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At first glance, plants are a mundane part of life. From the grass on your front lawn to the towering trees, they cover the Earth in a blanket of green and have become an expected, yet ignored, part of our existence.

It seems that they do nothing else other than grow and look pretty in our flowerpots. Yet, plants hold a hidden world among their leaves. They have a host of fascinating abilities that were once unknown.

10 They Help You Live Longer

The benefits of having pets is well-documented. Who knew the same could apply to plants?

A study conducted by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that simply having plants around the house was enough to lower the death rate by 12 percent. More than 100,000 US women were included in the study. Those with the most greenery around their homes—such as grass, trees, and bushes—were found to face lower rates of depression, kidney disease, respiratory disease, and cancer.

Reasons for this surprising trend could stem from having more space to socialize or exercise in, lower levels of air pollution, and improved mental health. Or it may simply be due to nature’s naturally soothing effect.

“It is important to know that trees and plants provide health benefits in our communities as well as beauty. The finding of reduced mortality suggests that vegetation may be important to health in a broad range of ways,” stated Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.[1]

Turns out that the elixir of life doesn’t come in the form of a magical potion or fountain. Instead, it’s in the shape of your friendly potted fern.

9 They Contribute To Pollution

The phrase “alien invader” invokes images of a little green man from space armed with lasers and bent on world domination. What most people don’t know is that it also describes a very fickle, stubborn, and voracious plant that is hell-bent on terrorizing the South.

Kudzu, like peanuts, is a member of the legume family. Unlike peanuts, it is one of the most invasive species in the world, growing at a rate of 1 meter (3 ft) every three days. First brought to the US in 1876, it now spreads at a rate of 50,000 hectares per year, smothering the land and eating its way through houses, trees, utility poles, and delicate forests.

Although the fact that it destroys entire ecosystems is devastating enough, kudzu is also contributing to the rising level of greenhouse gases. Soil is made up of vast amounts of carbon. This carbon comes naturally as organisms, matter, and wastes decay into the ground, locking it in like a reservoir. As time passes, greenhouse gases are released into the air as soil microbes break down the matter.[2]

Instead of helping the environment, kudzu changes the rate at which the matter degrades and increases the amount of carbon released from the soil. Its leaves and stems are easier for the microbes to break down. In the overgrown forests in which it invades, kudzu encourages the microbes to digest plant matter faster, releasing up to 4.8 tons of carbon per year. This is startling enough because plants are often seen as nature’s warriors that are armed to clean the air.

8 They Can ‘Hear’

Being eaten alive is one of the worst ways to go. Thankfully, plants lack the capabilities to know that they are being washed, cut, and prepped for a salad. Or do they?

Researchers at the University of Missouri–Columbia have found that plants actually put up defenses in response to the snacking sounds of caterpillars. In the experiment, caterpillars were placed onto a cabbage-like species. Then, the caterpillars were removed and vibrations of the munching noises were recorded and played back.

In a surprising discovery, it was revealed that the plants actually produced mustard oil in response to the perceived attack, a chemical meant to ward off predators. They were even able to distinguish between vibrations that meant danger and others made by wind and insect mating calls. It is hypothesized that as the sound waves make the leaves vibrate, sensitive proteins within the leaves help them perceive the stimulus as noise.

Heidi Appel, a research scientist in the study, explained, “Our work is the first example of how plants respond to an ecologically relevant vibration. We found that feeding vibrations signal changes in the plant cells’ metabolism, creating more defensive chemicals that can repel attacks from caterpillars.”[3]

Perhaps sound can replace pesticides, becoming the next form of weapon against pests.

7 They Water Themselves

What’s stranger than a plant that pollutes and a plant that hears? One that waters itself with no hands necessary.

The desert rhubarb plant possesses this ability, which would make any gardener jump with joy. It even harvests 16 times more water than surrounding species.

Like any other desert plant, the species has evolved to brave the tough, searing temperatures and does so in a crafty way. Each of its one to four leaves can reach up to 71 centimeters (28 in). The wax-covered ridges on the leaves’ surface act like mountains that channel water toward the single root in the plant’s center.[4]

The mechanism allows it to gather as much water as a plant in the Mediterranean, along with soaking the ground beneath it to a depth of at least 10 centimeters (4 in). Perhaps plants are smarter than we give them credit for.

6 They Transform Into Beating Hearts

We’ve come a long way in the medical field. The rise of civilization gave way to a series of scientific breakthroughs, with new discoveries lighting up the path to bigger and better accomplishments. In fact, some of that road is paved with spinach!

Scientists were able to transform a spinach leaf into human heart tissue that beats liquid through its plant veins, overcoming the problem that laboratories faced in making vascular systems with tiny, delicate blood vessels. These capillaries are only the length of a hair’s width. Despite their size, they have a very important job to do: Without them, the cells in your organs wouldn’t be able to get the blood they need.

Luckily, spinach is crammed with a system of veins that transport nutrients around its tissue. Plant cells are removed from the leaf, leaving behind a ghostly white frame of cellulose that is then dipped into live human cells. Human tissue grew around the frame, becoming one with the tiny veins and transforming the spinach into a beating miniature heart.[5]

In time, this may benefit patients with damaged heart tissue from cardiac arrest or other illnesses.

5 They Eat Each Other

Though they have often been the epitome of vegetarianism and veganism, plants are far from peaceful. In the case of Venus flytraps and pitcher plants, they are predators of the insect world, preying on its unsuspecting inhabitants. In other cases, however, they prey on their own kind.

Bladderworts live in rivers, lakes, and soggy soil. Like Venus flytraps, these oddly named plants boast traps of their own: Underwater, their leaves hide hundreds of tiny, hollow sacs. The pressure inside is lower than the pressure outside. When unsuspecting worms or larvae brush up against a trigger hair, a secret door jerks open and water flows inside, carrying the prey with it to its doom.

But among the insects and nematodes, biologists have discovered something strange: algae inside the bladderworts’ stomachs. Had they been accidentally sucked in? Or were they part of the plants’ diet?

Marianne Peroutka and her colleagues at the University of Vienna discovered that algae made up about 80 percent of the traps’ contents in certain conditions. The percentage was even higher among bladderworts living in soft water (where there is a low amount of ions and minerals).

Fewer animals live there, which means fewer prey. The bladderworts may make up for it by digesting algae, giving us a firsthand glimpse at the existence of omnivorous plants.[6]

4 They Cry For Help

Though they can’t talk, plants use chemicals that act as a communication device. When under attack by bacteria, for example, the plants call to their roots for help. The roots then emit an acid that sends beneficial bacteria to their aid.

Harsh Bais and his colleagues at the University of Delaware experimented by infecting the leaves of thale cress with a pathogen. Those whose roots were protected with the microbe Bacillus subtilis, however, survived without a scratch.

A long-distance transmission was detected in which the leaves called to the roots for help. Thanks to the Bacillus, the roots secreted malic acid, a chemical that attracts the microbe and strengthens the defense barriers.

The study revealed that, instead of acting as defenseless targets, many plants actually have an effective weapon up their sleeve. “Plants are a lot smarter than we give them credit for,” said Bais.[7]

3 They Learn From Experience

As revealed before, plants aren’t as brainless as they seem. In fact, new research reveals that they may even be intelligent.

Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, explained that “they have analogous structures . . . ways of taking all the sensory data they gather in their everyday lives . . . integrate it and then behave in an appropriate way in response. And they do this without brains, which, in a way, is what’s incredible about it.”[8]

Like humans, they can “hear” the crunching of a hungry caterpillar and “call” to microbes for help against pests. Pollan also believes that they can detect water and gravity, much like a human, and shift the direction in which their roots grow if they come across a rock in the ground.

But do they feel pain?

“You can put a plant out with a human anesthetic,” Pollan continues. As remarkable as it sounds, it does not prove that plants sense pain. But while they lack nerve cells, plants do send electrical signals and secrete neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, that are found in the human brain.

This suggests evidence for another eye-opening claim: Plants can actually learn and remember. In fact, biologist Monica Gagliano conducted an experiment in which mimosa plants were dropped from a height without being hurt. When touched, the leaves folded in on themselves. After the fifth or sixth drop, however, the plants stopped responding and seemed to “learn” that they were in no danger, even retaining the information for up to a month.

Pollan explains, “The line between plants and animals might be a little softer than we traditionally think of it as.”

2 They ‘Recognize’ Their Siblings

Researchers in Canada found out that when sea rockets are grown together with siblings, they “play nice” and purposefully keep their roots small and close by. They twine their leaves together. But with an unrelated plant, the story is different: The sea rocket competes for nutrients by developing longer roots and grows rigid so that its leaves do not touch those of the other plant.

Researcher Harsh Bais used thale cress to search for ways in which they identify each other as siblings and not as strangers. Seedlings were either exposed to root secretions from themselves, their family members, or unrelated plants. The length of their lateral roots was then measured. It was concluded that the roots from the plants exposed to strangers were longer.

The study may prove helpful for gardeners. Bais stated, “Often, we’ll put plants in the ground next to each other, and when they don’t do well, we blame the local garden center where we bought them or we attribute their failure to a pathogen. But maybe there’s more to it than that.”[9]

1 Plant Telephones

Ecologist Roxina Soler and her colleagues discovered that plants can be used as miniature communication devices—not by humans but by the bugs that live both aboveground and belowground. This leads to what we can guess is an interesting conversation.

When they move in underneath the soil to feast on the plant’s roots, the bugs send a chemical signal up the leaves to warn those aboveground that the plant is occupied. This avoids the awkward situation of having to compete for the same plant.

It seems that, through natural selection, the underground and aboveground insects developed this crafty mechanism to detect each other. The phone lines also benefit parasitic wasps that search for places to lay their eggs. The leaves secrete chemicals that communicate whether or not the roots are vacant.[10]

Although it is unknown how universal this system is, the ability for bugs to use plants as biophone lines proves interesting nonetheless.


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Bizarre

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It is rare to hear of someone suing himself. So rare that no one has even bothered to form a word for it yet. Perhaps we could just call it “self-litigation.”

The obvious problem with self-litigation is that the plaintiff is also the defendant and, depending on the circumstances, the only witness. Then there’s the issue of representation. Do you hire one lawyer or two? Can you represent yourself, or is that a conflict of interest?

Despite its rarity and the possible complications, tales of self-litigation have been reported since at least 1899.

10 Curtis Gokey

In 2006, Curtis Gokey slammed Lodi, California, with a $3,600 lawsuit after a dump truck owned by the city crashed into his car. The lawsuit would not have raised eyebrows except that Gokey was the one driving the dump truck. It meant he was practically suing himself for an accident he caused.

The city turned down Gokey’s claim because he obviously couldn’t sue himself. The case did not end there, though. Gokey’s wife, Rhonda, took it up and sued the city and, by extension, her husband, for $4,800—$1,200 more than what her husband had asked for. Lodi city attorney Steve Schwabauer stated that this was also impossible.[1]

Under California law, a husband and wife were considered as one. While the wife could sue for certain things like divorce, she could not sue for negligence, which was what happened in this instance. Rhonda claimed that she had every right to sue the city because their dump truck damaged her vehicle. In her view, whoever was driving it was irrelevant.

The city prevailed.

9 Oreste Lodi

In 1985, Oreste Lodi dragged himself to a California court over an estate he owned. According to Lodi, he had tried to retrieve from himself an estate that he owned and gave to himself to manage, but he refused to release it to himself. The court dismissed the case, but the determined Lodi appealed the decision.

He filed two briefs for the appeal, one supporting himself for wanting to retrieve his estate from himself and the other against himself for not releasing his estate to himself. Again, the court dismissed the appeal because the plaintiff and defendant needed to be different people. In this instance, Lodi would have been the winner and loser no matter what decision was reached by the court.

The court categorized the appeal as frivolous and initially considered whether Lodi needed to pay for filing a frivolous appeal. It later decided that each Lodi—the plaintiff and defendant—had to pay for the appeal. This means Lodi paid twice.[2]

It remains unclear why Lodi sued himself, but it is suspected to have something to do with taxes. At the time he pressed charges against himself, he sent a copy of the litigation to the Internal Revenue Service.

8 Lothar Malskat

In 1952, an artist called Lothar Malskat sued himself for art forgery. The backstory could be traced to 1942 when Britain bombed Lubeck, Germany. The bombing destroyed almost every building in the city, including the Marienkirche (St. Mary’s Church) that was built in the 1200s. The church sustained serious damage but its walls remained standing. The bombing revealed previously unseen Gothic frescoes that were hidden underneath its walls during construction.

After the war, the German government and the church commissioned Dietrich Fey, a famous art restorer, and Lothar Malskat, his assistant, to fix the frescoes. What Fey and Malskat never mentioned was that the frescoes had seriously deteriorated. They turned to dust on touch. However, the duo went to work and revealed what was initially thought to be the restored church paintings in 1951.

Everyone was impressed, and Fey and Malskat went on to do several other restorations. But Malskat was not content. Fey got all the credit for the restorations while Malskat got nothing. Fey also got the bulk of the money while Malskat received only a small portion, sometimes just one-fifth. This made Malskat reveal the fraud and, at the same time, sue himself for fraud.[3]

No one believed Malskat until he pointed out that Mary Magdalene was not wearing shoes in the new painting even though she wore shoes in the original. The faces of the king and monks had also been replaced by those of random people, and a painting of an Austrian actress was added to the background. The frescoes also included some turkeys even though there were no turkeys in Germany in the 13th century.

The church removed the frescoes, leaving a small portion as a reminder of the forgery. Malskat received 18 months imprisonment for his involvement. He never got the fame he always wanted and remained a struggling artist until his death.

7 Robert Lee Brock

In 1995, Robert Lee Brock, who was serving time at the Indian Creek Correctional Center in Chesapeake, Virginia, sued himself for $5 million. However, he demanded that the state pay the damages because he had no money to give himself.

According to the lawsuit, Brock had drunk alcohol on July 1, 1993, which was against his religious beliefs. Besides, it made him commit a crime for which he was arrested. At the time that the lawsuit was filed, Brock was serving a 23-year sentence for burglary and grand larceny.

