These spooky facts are guaranteed to send a shiver up your spine, or at least give you a good old case of the heeby jeebies! Use them to scare your friends and frighten your family! Which of these spooky facts is your favourite?
There is an ancient book full of strange symbols no one can translate
It’s called the Voynich Manuscript and it’s full of strange symbols, drawings and letters. The drawings depict women, men and what looks like plants, but it’s not clear what they’re doing. The writing looks like a words, but it’s not in any recognisable language. Some people think it’s a text book for midwifes, or a recipe book. Others think it’s a spell book, and some think it’s a hoax! For years people have tried to figure out what it says, but no one has!
2. In 1872 a ship was discovered floating in the ocean with no signs of its crew, passengers or any other signs of life
It was called the Mary Celeste and when people stepped aboard they found no one there, and no sign of a struggle either. The ship was in good condition with no signs of damage except a bit of water at the bottom. What happened to the passengers on board? Where did they go? Over the years people have put forward lots of theories including: pirates, sea monsters and even alien abduction! But it’s never been solved. What do you think?
3. The Tower of London is haunted by lots and lots of ghosts
The tower of London is nearly a thousand years old, and it’s had plenty of time to build up a big roster of spooks! Spectral guests include the ghost of Anne Boleyn, wife of Henry VIII, Lady Jane Grey, the nine days queen, and even a ghostly bear! There’s been lots of grisly happenings in the tower, including murder, torture, beheadings and more, so it’s no wonder these ghosts feel like hanging around! It also used to have a zoo, which explains the bear! Have you ever seen one of these spectres?
4. A dead Pope was once put on trial
Yup, you read that right! In 897AD, Pope Formosus was put on trial for perjury and other crimes. The weird thing? He’d been dead for a year! He was dug up and taken to court for questioning, though we can’t imagine he had a lot of answers…and sure enough, he didn’t say anything when questioned. The Pope who ordered the whole thing may possible not have been all that stable…we cant imagine why anyone would think that!
5. A dead councillor still attends University College London’s meetings
Jeremy Bentham, an 18th century philosopher, scholar and one of the founders of UCL, died in 1832. But that didn’t stop him continuing to attend council meetings – his skeleton can now be found in the halls of UCL, dressed up in his clothes and stuffed with straw, and has been in attendance at UCL council meetings on at least one recorded occasion, in 2013. In the meeting notes he is recorded as ‘Present, but not voting’. Bet you feel bad when you call in sick to school now!
6. The Golden Poison Dart Frog is so poisonous it can kill you with one touch
They may look cute, but their skin is deadly! In fact, it’s one of the most poisonous animals on earth. Because the frogs are so small and delicate they’re vulnerable to predators, so that’s why their skin is so poisonous. While only the size of a paperclip, this little froggy contains enough poison to kill up to 20 people! Scientists aren’t sure how the poison is made, but some think it may be absorbed from plants eaten by the frog. Don’t worry, they like to hang around South America so you won’t find one living nearby any time soon!
7. Horned Lizards squirt blood from their eyes
Yuck! This weird act is a way to freak out predators. The horned lizard lives in hot, desert areas, and is preyed on by large mammals like Coyotes. Luckily, they have a defence mechanism which is very effective! Although they are very good at camouflage, if that fails and they are attacked, the horned lizard will squirt a stream of foul tasting blood from their eye at their enemy, scaring them away. The blood comes from a sac under its eye, and can be squirted up to 2 metres away! They can also puff up to escape the jaws of predators. Luckily they don’t really squirt blood at humans, so you’ll probably be fine if you ever meet one.
8. The Mummies of Guanajuato may have been buried alive
The mummies of Guanajuato, Mexico are famous for their horrible, dramatic facial expressions (Think your mums face when the dog poos on the carpet). These mummies date back to a 19th century Cholera epidemic, and there are over 100, though only about half of those are on display. Due to some of these horrible facial expressions, it’s thought that some of them may have been buried alive! This isn’t entirely implausible; cholera wasn’t widely understood at the time, and people may have been buried alive by accident, thinking they were dead. Scary!
9. Loch Ness isn’t the only lake in the UK with a monster
The nearby Loch Morar is home to ‘Morag’, another lake monster who’s been sighted many times over the years. Some people think there may even be underground tunnels between the two lochs, and that Nessie and Morag are one and the same! There are loads of other lakes which may contain monsters in the UK, including Muc-sheilche, of Loch Maree, also in Scotland, and The Eachy of Bassenthwaite Lake in the Lake District, which is said to be a giant humanoid with a snake head! Yikes! Better not go for a dip round there.
10. There was a vampire scare in America in the 19th century
The New England Vampire Panic occurred in New England, USA in the 19th century. States in New England, including Connecticut, Rhode Island and Vermont. These so called ‘vampires’ were actually suffering from tuberculosis, which sadly isn’t cured with garlic! Like the mummies of Guanajuato, tuberculosis wasn’t very well understood and often made the victim look like the walking dead. Bodies have been exhumed since then which bear the marks of being buried as vampires, including having their heads removed! The scariest thing of all is that this happened less than 200 hundred years ago!
