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  • 10 Failed Doomsday Predictions | Britannica.com
    National Space Science Data Center Halley s comet passes by the Earth approximately every 76 years but the nearness of its approach in 1910 created fear that it would destroy the planet either by a celestial collision or through the poisonous gasses it was rumoured to contain A worldwide panic ensued stoked by the media and such newspaper headlines as Comet May Kill All Earth Life Says Scientist A group in Oklahoma tried to sacrifice a virgin to ward off impending doom and bottled air became a hot commodity The Earth probably did pass through part of the comet s tail but with no apparent effect 6 Millerism The Granger Collection New York Religious leader William Miller began preaching in 1831 that the end of the world as we know it would occur with the second coming of Jesus Christ in 1843 He attracted as many as 100 000 followers who believed that they would be carried off to heaven when the date arrived When the 1843 prediction failed to materialize Miller recalculated and determined that the world would actually end in 1844 Follower Henry Emmons wrote I waited all Tuesday and dear Jesus did not come I lay prostrate for 2 days without any pain sick with disappointment 5 Joanna Southcott Hemera Thinkstock Beginning when she was 42 years old Joanna Southcott reported hearing voices that predicted future events including the crop failures and famines of 1799 and 1800 She began publishing her own books and eventually developed a following of as many as 100 000 believers In 1813 she announced that in the following year she would give birth to the second messiah whose arrival would signal the last days of the Earth despite being 64 years old and as she told her doctors a virgin She died before a baby could be born 4 The Prophet Hen of Leeds Larry Lefever Grant Heilman Photography Inc In 1806 a domesticated hen in Leeds England appeared to lay eggs inscribed with the message Christ is coming Great numbers of people reportedly visited the hen and began to despair of the coming Judgment Day It was soon discovered however that the eggs were not in fact prophetic messages but the work of their owner who had been writing on the eggs in corrosive ink and reinserting them into the poor hen s body 3 Great Fire of London Museum of London Heritage Images Because the Bible calls 666 the number of the Beast many Christians in 17th century Europe feared the end of the world in the year 1666 The Great London Fire which lasted from September 2 to September 5 of that year destroyed much of the city including 87 parish churches and about 13 000 houses Many saw it as a fulfillment of the end of the world prophecy Given such a large amount of property damage though the death toll of the fire was remarkably low reportedly only 10 people not quite the end of the world

    Original URL path: http://www.britannica.com/list/10-failed-doomsday-predictions (2016-02-13)
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  • Encyclopedia Britannica Lists | Britannica.com
    World s Deadliest Mammals 10 of the World s Most Dangerous Fish 9 Mind Altering Plants 7 Animals That Turn White in Winter Browse Lists by Category History Music Animals Geography Literature Language Arts Culture Health Medicine Science Sports Recreation Food Pop Culture Society Philosophy Religion Technology Editor Picks Editor Picks Britannica editors share their opinions insightful commentary and fun facts on a variety of topics of personal interest John

    Original URL path: http://www.britannica.com/list/browse?c=7 (2016-02-13)
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  • 7 of the Weirdest Racehorse Names in History | Britannica.com
    Timbuktu but that doesn t have quite the same ring to it 5 Ghostzapper This name is both kooky and somewhat endearing You might not be able to imagine saying it and keeping a straight face but with over 3 million in career earnings that s Mister Ghostzapper to you 4 Hoof Hearted At first glance Hoof Hearted seems like a charming and appropriate name for an equine friend But if you say it 5 times fast you ll realize it s a clever double entendre that made it past Jockey Club censors 3 ARRRRR ARRRRR a horse from a stable of the same name is another that makes for entertainment at the track ARRRRR surprised race fans with an exciting first place finish from behind that heard the announcer yelling ARRRRR ARRRRRR ARRRRRRRR 2 Odor in the Court Often horses will be named in a fashion after their parents Thus the horse Golden Soul is by Perfect Soul out of Hollywood Gold Odor in the Court a much less fortunate creature was sired by Judge Smells 1 Clyde Van Dusen Kentucky Derby winner in 1929 Clyde Van Dusen was named after his trainer former jockey Clyde Van Dusen It could only be weirder if Clyde Van Dusen had ridden Clyde Van Dusen during the race Or maybe it would have been weirder for Clyde Van Dusen to ride Clyde Van Dusen In either case it was a true victory for Clyde Van Dusen Your Reaction Funky Feathers 10 Bizarre Birds 7 More Domestic Animals and Their Wild Ancestors MORE Animals LISTS Fightin Fauna 6 Animals of War 9 of the World s Deadliest Snakes 6 Domestic Animals and Their Wild Ancestors View All Comments Britannica Stories Behind The News Philosophy Religion Healing the Schism Pope Meets Patriarch Behind The