Judge Rebecca Beach Smith dismissed the case. While she agreed that Brock had been innovative in his approach to getting justice, it was ridiculous.[4]

6 Larry Rutman

On August 5, 1996, the South China Morning Post reported that Larry Rutman of Owensboro, Kentucky, had sued himself for $300,000 and won. However, he will not pay himself a dime. The bills will be picked by his insurance company.

According to the news, Rutman was throwing his boomerang when it hit his head. The accident supposedly altered his memory and increased his sex drive.

Initially, Rutman wanted to sue the boomerang maker for the accident, but his lawyer told him to sue himself instead. He did and won. According to the judgment, Rutman was to pay himself $300,000 for causing “body damage through negligence and carelessness” to himself.[5] As interesting as this incident sounds, there are claims that it never happened.

5 David Jennings

On January 8, 1899, The New York Times reported the story of David Jennings from Fort Scott, Kansas, who had sued himself and won. Jennings was the treasurer of Labette County, Kansas.

He sued himself after refusing to accept a tax payment he had made to himself. The tax was for a property that he used for his business. The court sided with Jennings and ordered that he should not force himself to pay any tax to himself.[6]

4 John Fred Heiniger

On June 26, 1912, the Los Angeles Herald reported the story of John Fred Heiniger who had won a lawsuit he filed against himself to quiet title. “Quiet title” is legal terminology that refers to establishing a person’s title to a property while “quieting” any other claims or challenges to that ownership from others.

The newspaper did not provide any backstory about the case except that Heiniger had prevailed in court. Technically, this also meant that he lost the lawsuit.

Besides being the plaintiff and defendant in the case, Heiniger was also the only witness and the process server (the person who delivers or “serves” court papers to the defendant or others in a legal action).[7]

3 Thomas Prusik-Parkin

In 2003, Thomas Prusik-Parkin sued himself while trying to fraudulently recover a house that he had lost after defaulting on a mortgage. The whole thing started in 1996 when his mother, Irene, transferred a house to him. Thomas took out a $200,000 mortgage on the property to start a business. The venture failed, and Thomas defaulted on his mortgage. The house was sold to Samir Chopra in 2003.

Coincidentally, Irene died the same year. However, Thomas gave the funeral director a fake social security number to keep Irene’s death hidden from the government. At the same time, he took the $700 she received from Social Security every month.

But Thomas did not stop there. He was not ready to lose the house, so he claimed that the deed transfer from Irene to him in 1996 had been forged—by him. Therefore, he argued that he couldn’t have legally taken out a mortgage on the house.

However, Thomas did not make the claim as Thomas but as Irene. To keep up the ruse, he sued himself for the forgery. To an outsider, it was Irene suing her son. But to Thomas, he was suing himself. At the same time, Chopra and (the real) Thomas dragged themselves to court, with each one accusing the other of fraud. Investigators became suspicious and did some digging. They discovered that Irene was dead.

To confirm their suspicions, they set up a meeting between Irene and Chopra. Interestingly, Irene attended the meeting. She was dressed in lady’s clothes, complete with painted nails and lipstick. She also had an oxygen tank.

However, investigators were not fooled. They were sure that Irene was dead and even had a picture of her tombstone as evidence. Apparently, Thomas was the one dressed in Irene’s clothing. The moment the scam was revealed, Thomas mentioned that he was his mother because his mother had died in his arms.

This was not the first time that Thomas had dressed up as Irene. Earlier, he had worn her clothes, wig, and sunglasses on a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew her license. He was handed a 13-year sentence on May 3, 2012. Mhilton Rimolo, Thomas’s accomplice who often followed the fake “Irene” to banks and pretended to be “her” nephew, received a three-year sentence.[8]

2 Emert Wyss

In 2005, Illinois attorney Emert Wyss mistakenly sued himself. Three years earlier, his client Carmelita McLaughlin had purchased a house, which she later refinanced. However, the mortgage company handling repayment passed responsibility to another mortgage company, Alliance Mortgage.

Wyss saw an opportunity and advised McLaughin to sue Alliance Mortgage for what he called “illegal fees.” It was agreed that Wyss would receive 10 percent of the settlement paid to McLaughlin if the case was successful. Wyss only realized he was suing himself after Alliance Mortgage revealed that Centerre Title Company—which charged the fees that Wyss called “illegal”–was owned by Wyss.

The court determined that Wyss and the Centerre Title Company had to be parties to the lawsuit in order for the case to proceed. As a result, Wyss could no longer act as counsel for McLaughlin, so he quietly moved to the other side to become the defendant in a lawsuit he started. The judge later dismissed Wyss as defendant because he and the Centerre Title Company could be treated as different entities.

A move to sanction Wyss was abandoned after he agreed not to charge the Centerre Title Company any attorney fees. It didn’t matter anyway as he would have been the one paying himself.[9]

1 Barbara Bagley

In 2015, 55-year-old Barbara Bagley sued herself over an accident she caused in December 2011. On the fateful day, she was driving in the Nevada desert when she crashed the vehicle. The impact threw her passenger and husband, Bradley Vom Baur, into a bush and seriously injured him. He died 10 days later.

Barbara demanded that the insurance company compensate her for the medical and funeral bills of her late husband. The insurance company refused. They argued that Barbara was not eligible for any compensation because she caused the accident. However, they were ready to pay for the car. A Utah appeals court ruled that Barbara could sue herself to receive compensation from the insurance company.

So Barbara (the widow and heir of the late Vom Baur) sued Barbara (the driver) for negligence. The complication of such legal action is that Barbara will need to provide evidence against herself to prove that she was negligent while driving.

She hired a lawyer to represent Barbara (the widow). Barbara (the driver) is represented by the insurance company’s attorneys because they would have to pay the judgment if Barbara (the driver) loses the case.

But that’s not all. Barbara is also the personal representative of her husband’s estate. That Barbara is also suing Barbara (the driver). So Barbara is two plaintiffs and one defendant in the same lawsuit.[10]

As far as we know, the case has not been decided yet. But there is a bit of good news. The couple’s dog was in the car at the time of the accident. The dog ran away but was found almost two months later in good condition. No word on whether the dog is suing anyone.


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General Knowledge

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Solving crimes was a lot harder before DNA testing. Detectives today have a whole arsenal of crime scene investigation tools and gadgets to help them prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but it wasn’t always that easy.

Crime investigators have been around for thousands of years. All the way back in ancient Egypt, there were men hired to solve crimes. The Egyptians kept incredibly detailed records about it—and because of that, we have a pretty good idea what it was like to be a detective more than 3,000 years ago.

10 Trained Monkeys Would Attack Thieves

Ideally, a crime would be stopped before it was committed. Most of the police force in ancient Egypt were posted as guards around the cities, keeping an eye on the tombs and the markets to make sure nobody got out of line.

It was a pretty good deterrent. After all, if you got caught breaking the law in ancient Egypt, you might just end the day with an attack monkey on your face.

