While we might not always think about just how remarkable our planet is, it’s big, beautiful, and full of surprises – with endless learning opportunities.

So whether you’re in a curious mood, looking for some trivia to inspire your next adventure, or want to pick up some new facts to share with friends and family, we’ve got you covered.

From polar deserts and humming giraffes to butterflies drinking turtle tears, here are 50 fascinating facts about the world.

1. A mantis shrimp can punch so fast with its clubs that it boils the water around it and creates a flash of light. Mantis shrimps are also incredibly intelligent and thought to be older than dinosaurs!

2. In the 1940s, a chicken lived for 18 months without a head. Mike, as the bird has come to be known, was beheaded by a farmer. However, most of his brain stem remained intact and a blood clot prevented him from bleeding out, so he didn’t die.

3. Egypt is known for its pyramids but Sudan has many more – 255, in fact, compared with 138 in Egypt.

Egypt is known for its pyramids

4. Octopus arms act like they have a mind of their own. This is because two-thirds of an octopus’ neurons are found in its arms, not its head. Neurons are what gather sensory information to make decisions and drive movements – so octopus arms can problem-solve by themselves without input from their brains.

5. You can hear rhubarb growing in the dark. The process of growing it in complete darkness forces it to develop so quickly (as much as an inch a day!) that you can actually hear the squeaks, creaks, and pops as it gets bigger.

6. One in 18 people have a third nipple caused by a mutation in inactive genes. A third nipple is known as a polythelia.

7. Butterflies and turtles have a symbiotic relationship. The butterflies drink turtle tears as a source of sodium and minerals – and, in turn, the turtles get their eyes cleaned.

8. Despite being made of ice, Antarctica is the world’s largest desert, covering roughly 5.5 million square miles. In comparison, the Sahara desert (which many believe is the largest) covers 3.6 million square miles. Though the two have completely different climates, Antarctica is considered a desert because it receives very little rainfall and nothing much grows there.

9. In Azerbaijan, there’s a natural gas fire that has been burning continuously for over 4,000 years. Known as the Yanar Dag, this mysterious flame emerges from the ground and has fascinated visitors for centuries.

10. Honey never spoils. Archaeologists have discovered pots of honey in ancient Egyptian tombs that are over 3,000 years old, and the honey is still perfectly edible!

Honey never spoils

11. Discovered in China, the microraptor is the smallest dinosaur ever found – it’s only 16 inches big!

12. Pine trees know when it’s about to rain. When its pine cones are closed, it’s because the air is humid, which can suggest rain is on the way.

13. Giraffes hum. However, they only do this at night time so scientists think they may use it as a ‘contact call’ to help them find each other in the dark.

Giraffes hum

14. New Zealanders have more pets per household than any other country – an estimated 68% of households have a pet!

15. Pineapple plants produce just one fruit and it could take 2-3 years to develop edible fruit, sometimes longer.

16. Armadillos are bulletproof. In fact, one Texan man ended up in hospital after trying to shoot one. The bullet bounced off the animal and hit him in the face.

Armadillos are bulletproof

17. A quarter of the bones in your body are in your feet.

18. Starfish don’t have a brain or blood. Instead, they pump seawater through their body, which contains the key nutrients needed for the starfish’s organs to function properly.

19. A single strand of spaghetti is called spaghetto.

20. Sunsets on Mars are often blue. This is caused by the Martian dust, which absorbs blue light more efficiently.

Sunsets on Mars are often blue

21. China produces the most eggplants in the world – 35.5 tons of them a year.

22. There’s a family photo on the Moon. It was left by Apollo 16 astronaut, Charles Duke in 1972; and is of him, his wife, and his two sons.

23. ‘Mellifluous’ is a sound that is pleasingly smooth and musical to hear.

24. Japan has over 300 Kit Kat flavours, including melon, wasabi, baked potato, rum and raisin, and vegetable juice.

Japan has over 300 Kit Kat flavours

25. The anatomy of a pig’s spine means that it can’t look straight to the sky.

26. A blue whale’s heartbeat can be heard more than two miles away. Blue whales weigh 130,000 to 150,000kg on average, with their hearts weighing around 180kg.

27. Lettuce is a member of the sunflower family.

28. Carpenter ants can become infected by a fungus called Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, which grows through its body; draining it of nutrients and taking over its mind. It forces the ant to leave its nest, seeking out conditions where the fungus can grow best. Eventually, once the fungus has killed the ant, it sends a fruiting stalk out through the base of its head; which it uses as a launchpad to infect new ants.