    Original URL path: http://www.britannica.com/list/7-of-the-weirdest-racehorse-names-in-history (2016-02-13)
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  • 8 Nonhuman Casualties of Hurricanes | Britannica.com
    even at the best of times may be swept from the quiet coastal waters that they prefer out into the open ocean where they may become disoriented and die The dilution of salt water by rainwater in coastal and bay areas is thought to have a detrimental effect on the health of cetaceans leading them to move offshore They may be following their piscine prey that also like it salty Catastrophic storms like Katrina may in fact have a silver lining if a slippery one Because of the near total destruction of the ships that fished the Gulf of Mexico prior to the storm fish populations boomed in its wake leaving more for dolphins to prey upon and thus resulting in a greater number of dolphin births according to one study 5 Sea Turtles Frank Burek Corbis RF The abnormally rough wave action during a hurricane usually results in a fair number of sea turtle deaths However even greater mortality may result from the damage done to the turtles nests by storm surges which may either expose their eggs to the elements or bury them too deeply for the hatchlings to emerge The reptiles are at further risk from man made debris that has been washed into the ocean and may resemble food to them and from the damage done by sedimentation and pollution to the sea grass beds that some species rely upon for food 4 Corals NOAA OAR OER Unlike any of the above organisms corals must weather the storm in place There s no hope of escape when you re a sedentary creature Though the calcareous skeletons of hard coral species afford some protection against the brutal action of waves those very skeletons can prove a liability to neighboring colonies pieces of coral that break off can damage adjoining portions of the reef when they are slammed together by churning currents In the wake of a hurricane recovering reefs may be further threatened by sediment and nutrient deposition which can prevent photosynthesis of symbiotic algae and encourage the growth of competing algae species smothering already stressed colonies 3 Shellfish Nellaine Price Survival Oxford Scientific Films Like corals sedentary shellfish such as oysters can sustain mechanical damage as a result of increased wave action and may be washed ashore where they cannot survive As filter feeders they may also succumb to pollutants washed into the ocean by the hurricane Salinity changes may also be fatal Mobile shellfish such as crabs and shrimps may simply move away from treacherous waters until they recover but they too are susceptible to the power of the waves 2 Trees Gino Santa Maria Fotolia Images of palm trees bending and breaking under the force of hurricane winds are nearly ubiquitous in any hurricane news coverage What hurricane report would be complete without a distressed reporter getting soaked while a comically prostrated palm is whipping about in the background Damage to coastal trees doesn t end when the winds stop though Storm surges inundate

    Original URL path: http://www.britannica.com/list/8-nonhuman-casualties-of-hurricanes (2016-02-13)
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  • 6 Domestic Animals and Their Wild Ancestors | Britannica.com
    clever agrarians of the Fertile Crescent Some 10 000 years ago several sub species of this wild sheep were hauled down from the mountains their descendants destined to be turned into primitive precursors of the Ugg boot and shearling jacket if that isn t a tautology Wool producing varieties did not appear until several thousand years later as evidenced by the proportion of bones belonging to young animals at older archaeological sites which indicated early slaughter for hides and meat rather than long term wool production 7 Domestic sheep fameandfortunel Fotolia There are some 200 breeds of domestic sheep Ovis aries ranging from heavy wool producers that will overheat and die if not regularly shorn to smooth goat like tropical varieties Though the sheep s herding behavior has made it synonymous with mindless tractability some have shown remarkable signs of intelligence including name recognition Think about that the next time you slide your tootsies into a certain Australian brand of footwear 6 Wild boar Copyright St Myers Okapia Photo Researchers Around 9 000 years ago someone had the temerity to ensnare a herd of terrifying wild boars Sus scrofa likely somewhere in present day Turkey It is likely that Chinese and European wild boars were domesticated separately Whatever their provenance their ancestors were condemned to subsistence on human offal pigs often wandered the streets of ancient towns gobbling up garbage and turning it into easily accessible meat 5 Domestic pig Corbis Oh wow look at them now The surly wild boar has been developed into some 70 breeds of domestic pig Sus scrofa domesticus from the immediately recognizable pink swine à la Wilbur to hairy monstrous land breeds domestic animals that have evolved to suit the conditions where they are found Among the most maligned of domestic animals pigs are nonetheless highly intelligent and if recent medical advances are any indication they may be growing you a new heart you know to replace the one you clogged with bacon fat 4 Wild horse Geoff Simpson Nature Picture Library The wild horse Equus ferus was probably domesticated some 6 000 years ago in what is now Ukraine and Kazakhstan Early domestic horses were milked and eaten as well as used for transportation practices memorably depicted in fantasy author George R R Martin s A Song of Ice and Fire series Raw horse heart anyone The progenitor of the horse as we know it no longer exists in the wild though it likely resembled the related Przewalski s horse Equus przewalskii 3 Domestic horse Pall Stefansson Iceland Review There are over 200 breeds of horse Equus caballus as well as hundreds more local varieties unrecognized by breeding assocations Though the success of films like Seabiscuit and War Horse testify to the continued valorization of the equine once worshipped as a god or goddess in some cultures horse meat is still widely consumed In 2013 a major scandal erupted when a European processor mislabeled horse meat as beef prompting many companies to recall