Guards in ancient Egypt would often have trained animals with them. Most of the time, they were dogs, but more than a few walked around with monkeys on leashes, poised to attack. There’s even a picture of them in action in one servant’s tomb. It shows a thief at a market trying to make his getaway, only to have an attack monkey on a leash tackle his leg, pulling him down to the ground and holding him in place until help arrived.[1]

9 Snitching Was Mandatory By Law


When the detectives were called in, their jobs weren’t easy. Tracking down a criminal with ancient Egyptian technology can be tough to do without a good witness. So, the Egyptian courts made sure they had a witness by laying out serious penalties for failing to report a crime.[2]

When Ramses III was assassinated, the police didn’t just round up the people responsible. They rounded up their butlers and servants, as well. They’d had plenty of chances to overhear the conspiracy, the courts ruled, and their failure to report it made them criminals. As punishment, their ears were cut off—since, as far as the courts were concerned, they weren’t making good use of them, anyway.

But you didn’t have to overlook a plot to overthrow the king to get in trouble. Any failure to report a crime carried heavy consequences, and that was a serious motivator.

One man, after hearing his boss for conspiring to rob a tomb, immediately sent a letter ratting him out. In his letter, he made it clear that it was fear of punishment that motivated him, writing: “I report them to my lord, for it were a crime for one like me to hear such words and conceal them.”

8 Ancient Egypt Had Crime Scene Investigators


Most investigations started with somebody ratting someone out. A citizen would get in line outside the court to complain about his neighbor, and if it was a serious enough crime, an investigator would be sent out on the job.

These investigations were surprisingly thorough. They didn’t just draw straws or go off a hunch—they would round up suspects, questions witnesses, investigate the crime scene, and even arrange reenactments to test theories about the crime. They even had detailed records of past accusations they could check to monitor peoples’ criminal histories.

When a tomb was robbed during the reign of Ramses IX, he sent out a team of investigators to check every single tomb in the area, just in case the thieves had broken in anywhere else.[3] The team found the tunnel that the thieves had used to break in, measured its width and length, and even made educated guesses on the tools they’d used to get in.

Then they went to work rounding up suspects. They checked the city records for people with a knowledge of mining and a criminal history of robbery, brought them in, and started their investigation there.

7 Suspects And Witnesses Were Beaten Until They Talked

When it came time to get answers, though, the detectives didn’t exactly play nice. They just beat people senseless until they confessed.

They were very cavalier about torturing people. In the court records we have today, they very casually talked about it, with one quickly noting that the “examination was held by beating with a double rod.”

Typically, they’d tie the person to a stake and beat his hands and feet until he gave them the answers they wanted.[4] If he denied all wrongdoing, they’d beat him again—or, as they worded it in one document, the witness would be “further examined with a rod.”

This wasn’t limited to suspects. Sometimes, witnesses who had done nothing wrong would be beaten until they gave their side of the story, especially if they had a reason to protect the accused. There are records of suspects’ sons, slaves, and wives being pulled out of their homes and beaten with a rod until they told the police exactly what they’d seen.

6 Confessions Were Compared To The Evidence


That all might sound barbaric today, but to the Egyptians’ credit, they did realize that beating prisoners could lead to false confessions. That’s why they spent so much time investigating crime scenes. They wanted to make sure these people weren’t just saying anything they wanted to hear.

Criminals’ testimonies would be compared to what they’d found at the crime scenes. Or, if a gang had worked together as a team, they would be separated before they were tortured to make sure their stories were the same.[5] If all the details matched up, they knew they had the right people.

In one case, a man who had confessed to robbing a tomb was blindfolded and carried out to the valley where the robbery had taken place. Once he was there, the vizier who’d questioned him showed him rows upon rows of tombs. The suspect had to show him which one he had robbed so that they could see if he’d point at the right one.

5 Witnesses Had To Describe How They Would Be Mutilated If They Lied


It would have been easy to lie and feign ignorance, of course, but the consequences for lying were often worse than the consequences for the crime itself. In the case above, the coppersmith was warned that if the investigators were satisfied that he had lied, his nose and ears would be cut off, and his body would be stretched apart on the rack.

Threats like these were fairly common in ancient Egypt. When a witness gave a testimony in court, they wouldn’t swear an oath on the Bible like we do today. They’d outline in graphic detail exactly how the court could torture them if they found they’d lied.[6]

The tortures varied. The judges would make them up on the spot, based on how serious they felt the crime was and whether the witness was rich or poor.

One woman was ordered to swear before the court: “Should witnesses be brought against me [ . . . ] I shall be liable to 100 blows.” Another was ordered to declare, “Should we speak falsely, the servants shall be taken away from us.” And a poor field laborer was ordered to tell the truth “on pain of mutilation.”

4 Corruption Was Rampant


All this investigation would be a lot of work—and there’s a lot of reason to believe that if you weren’t important, the courts didn’t bother doing much about it. There’s every indication that bribery and corruption were rampant in the ancient Egyptian courts, and a wealthy man could get the verdict he wanted by slipping the judge a few golden coins.

An Egyptian writer wrote a song begging the god Amun to help out the poor that gives a little insight into how people saw their legal system. In it, he complains that “the court extorts” the people in it, demanding “silver and gold for the clerks” in exchange for justice.

It was a major political problem. The head of Tutankhamun’s army put the judges in the country on trial for corruption, declaring: “They will not show mercy and be compassionate on the day they will judge the poor.” Those he convicted had their noses cut off and were sent off into exile.

But more than 200 years later, Rameses XI was still struggling with the same problem. When two policemen were accused of framing an innocent man, his general sent an order to “put them in two baskets and they shall be thrown into the water at night.”[7]

He wanted to get rid of the problem before word got out that the police were unjust. The next words of the letter read: “Do not let anybody in the land find out!”

3 Infidelity Could Be Punished By Death


Divorce court was brutal. In ancient Egypt, anyone could take anyone else to court for having an affair. Unlike most of their neighbors, this wasn’t a right reserved for men. They let women sue their husbands for infidelity and divorce. They even let people sue random neighbors in their town who they thought were cheating on their wives.

The punishment was severe. If a woman was found guilty of cheating on her husband, she could have her nose cut off or, in some cases, could even be burned alive. Men, it seems, never got the death penalty for infidelity, but breaking the marriage bonds could still get him 1,000 blows and a writ of divorce.

In one case, an Egyptian official describes catching a mob prowling through the streets, yelling out that they’ve “come to beat up” a man in town who was caught sleeping with a woman who wasn’t his wife. After hearing them out, the official said in a letter, he decided to just let them do it.

“Indeed, [even] if I can repulse them this time, I shall not be able to repulse them again,” he wrote. Instead, he just admonished the girl for sleeping with a married man and ordered his men to let the beating happen and keep it quiet.

“When this letter reaches you,” the letter ends, “do not go to Neferti with this matter.”[8]

2 Even If You Were Innocent, You Were Labeled A Criminal


The overwhelming majority of court cases in ancient Egypt ended with a guilty verdict. There only a handful of records of people leaving the courts as free men, and even then, they weren’t left off free.

One court record describes a man named Amenkhau who was repeatedly beaten by the police. No matter how hard they hit, he kept insisting: “I haven’t seen anything. Whatever I’ve seen you have heard from my mouth.”[9] When no amount of torture would loosen his tongue, they decided he was probably telling the truth and let him go.

He wasn’t totally free, though. Even after he was found innocent, the accusation was permanently kept in the record books with the words “great criminal” next to his name.

