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.”

Why are ultraconservatives called Bourbons?

The Bourbons were a royal family who ruled France from 1589 to 1848,with interruptions caused by the French Revolution and the Napoleonic regime. Members of the Bourbon family also ruled for centuries in Naples, Parrna and Spain. The family was first heard of in the ninth century when its head, Baron Aimar, was lord of the castle and seigniory of Bourbon-l’Archambault in central France in the present department of Villier. Through the centuries the autocratic Bourbons became noted for their opposition to all change and their firm adherence to the ancient regime (“the old order”). In 1796 a French naval officer named Charles Louis Etienne, Chevalier de Panat said of the Bourbons: “They have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.”

Do trees die of old age?

No close parallel exists between trees and animals in respect to maturity and longevity. Trees do not die of old age in the same sense that higher animals and human beings do. In “The Deacon’s Masterpiece” Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote: In fact, there’s nothing that keeps its youth, So far as I know, but a tree and truth. Some authorities are inclined to believe that death of trees results only from accidents, disease or other unnatural causes. Few trees are permitted to die of “old age.” They are generally killed. by storms, insects, blights. soil erosion, fire or the ax and saw of man. Most trees die of disease, and the disease usually takes the form of decay in the trunk, which shuts off the water and food supply from the soil. Still there is some reason for believing that trees do have a sort of life cycle or longevity period and that they would grow old and die as the result of the ravages of time even if not destroyed by unnatural or artificial means. Of course this span of life or life cycle, which is much longer in some species than in others, is very indefinite and cannot be calculated. with any degree of accuracy. A human being reaches his maximum height at a comparatively early age. In fact in Iater years his height often decreases somewhat. But a tree continues to grow as long as it is alive, although after it reaches a certain size, depending on the species and other factors, the rate of growth slows down. Some trees live and continue to grow for thousands of years. The giant redwoods of. California, famous as the oldest living things on the earth, have virtually achieved “the miracle of perpetual growth.” A few individual trees of this species are estimated to be between 4000 and 5000 years of age.