Carpenter ants

29. In Utah, birds have the right of way on public highways.

30. The bumblebee bat is the world’s smallest mammal. It lives in the limestone caves on the Khwae Noi River in Kanchanaburi Province of southwest Thailand, and has a head-to-toe body length of 1.14 to 1.29 inches and a wingspan of 5.1 to 5.7 inches.

31. Laid out flat, a child’s circulatory system – veins, arteries, and capillaries – is over 60,000 miles long. And, by the time we reach adulthood, this extends to 100,000 miles.

32. The first time that the word ‘period’ was used on TV to describe menstruation was in 1985 during a Tampax commercial starring Courtney Cox.

33. Glaciers and ice sheets hold about 69% of the world’s freshwater.

34. The world’s largest tornado ever recorded swept through El Reno in Oklahoma on May 31st, 2013. It was 2.6 miles wide and had wind speeds up to 300mph.

35. Dogs tend to start sniffing with their right nostril. If they smell danger, they continue sniffing with the right nostril. But if it’s a pleasant smell – like food or a mating partner – they shift to sniffing with the left nostril.

Dogs tend to start sniffing with their right nostril

36. According to National Geographic, boars have shown evidence of luxury behaviours, like washing their food before eating it. At Basel Zoo in Switzerland, zookeepers saw boars picking up sandy apples and bringing them to the nearby creek to wash them. They also washed whole dead chickens.

37. In 1930, Héctor Castro scored the winning goal for Uruguay in the last minute of the first-ever World Cup. He only had one arm as he accidentally cut off his right forearm with an electric saw as a teenager.

38. Despite the incredible size difference, sloths have more bones in their necks than giraffes. Giraffes have seven vertebrae, while sloths have 10.

39. Summer heat can cause the Eiffel Tower to expand by six inches.

Summer heat can cause the Eiffel Tower

40. Bamboo is the world’s fastest-growing plant. One species of bamboo can grow up to 35 inches in a single day, and reach full maturity in 90 days.

41. African buffalos vote on travel decisions. Adult females will stand up and look in a certain direction one at a time, before sitting down. The direction with the most amount of looks is the one that the herd travels in. Only adult females are allowed to vote and if the vote is divided, they may split up temporarily.

42. Owls don’t have eyeballs, they have eye tubes, which they can’t move back and forth – hence why they can turn their heads 270 degrees! They even have a special blood vessel system in their heads that keeps fresh blood circulating during times when a quick head turn cuts off circulation.

43. Cows kill more people than sharks – an average of 22 every year compared with four, respectively.

Cows kill more people than sharks

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44. The average person grows nearly 600 miles of hair in their lifetime.

45. Because Saturn is made up of gas and ice, the planet could float in water, despite its large size.

46. When guinea pigs get really excited, they ‘popcorn’. This means they jump around uncontrollably like popcorn pinging in a microwave. They often get the zoomies too!

47. We have eight muscles in our tongue – four that control the shape of the tongue and four that determine the position.

48. In the vacuum of space, metal can weld itself. Two pieces of the same metal will fuse together with just a little pressure—no heat required! This cosmic phenomenon, aptly named cold welding, occurs due to the absence of an atmosphere. Imagine astronauts casually sticking metal bits together like cosmic magnets.

49. Acacia trees, found across the African savannah, have an ingenious defence mechanism. When animals like antelopes munch on their leaves, these trees crank up their tannin production to toxic levels. But that’s not all! They emit a cloud of ethylene gas, which travels through the air and alerts neighbouring trees. Those trees then join the tannin party, creating a united front against leaf-munching invaders.

50. The Hercules beetle holds the title of the world’s longest insect. Its impressive size and strength make it a true marvel. Imagine encountering a beetle up to 30 cm long!

Final thoughts…

From time to time, in our busy lives, it can be fun to take a step back and marvel at some of the weird and wonderful things that our world has to offer. From bulletproof armadillos to polar deserts, there are plenty of fascinating, beautiful, and downright bonkers facts to uncover about our planet.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this list of 50 facts – but, the learning doesn’t have to stop there. Why not check out our article; 10 fascinating things to learn about in your spare time?

What was your favourite fascinating fact? Or perhaps you have a fact of your own you’d like to share. We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.