That was just how it was done in ancient Egypt. If someone was accused of a crime, they believed, they’d probably done something wrong. And so, even if it was clear that you were innocent, you were labeled a “great criminal” for life.

1 Toward The End, They Just Let A Statue Decide

The above entries, at least, are how Egypt laid down the law during their prime. Sometime around 1000 BC, though, they gave up on this whole system of law and justice and settled in for one that was completely and totally insane.

In the last several hundred years of ancient Egypt’s power, the priests of Amun had taken over most of the country, including the legal system.[10] Whenever a charge was filed against someone, they decided the verdict by asking a statue what to do.

The priests would ask a statue of Amun questions and watch how it moved to get their answers. If the statue moved forward, they told people it was saying “yes,” but if it moved backward, it was saying “no.”

Of course, the statue wasn’t really moving on its own. Secretly, they had a man inside or behind it pretending to be a god.

Sometimes, there wouldn’t even be an investigation. A court record from this time shows that in the trial of a man named Thutmose, they just put two tablets in front of the statue and asked Amun to move toward the verdict he wanted. They didn’t just say “guilty” or “not guilty”—the tablets were to decide whether they should bother investigating the case at all.

Thutmose, it seems, had some friends in the priesthood. In the new Egypt ruled by the corrupt priests, he was let go without a single witness being questioned.


Mark Oliver

Mark Oliver is a regular contributor to Listverse. His writing also appears on a number of other sites, including The Onion’s StarWipe and Cracked.com. His website is regularly updated with everything he writes.

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Lifestyle

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Drinking has always been one of America’s favorite pastimes. Bars, taverns, pubs, and the like have been around since the earliest parts of history. The intersection of various cultures throughout time has led to the exchange of various liquors and recipes all over the world.

This sharing of liquors has led to a cornucopia of craft cocktails and pieces of modern alcoholic artwork. Have you ever stopped to wonder just where your favorite drink comes from? If you are a history buff who loves alcohol, this list is for you.

10 Old Fashioned

For whiskey connoisseurs, this is the ultimate cocktail. A great-tasting, well-balanced cocktail that is essentially a celebration of whiskey on your palate. However, you may not know that this cocktail is not only rich in flavor but also rich in history.

The invention of this alcoholic masterpiece is credited to a barkeep named James E. Pepper in 1880. An article written in 2005 in the Louisville Courier-Journal indicates that Pepper invented the drink in Louisville. Then he took the concoction to New York City, specifically the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel bar, where it blossomed in popularity. This is credited as the birthplace of the old fashioned.

However, some detractors of this story point to a book written in 1862 by Jerry Thomas as proof that the recipe existed prior to 1880. Although Thomas’s Bartenders Guide: How To Mix Drinks does mention a similar cocktail, it uses gin in lieu of whiskey, thus changing the complexion of the drink.[1]

While the origins of this craft cocktail can be debated, there is no question that it is one of the most popular bar drinks served to this day.

9 Daiquiri

Despite being widely considered “a chick drink,” the daiquiri surprisingly has a manly origin story. Cut to the 17th century when the British and the Spanish aggressively patrolled the seas, hunting pirates and trying desperately to expand their rule.

The sailors of the naval ships battled long journeys with bad weather and seasickness. To help cope with this, the sailors were allotted 3.8 liters (1 gal) of beer per day per man by law.

The problem was that many of these ships were patrolling the Caribbean (with Nassau being a known pirate hot spot) some 7,200 kilometers (4,500 mi) away. Stocking enough beer for a journey that long—let alone restocking it from so far away—posed a great logistical problem.

The solution came in the form of rum. It was decided that 473 milliliters (1 pt) of rum (which was widely available in the Caribbean) was a fair substitute. Unfortunately, the rum was much more potent and the soldiers’ productivity declined drastically because they were really drunk.

In 1740, Naval Admiral Edward “Old Grog” Vernon began diluting the liquor with water in lime juice to help his crew stay more sober. Those ingredients are the base of what became known as the daiquiri.[2]

Technically, Jennings Cox is credited with the invention of the daiquiri. He ran out of gin while hosting guests and used rum as a substitute, calling it the daiquiri after the name of a beach on the island of Cuba. However, that’s far less cool than drunken pirate hunters.

8 Manhattan

Would you believe that this cocktail was invented at a party for Winston Churchill’s mother? Even though this was a popular rumor about the origin of the Manhattan, this theory holds little weight. Lady Randolph Churchill was back in England and already pregnant with Winston at the time this drink rose to prominence.[3]

The Manhattan Club in New York still claims ownership of the original recipe (hence the name). But there are whispers of a man, simply called “Black,” who invented the drink while working at the Hoffman House in New York. While the exact details are up for debate, all experts agree that the Manhattan originated in New York.

7 Martini

The origins of this drink have more theories and plot twists than a James Bond movie. With multiple, unverifiable, competing origin stories, the rule of writing is that the coolest theory always wins out.

So here goes. A gold miner in Martinez, California, struck it rich in the early 1800s and naturally decided to hit the local bar to celebrate. He ordered champagne, but the bar didn’t have anything.

So he said, “Make me the fanciest concoction you can think of.” The bartender threw a few ingredients together in a glass, and the miner loved it. He asked the bartender to tell him what was in it. Then the miner traveled to San Francisco, asked for this drink at another bar, and taught the bartender there how to make it.

Originally known as the “Martinez Special,” the martini was born. Still around today, this alcoholic artistry has become a golden classic.[4]

6 Margarita

The margarita is one popular drink that has three competing theories about its invention.

Margarita Sames was a rich girl from Dallas, Texas. She claimed that she invented the drink while vacationing in Acapulco with her friends in 1948. One of her friends, Tommy Hilton (of the same family that owns the Hilton Hotel chain), was so impressed by the drink that he put it on the hotel bar drink menus.

However, as Jose Cuervo was already an established tequila brand that actively endorsed the margarita starting in 1945, it is highly unlikely that Margarita invented her namesake drink. There are some who swear by this story, though. (Because rich people with power and influence would never lie, of course.)

Another claim is held by Danny Negrete. He supposedly made this cocktail as a wedding gift for his sister-in-law, who also happened to be named Margarita.

Finally, we have Mexican bartender Don Carlos Orozco who reportedly made this drink for the daughter of a German ambassador. She was also named Margarita. It is worth pointing out that there was a similar drink that became highly popular during Prohibition called the Daisy. Coincidentally, margarita is Spanish for “daisy.”[5]

5 Moscow Mule

Just like the Manhattan is from Manhattan, the Moscow mule must be from Moscow, right?

Wrong.[6]

Although the exact origin of the drink is unknown, the owners of the Los Angeles pub Cock ‘n’ Bull brought the drink to popularity in the 1940s. However, in an article published in 2007 in The Wall Street Journal, Wes Price, the head bartender for the Cock ‘n’ Bull, claims that he invented the recipe. Whatever the case, the Moscow mule jump-started the popularity of vodka within the US.

4 Sex On The Beach

The origins of this drink are ironclad. Its terrible name—along with alligators and hurricanes—can be tracked to one place: Florida. A bar called Confetti’s is credited with the invention.[7]

Apparently, one of their bartenders made the fruity drink and thought, “What’s the most ridiculous, basic, noncreative name I can think of for this? Oh, hey look! There’s a couple having sex on the beach! I’ve got it! Sex on the Beach!”