11. Violet Jessop survived three boat disasters
Violet was a stewardess, which meant she worked on boats crossing the ocean. Violet was working on the HMS Titanic in 1912 when it sank, and was only put in one of the lifeboats after she’d helped passengers first. She was also on the RMS Olympic, the Titanic’s sister boat, in 1911, when it collided with another boat, though it didn’t sink . During WW1 she was a nurse on board the HMHS Britannic in 1916 which was also sunk! Violet had to jump into a lifeboat from the sinking ship, and hit her head while doing so. Violet lived through all three events and later wrote a book about it. Was Violet seriously lucky, or seriously unlucky?
12. The Venus Flytrap is deadly!
Well, deadly if you’re an insect that is. The Venus Flytrap can be found throughout the Southern US states, and feeds mostly on flies and other insects, and its famous for being one of the few carnivorous species of plant. The Venus Flytrap works by luring flies in with a sticky nectar, then clamping closed on them and digesting them whole! They have special hairs which sense when an insect has landed and sets off the plant to snap shut. Some of the bigger Venus Flytraps can even eat tiny frogs! Eurgh!
13. Dracula is based on a real person
The famous vampire is actually based on a historical figure, Vlad Tepes, or Vlad Dracula, who was a Romanian ruler in the 15th century who liked to, er, stick his enemies on spikes. Unsurprisingly, his nickname was Vlad the Impaler. He was apparently not a very nice man. The ‘Dracula’ in his original name means ‘ son of the dragon’ (Dracul being his dad’s nickname), and refers to his fearsome reputation. He doesn’t look much like our modern idea of a vampire though – he has a moustache and a big fancy hat. There are no reports of him drinking any blood though!
14. Honey Badgers are kind of terrifying
The name Honey Badger sounds lovely, until you hear about how vicious they are! Honey badgers are a type of mustelid (A family of mammals including badgers, weasels and otters) found in Africa and Asia. They are known to be very clever at getting round fences and traps, and their prey includes reptiles, rodents and scorpions! They can be so aggressive that they’ve been known to get into fights with snakes, lions and hyenas! As the name suggests, their favourite food is honey, but don’t try and cuddle them like they’re Winne the Pooh!
15. Your phone has more germs than a public loo!
TEN TIMES as many in some cases! Gross! We use our phones all day, so we touch them constantly, and anything on your hands can get onto your phone. That’s why it’s very very important to wash your hands after going to the toilet or doing anything else unhygienic! You should be cleaning your phone with anti-bacterial wipes regularly, and that goes for all your other tech too! If it makes you feel better, most things have at least SOME germs on them. Or does that make you feel worse? Anyway, give it a wipe, please.
16. There are tunnels full of skeletons underneath Paris
In 18th century Paris, the graveyards were getting full, which was leading to overcrowding and the spread of disease. The solution? Dig up all the old bones and store them in underground tunnels beneath the city. They’re called the catacombs and they house the bones of millions of people! The tunnels themselves date back much longer, to when they were used as underground quarries in medieval times. Many of the remains have been arranged in elaborate patterns and designs, and the tunnels stretch for over a kilometre! You can even visit them, if you really want to! On average, the catacombs get about half a million visitors every year!
17. Hampton Court Palace is one of the most haunted places in the UK
Hampton court is another very spooky old Royal palace. Built in them 14th century and made larger over the years, the palace has been home to many royals, including Henry VIII, Queen Anne and King George II. Naturally, it’s stuffed with ghosts and spooky goings-on. Famously haunted areas include the kitchens, the chapels and even an area known as ‘The Haunted Gallery’. Ghosts include a grey lady, Queen Jane Seymour, and a mysterious man in robes who was caught on CCTV in 2003! The video shows a door blowing open and then a figure in what appears to be a robe appearing and closing it. The staff said no one dressed like this was on site that day. What do you think it was? Authentic spook or historical hoax?
18. People used to put cat mummies in their walls
Yup, you read that right! In parts of Europe including the UK, it was custom to place the body of a dead cat into the walls of a new house for luck. Mummified cat remains have been found in several old buildings, including pubs. Cats have been seen as lucky or superstitious by lots of different cultures for thousands of years, including the ancient Egyptians, who considered them very special. Other items found inside old walls include shoes and magical carvings. We don’t really know what’s so lucky about a dead cat…you save money on cat food, we suppose!
19. The Witchcraft act of 1735 was last used in 1944
Helen Duncan was a women who was accused of spying during WW2 because she somehow knew supposed secrets about the war. She was prosecuted under an act from the 18th century which made it illegal to pretend to use witchcraft to find out information. Helen actually claimed to be a medium, or spiritualist, and not a witch. Spiritualists are people who claim to be able to communicate with the dead, and this was particular popular during WW2 when so many lives where lost. The government probably knew Helen wasn’t really a witch (In fact, Winston Churchill apparently thought the whole thing was ridiculous) but they were scared about secrets leaking and spies. Helen was jailed for 9 months, though the Witchcraft Act was repealed afterwards.
20. Cockroaches can live without their heads for weeks
Yes, these resilient bugs have been known to survive weeks without their heads! Cockroaches are notoriously hardy bugs. The cockroach has a very different nervous system to us – they don’t need their brains to do most of the work, so if they lose their heads, their nervous systems will keep working and keep the cockroach moving. They also won’t die from blood loss as the blood clots at the neck. Sadly the cockroach will die eventually when it needs food and water. Clever…but gross