. In 1916 Australia and New Zealand by statute forbade the commercial use of Anzac in any trade, business, profession or calling without government permission. During the Second World War the familiar name for the Australians was Aussies. What queen reigned after death of Inez de Castro, wife of Dom Pedro, King of Portugal in the fourteenth century, is often referred to as the Qu(:en who “reigned after death.” . She became the morganatic wife of Dam Pedro while he was heir to the,throne. The Prince’s father, the King, seriously objected to the marriage. He feared the powerful Castro family; besides, Inez was believed to be of illegitimate birth. In 1355 Inez was stabbed to death supposedly at the instigation of the old King. The outraged Dam Pedro started a rebellion that did not subside until the Prince was given a large share in the government of Portugal. When the old King died in 1357 Darn Pedro succeeded to the throne. According to tradition, the new King had the body of his murdered wife exhumed, placed on a throne and crowned. All the nobles were compelled to pass and do obeisance to the dead Queen by kissing her withered hand. Then Inez, the “Queen who reigned after death,” was interred with great pomp in a beautiful sarcophagus of white marble. Shapur II, King of Persia from 310 to 370 A.D., was crowned before he was born. He was the posthumous son of Hormuzd II, whose born sons were all lolled or imprisoned by the nobles immediately after the old King’s death. The unborn child was then formally declared King as Shapur II.

What is the origin of the bridal veil?

The wedding or bridal veil is believed to be a survival of an ancient superstition dating back to the time of the Greeks and Romans, if not much earlier. It was first worn to conceal and protect the bride from evil spirits that it was thought would harm her if she were not veiled. Perhaps this was the origin of the general custom of wearing veils, which still prevails to a great extent among women of the Orient. Bride, it is supposed, is derived from an ancient Teutonic root signifying “to cook.” Bridal as an adjective meaning “pertaining to a bride or newly married wife” mayor may not be derived from bridal in the sense of a wedding party. The latter term is derived from two old English roots meaning “wedding” and “ale.” Bride-ale is still a historical term. Bride-ales (bridals) were wedding festivals at which tile guests were served ale. It is probable that the adjective bridal was formed from bride under the influence of the older noun bridal.