Admittedly, we can’t be sure that’s exactly how it went down, but we are talking about Florida here. So it seems pretty accurate.

3 Cosmopolitan

The cosmo was actually a symbolic drink in the gay community in the 1970s when it was first introduced. The drink is credited to bartender Cheryl Cook, who worked in South Beach. As the story goes, a customer asked her to craft a drink that made him look sophisticated but was sweeter and less harsh than the traditional martini.[8]

The cocktail crafted by Cook became known as the cosmopolitan. At the same time, John Caine, a bartender in Provincetown, had created a similar drink. Caine took the drink with him to San Francisco where it exploded in popularity in the gay social scene.

2 Whiskey Sour

Jerry Thomas’s Bartenders Guide: How To Mix Drinks contained a recipe for this legendary whiskey drink back in 1862. Unlike other cocktails that took a long time to rise to popularity, the whiskey sour has been popular from its birth all the way until . . . well . . . now.[9]

Wisconsin newspaper Waukesha Plaindealer once published an article which referred to the whiskey sour as “a cardinal point in American drinking.” Sometimes, when you make a perfect drink, it stays perfect for over 100 years.

1 Mint Julep

Originally, the mint julep was rumored to be consumed for its medicinal properties. Farmers would drink them in the morning, much like people now drink coffee, for the extra boost to get them going. The mint julep also became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby in 1938.

The word “julep” is of Persian heritage. It is derived from the word gulab, which is a Persian sweetened rose water much like the syrup used to make the minty fresh beverage we know today. In Arabic, gulab is known as julab, which became julapium when translated into Latin.[10]

Since julapium syrup was used to make the drink, it worked its way into the name to form what we know today as the “mint julep.” The fact that the liquor of choice for these drinks is bourbon explains the Southern popularity and the prominence that the mint julep has in connection with the world-famous Kentucky Derby.

Eric is a 29-year=old restaurant consultant residing in Maine.


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Science

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The sinking of the Titanic was one of the most traumatic and horrifying events in history. Thousands of people lost their lives in the freezing cold water of the Atlantic Ocean during the early morning hours of April 15, 1912.

There are many sad stories about the Titanic, but there are also many heroic stories of survival. If it’s remarkable for an adult to have lived through this terrifying event, it is even more amazing that children lived through the sinking of the Titanic. We can only imagine how scared these kids were and how this event changed their entire lives. In this list, we will discuss ten children who survived the sinking of the Titanic.

10 William Carter II

William Carter, or Billy, was 11 years old when he first stepped onto the Titanic. Billy was a first-class passenger, and the Carters were among the richest families on the Titanic. Not only were they first-class passengers, but all of their children, including Billy, attended boarding schools, and they had a servant with them on the boat. Even though the Carters were quite wealthy, they still went through the same tragedy as everyone else.

The night the Titanic struck the iceberg, the Carter family went in line to get on a lifeboat. Billy’s mom and sisters easily made it onto the boat, but Billy was told he was too old. Reportedly, Mrs. Carter thought fast and disguised Billy as a girl so he could get on. With some luck and quick thinking, this 11-year-old boy was able to survive one of the world’s greatest tragedies.[1]

9 Robert Douglas Spedden

Robert Spedden was six years old when the Titanic crashed into the iceberg. He was on the ship with his mother and father. Spedden is a famous young boy from the Titanic because after the event, his mother wrote a book called Polar the Titanic Bear. This book was dedicated to Spedden, and it was about his teddy bear and his trip on the Titanic. Since Spedden was so young, when the sinking occurred, his mother and nanny tried everything in their power to keep him calm. They told him they were just going on a “trip to see the stars” before they boarded the lifeboat.

Thanks to the calmness of his mother and his nanny, Spedden was unconcerned on his trip off of the Titanic. Spedden and his mom also got very lucky when leaving the ship. They were on one of the last lifeboats off the ship and were the last woman and child in sight, so the rest of their lifeboat was filled with men. Spedden actually fell asleep on the boat during the ride away from the sinking ship.[2] This story shows how different people felt as the Titanic sank; most of us wouldn’t think that someone would have been this content during such a tragedy.

8 Jean Hippach

Jean Hippach was a 16-year-old girl who was traveling on the Titanic with her mother. On the night of the collision, Hippach slept through the initial crash. She was not awoken until she heard the steam roaring from the ship. Hippach remembered nobody being initially alarmed by the crash, and a ship worker told her not to worry and to go back to her room. Eventually, Hippach and her mother made it to the top deck to board a lifeboat. They did not get on one of the first ones, though, because they believed they would be safer on the Titanic than in one of the boats. One of the ship workers made them get into a lifeboat.

Soon after, they were floating away, and Hippach looked back to see the horror of the Titanic. There was an “fearful explosion,” and the ship started cracking. She then saw all of the lights on the Titanic go out as the men and women on her boat rowed frantically to escape the suction of the sinking cruise liner.[3] If Hippach and her mother hadn’t been on that lifeboat, they might have been still been on the Titanic and probably would have died.

7 Madeleine Violet Mellinger

Madeleine Violet Mellinger was 13 years old and was a second-class passenger when the Titanic left port. Mellinger was traveling with her mother. During the night the Titanic hit the iceberg, Mellinger was jarred awake by the sound of the crash. After that, she went back to bed for a little while until a man pounded on their door and told them to get topside. They both headed up to the deck to get on a lifeboat.

Once they got onto a boat, Mellinger remembered feeling sorry for those still waiting for a lifeboat and wishing that they could all pile into hers. She remembered the rockets shooting off from the ship, looking for someone to come and help them. She also remembered the screaming of the people in the ice-cold water.[4]

6 The Navratil Children

This next story is one of how the kindness of strangers and a little luck can completely change a child’s life. The night that the Titanic sank, Mr. Navratil and his two young sons were aboard the doomed ship. Mr. Navratil had lost custody of the boys to his estranged wife, so he had decided to run off to the United States with them. Before putting his sons onto a lifeboat, Mr. Navratil wrapped them up in a blanket to keep them warm and said his goodbyes. The boys lived, but Mr. Navratil did not. Once the boys were rescued, the crew and other passengers realized that they only spoke French and could not communicate with them in English.[5]

A woman passenger volunteered to take the boys with her back to New York to keep them safe until they could figure out what to do with them. Luckily, the boys’ mother saw a picture of them in a newspaper in France and was able to go to New York to retrieve them. They all headed back to France, where they lived together. It is amazing to think how kind a stranger could be and how lucky the boys were that their mother found a picture of them in a newspaper to come and take them home.

5 Millvina Dean

When the Titanic was making its voyage to New York, Millvina Dean was only two months old. This made her the youngest passenger on the ship. She and her family were third-class passengers and were on the Titanic because they were moving to the US. During the night of the crash, Millvina, her mother, and her brother all boarded a lifeboat and made it safely to New York.

