Kangaroos can’t jump backwards!

By: Richard Harris, English Content Editor
strange facts


Facts and figures are Qatar National Library’s stock-in-trade; with more than a million books, plus access to hundreds of online repositories, publications and digital archives; if a fact exists, we know about it.

Some are sobering – one in three people on Earth currently do not have access to clean water, some you should know but don’t – the dot on top of the letter 'i' and 'j' is known as a tittle, and others are plain baffling – according to quantum physics, objects can be in two places at once.

There are also those facts that everyone is expected to know: the highest mountain in the world is Mount Everest in Nepal, the world’s longest river is the Nile in Egypt, the biggest animal to have ever lived is the 29-meter-long blue whale.

Then we have those nuggets of information that are just plain weird and random, and these are the ones that get our brain cells excited.

For example, did you know that the praying mantis is the only insect that can turn its head from side to side, or that it’s impossible to lick your own elbow? Maybe you already know that it would take about 20 minutes for a human being to fall to the center of the Earth, or that kangaroos can’t jump backwards.

But what about that Tyrannosaurus rex lived closer in time to us (67 million years ago) than it did to Stegosaurus (144 million years ago), or that astronauts use liquid salt and pepper in space? 

Then there are the ‘facts’ that are just plain wrong, but which books can help you set right.

For example, despite what the internet says, hippopotamus milk is NOT pink, although there is some truth in the rumor! Hippopotamuses secrete a substance called hipposudoric acid – a natural suntan lotion – that turns red when exposed to sunlight, from which the story about pink milk may have originated.

And this is one of the most important aspects of books; they have an author who cares about their reputation and who tries to ensure that what they write about is correct, hence the facts are often attributable; random websites on the internet do not have that.  

So finally, here’s a few facts about Qatar that are definitely correct: it is the only country that begins with a ‘Q’, it is the smallest country to ever host the World Cup, Qatar is one of the flattest countries in the world, and finally the country is one of only 19 on Earth to have no natural, permanent lakes.

And don’t forget, kangaroos can’t jump backwards!

For more fascinating facts, check out these books:

Ripley's Believe It or Not! Unlock the Weird

Guinness World Records 2019

Ripley's Believe It or Not!: Strikingly True

Random Illustrated Facts: A Collection of Curious, Weird, and Totally Not Boring Things to Know

Totally wacky facts about the human body

Record-breaking Earth & space facts

Dinosaur facts and figures: the theropods and other dinosauriformes

Totally Wacky Facts About the Human Mind

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