Even though Millvina does not remember the sinking of the Titanic, she is on this list for a very important reason. She became the last person to die after surviving the Titanic in 2009, having lived to the age of 97. She was able to share her story for all of those years and help all of us remember the Titanic and the tragedy that struck in the Atlantic Ocean that night.[6]

4 Mary Conover Lines

Mary Conover Lines was 16 years old when she was aboard the Titanic. She was traveling with her mother, and they were going to the United States to attend her brother’s graduation from college. The two were in the reception room of the ship when it hit the iceberg. Lines and her mother made their way up to board a lifeboat. There they saw ice all over the deck of the ship but eventually made it onto a boat.

Line’s story is very chilling because she recalled a lot of events from that night that would haunt her forever. She later discussed how the crewmen were very calm as they helped everyone into the lifeboats, even though they knew they were going to lose their lives that night. She also remembered the horrific sight of the ship sinking and was grateful that she was too far away to hear the screams.[7]

3 Jack Thayer

John “Jack” Thayer’s story is one of the most thrilling from the sinking of the Titanic and one of extreme luck. Thayer, 17 at the time, was traveling with his parents and made some friends on board the ship. The night the Titanic hit the iceberg, Thayer and one of his friends were separated from his family and made their way to get onto a lifeboat. Unfortunately, they were not allowed on a boat and watched as the last one left the ship. Thayer and his friend decided that they were going to have to jump into the ocean before the ship sank to have the best shot at surviving.

Thayer didn’t see his friend again after he jumped. Thayer hit the water’s surface and, even with a life preserver, was pulled down by the suction, nearly drowning. When he finally came up to the surface, pure luck took over. He’d surfaced right next to an upside down collapsible lifeboat from the ship.[8] He and 28 others all pilled in or held onto the side of the boat until they reached safety. It is unbelievable how lucky some people can be, and Thayer’s luck came right at the perfect moment.

2 Eva Hart

Eva Hart was just seven years old when the Titanic collided with the iceberg. She was traveling with her mother and father on the great ocean liner. Hart and her family were second-class passengers on the ship. Hart and her mother were able to get on a lifeboat and survived, but her father was lost to the deadly cold ocean. Her story has a happy ending, though.

After the accident, Hart prided herself on living her life to the fullest. She spoke to many people about the sinking of the Titanic to keep its memory alive. She also traveled throughout her life, and that was a big step for her. She showed that she was not afraid to take a sea voyage, or any other form of long-distance transportation, even though such a horrible tragedy happened in her life. She wanted others to know that even when tragedy strikes, they should still live their lives afterward because it is what made her life worth living.[9] Hart has a great message for us all about not giving up on life, even when it seems so horrible and bleak.

1 August Abraham Johannes Abrahamsson

August Abrahamsson was 19 when he was on the Titanic. He was a third-class passenger on the ship, and he was traveling with his parents and two siblings. During the night of the crash, Abrahamsson left his room late because he didn’t believe there was a problem with the ship. Since he waited so long to leave his room, he could not get a life belt. As he made his way up to the deck, he headed toward the front of the vessel to see if any lifeboats were left.

Since he was 19 years old, it was going to be hard for him to get into a boat. Luckily, he was able to board the last lifeboat to leave the ship. If he would have had to go into the water without a lifebelt, he probably would have died quickly. As they pulled away from the ship, Abrahamsson heard muffled explosions and saw the ship sink.[10]

All of these stories of the Titanic truly show how lucky people can get. We can only imagine how scary this tragedy must have been for these children, but they got a second chance at life, and hopefully, they lived the rest of their lives to the fullest.

I am a teacher that likes writing in their free time.


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Bizarre

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There’s nothing more horrifying than the thought of something growing on your body. But it’s something that happens a lot more often than we’d like to think.

Some cases, though, are exceptional. While warts, tumors, and worse will grow on millions of people’s bodies every year, a rare few have seen things that go way beyond your standard medical crisis. They’ve had growths take over their bodies—and sometimes even their brains.

10 The Tumor That Turned A Teacher Into A Pedophile

The entire personality of an unidentified schoolteacher in Virginia changed when a tumor started growing in his brain.

It began as nothing more than a few headaches characterized by a recurring dull pain. But before long, the growth in his head turned him into a sexual predator.

Sex started contaminating his brain every second of the day. He built up a massive stash of pornographic magazines, and it only got worse from there. He soon started spending long nights looking at child porn on the Internet or openly describing fantasies about raping the women in his life.

The doctors didn’t find the tumor growing in his brain until he’d already hurt the people he loved. He had been arrested for sexually molesting his own stepdaughter.

When the doctors removed the tumor, they just thought they were treating him for brain cancer. Once it was out of his body, though, all his deviant behavior stopped. While he’d openly and uncontrollably sexually harassed every nurse he’d seen before the surgery, he went completely back to normal after the tumor was gone.[1]

A year later, the teacher found himself searching the Internet for child pornography once more. Sure enough, the tumor had started to grow back. When the doctors operated again, his urges went away.

9 The Brain Tumor That Told A Woman Where To Find It

In 1984, a woman known only as A.B. was sitting alone at home when she heard a voice in her head that said:

Please don’t be afraid. I know it must be shocking for you to hear me speaking to you like this, but this is the easiest way I could think of. My friend and I used to work at the Children’s Hospital, Great Ormond Street, and we would like to help you.

A.B. was sure she was losing her mind. She visited her doctor, who diagnosed her with functional hallucinatory psychosis and put her antipsychotic medication. But the voice kept talking in her head.

Now, though, it was getting eerily specific. It told her that she had a tumor growing in her brain stem and that the doctors wouldn’t find it unless they scanned her brain. Then the voice directed her to the diagnostic imaging wing of the nearby hospital.[2]

The doctors were reluctant to do it. From early tests, they’d found nothing wrong. But when the woman started pleading, they gave her a brain scan. Just as the voices (more than one now) had promised, they found a meningioma in her brain stem, right where it was supposed to be.

It sounds like a ghost story, but it really happened. The doctor who treated her believes that the tumor created a sensation in her brain that she could just slightly feel and that her subconscious mind created the delusion to communicate it.

When the surgery was over, A.B. says that she heard the voices one last time.

“We are pleased to have helped you,” she heard them say. “Goodbye.”

8 The Man With Hair Growing Out Of His Eyeball

A 19-year-old man in Iran begged his doctor to get rid of the mass that had been growing on his (the patient’s) eyeball. It had been there since birth. But in the last year, it had become bigger and bigger—and, creepiest of all, it was growing hair.

A small line of a few scattered eyelashes were growing right out of the man’s eyeball, and a whole host of problems came with it. He couldn’t see past the growth or the hair, and every time he blinked, he felt the tiny hairs tickling his inner eyelid.[3]

Worse than all of that, there was just an unnerving feeling that would never escape him—that sense that something was growing out of his eye.

It’s was an eerie and unusual case, but this man was by no means the only person to have it happen. His was only an unusually bad case of what’s called a “limbal dermoid” (tumors that carry tissues from another part of the body). Like him, other people have had hair grow out of their eyeballs from the same condition. Still more have had limbal dermoids grow hard cartilage and sweat glands.

7 The Tumor That Grew Teeth

Archaeologists digging at a Roman necropolis in Portugal learned the horrible story of how one unfortunate woman met her end 1,600 years ago.

Inside her pelvis, an ovarian tumor had been developing. By the time she died, it had grown four jagged, deformed teeth. While they can’t say for sure how she died, it’s believed that she would have been able to feel the teeth pressing up against her insides toward the end. The tumor may have even killed her by pushing her internal organs out of place.

It’s a horrifying way to go, but she’s not the only person to have a tumor with teeth grow inside her body. This type of tumor, called a “teratoma,” accounts for 20 percent of all ovarian tumors. The woman in Portugal is the oldest one we’ve ever found. But even if she was the first to have it happen, she was by no means the last.

The biggest teratoma on record was removed from the pelvis on a 74-year-old woman just a few years ago. The monstrous tumor had grown 46 centimeters (18 in) long and was littered with hard, misshapen teeth.[4]

6 The Tumor That Caused DMT-Like Hallucinations

While studying in art school, Shawn Thornton started having strange hallucinations. His whole body would be overwhelmed with energy, and he’d work himself into a frenzy. When it was over, he would collapse onto his bed and start seeing strange and beautiful colors and shapes whirling in front of his eyes.

He’d experimented with casual drug use before, but this was something different. Thornton was totally sober when he had his hallucinations, and they were far more powerful than anything he’d previously experienced.

Though he’d never tried DMT, Thornton’s hallucinations were believed to be similar to what a person experiences on the drug. To Thornton, they felt deep and visionary, like he was opening his third eye and having a spiritual episode that let him see beyond the world.

In time, the doctors found that he had cancer of the pineal gland and that his hallucinations were being caused by a tumor growing at the center of his brain. But by then, he’d already painted a road map into his mind. Thornton had made painting after painting showing the technicolor dreamscape dancing inside his mind.[5]

5 The Tumor That Kept Growing After Its Host Died

In 1951, a tobacco farmer in Virginia named Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer. There was a tumor growing inside her body, but this was no ordinary growth. Lacks’s tumor was immortal.

Her doctors discovered that her tumor had immortal cells that would never die. It grew at an alarming, too. Her cancerous cells would double every 24 hours.

The doctors didn’t tell her. Instead, they ran secret experiments on her and the growth inside her body, using her as a human guinea pig while it ate her alive. Henrietta Lacks died before the year was over.

Her tumor, though, lived on, even after she had died—and it’s still growing today. It’s been the subject of countless experiments ever since, and the extracted “HeLa cells” have been responsible for some of the most incredible breakthroughs in medicine of the past 100 years.

Obviously, Henrietta never found out that her death had done the world some good. All she knew was that something was growing inside her at an alarming rate and that the doctors were telling her nothing as they swarmed around her, experimenting on her body.[6]

4 The Bloody Horn That Grew On A Woman’s Head

An 87-year-old woman named Liang Xiuzhen complained about an itchy mole on the top of her head, but she had no idea how much worse things were going to get.

Thinking it was just a mole, her family started giving her medicines to stop the itch. But the mole kept growing until it was the size of a woman’s pinky finger. Unlike an ordinary mole, it was hard and sharp and hurt to touch.

When the initial growth snapped, a bigger one sprouted in its place, growing faster than ever. Within just six months, a massive, black, 13-centimeter-long (5 in) horn was growing from the top of her head.[7]

It was a cutaneous horn—a skin tumor made of the same material as fingernails. Hers was incredibly sensitive. She couldn’t sleep because pressing the horn against her pillow felt like sharp fingernails jabbing into her skull. Creepiest of all, the horn occasionally dribbled out blood.

Her doctors wanted to remove it, but her family was worried that she wouldn’t survive the operation. The last anyone’s heard, Liang Xiuzhen was still suffering through it.

3 The Man With A 5-Kilogram (12 Lb) Growth On His Face

Jose Mestre has been called the man without a face.

At the young age of 14, his face started getting covered in an explosive growth of blood vessels that left purple bulges of skin. His doctors wanted to get rid of it early on when it was little more than a bulging lip. But Mestre, a Jehovah’s Witness, refused to get a blood transfusion, and so the growth was left unchecked.

It got worse and worse. His face became completely consumed by the purple growths. One covered up his right eye, while another burst through his left eyeball and completely destroyed it. The growth crawled into his mouth and started choking him, making it a struggle for him to even breathe and nearly impossible to eat.

At its worst, the growth weighed 5 kilograms (12 lb). As his surgeon described it, Mestre’s face was left as little more than “a mass of fiber and tumor and blood vessels that made him unrecognizable as a human being.”[8]

He was finally saved when his sister managed to convince him to get the surgery. She told him, “You’re going to die anyway, so die trying.”

Mestre was flown out to Chicago where a surgeon had volunteered to treat him. After four operations, the growth was removed and his life was saved.

2 The Tumor That Turned A Man Into A Killer

While a student at the University of Texas, Charles Whitman started having terrible headaches and an unusually hard time controlling his temper. Until then, he’d been a fairly stable boy. But suddenly, he became so temperamental that he once pulled another student out of his chair in the middle of class and physically threw him out of the classroom.

On July 31, 1966, for reasons even Whitman couldn’t understand, he became overwhelmed with a desire to kill. He sat down and wrote a letter, outlining what he was going to do and how strangely out of control he felt about the decision.

“It was after much thought that I decided to kill my wife, Kathy, tonight,” he wrote. “I love her dearly, and she has been as fine a wife to me as any man could ever hope to have. I cannot rationally pinpoint any specific reason for doing this.”[9]

When he was finished writing, he went across the street and strangled and stabbed his own mother. Then he went home and stabbed his wife to death. Finally, he climbed up the university tower and opened fire on anything that moved, killing 14 people.

In his final letter, Whitman left a note asking the doctors to do an autopsy on his brain. “I don’t really understand myself these days,” he wrote. “Lately (I can’t recall when it started), I have been a victim of many unusual and irrational thoughts.”

The doctors complied. When they opened up his skull, they found a large tumor pressing against his amygdala. Some believe it was the source of the anger, headaches, and killer thoughts that had plagued his mind.

1 The Woman Who Grew A Tumor With A Brain

In 2003, an ovarian tumor was found growing inside a 25-year-old Japanese woman. It was a teratoma—one of the tumors that grow teeth—but this one was unlike any other before.

The tumor in her body had taken the shape of a small child. It had limbs, ears, teeth, bones, blood vessels, and guts, all in the form of some black and misshapen human being. On its head, it had grown one, single, staring eye.

It even had a brain.

The brain was too underdeveloped to function. It was little more than a tiny lobe covered in a paper-thin skull, coated with a greasy matting of little hairs. Still, the tumor inside her had nearly every part it needed to become a living, thinking thing.

Hers was by far the most humanlike growth ever found on a human body. But she is not the only person to have a tumor with a brain. When a tiny brain grows in a tumor in your body, doctors say that it can affect the way you think.[10]

Women like her tend to start having bouts of confusion and paranoid thoughts. Their immune systems, confused by the new presence, will start acting like their brains by mistake. Under the influence of a little foreign mind growing inside their bodies, their entire personalities can change.


Mark Oliver

Mark Oliver is a regular contributor to Listverse. His writing also appears on a number of other sites, including The Onion’s StarWipe and Cracked.com. His website is regularly updated with everything he writes.

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