    Original URL path: http://www.britannica.com/list/6-domestic-animals-and-their-wild-ancestors (2016-02-13)
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  • 9 of the World’s Deadliest Spiders | Britannica.com
    physical trauma at the site of the bite The bite itself has been described as similar to that of a bee sting and the venom the spider injects may cause itchiness at the site This painful bite coupled with their speed and startling appearance can be unsettling and some bite victims panic from the experience 5 Black Widow Spider Latrodectus mactans The black widow is responsible for more than 2 500 visits to poison control centers every year in the U S It is one species that can be found from the United States and parts of Canada through Latin America and the West Indies The most common member of Latrodectus in North America it makes its home in a variety of settings such as woodpiles burrows or among plants that serve as supports for its web The female is shiny black and usually has a reddish to yellow hourglass design on the underside of the spherical abdomen Sometimes two small triangles instead of a complete hourglass are present The body is about 2 5 cm 1 inch long The male seldom seen because it is often killed and eaten by the female after mating hence the spider s name is about one fourth the size of the female In addition to the hourglass design the male often has pairs of red and white stripes on the sides of the abdomen Its bite which may feel like a pinprick on the skin often produces severe muscle pain and cramping nausea and mild paralysis of the diaphragm which makes breathing difficult Most victims recover without serious complications Although the bite is thought to be fatal to very small children and the elderly no deaths have been attributed to bites by widow spiders in the United States 4 Brown Widow Spider Latrodectus geometricus The brown widow is thought to have evolved in Africa but the first specimen described came from South America It is classified as an invasive species elsewhere around the world Brown widow populations have appeared in southern California the Caribbean the U S states of the Gulf Coast as well as in Japan South Africa and Madagascar Australia and Cyprus The species makes its home in buildings inside old tires and under automobiles as well as among shrubs and other vegetation The spider has a brownish appearance that ranges from tan to almost black The abdomens of some specimens have ornate dark brown black white yellow or orange markings Unlike other members of the genus the hourglass marking on the underside of the brown widow is orange Brown widow venom is considered to be twice as powerful as that of the black widow however the species is not aggressive and only injects a tiny amount of venom when it bites Still brown widow bites were associated with the deaths of two people in Madagascar in the early 1990s These victims they were in poor health and they were not treated with antivenin 3 Red Widow Spider Latrodectus bishopi The

    Original URL path: http://www.britannica.com/list/9-of-the-worlds-deadliest-spiders (2016-02-13)
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  • 6 Animals of War | Britannica.com
    World War I trench rats were such a pervasive nuisance that commanders had to adopt rules against shooting the creatures for fear of depleting stocks of ammunition In the 21st century however rats have been trained to comb former battlefields in search of land mines These deadly remnants of war claim hundreds of lives each year and the rats powerful sense of smell allows them to uncover even those mines that avoid electronic detection 3 Chimps Manoj Shah Stone Getty Images Perhaps because a Planet of the Apes scenario has always seemed just a bit too plausible humans have not tried to weaponize other primates on any serious scale Giving a sword or rifle to an animal with near human intelligence and vastly superior strength just seems like a bad idea all around Chimps did however play a prominent role in the space race While the Soviet Union conducted what amounted to an orbital canine euthanasia program the United States paved the way for the Mercury astronauts with Ham a chimp who achieved suborbital flight and became something of a mascot for the U S space program Ham died in 1983 after spending the remainder of his life in captivity and his partial remains are interred at the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo New Mexico Other astrochimps met rather worse fates being leased to medical research laboratories after the U S A F concluded its space chimp program in the 1970s 2 Pigeons Alan D Wilson Often disparaged as rats with wings the humble pigeon has acted as a battlefield messenger since at least Caesar s conquest of Gaul in the first century BCE On the Western Front where things were often too quiet due to the vulnerability of telegraph cables and human runners pigeons were used to carry vital messages to and from the battle lines The homing pigeon Cher Ami saved the lives of nearly 200 American soldiers by delivering the message that a misdirected artillery barrage was falling on friendly troops During World War II the British intelligence service MI5 recognized the potential for clandestine communication conducted via pigeon Nazi SS chief Heinrich Himmler was in fact the President of the German National Pigeon Society and it enlisted a team of falconers to patrol the British skies According to the declassified after action report the falcons failed to bring down a single enemy pigeon but two pigeons were captured and made prisoners of war 1 Snakes Duncan Noakes Fotolia When an individual is regarded as one of the greatest military leaders in history he s bound to show up on a list like this more than once With that we return to Hannibal beaten by the Romans driven from his native Carthage and forced to seek refuge with King Prusias of Bithynia Still determined to strike at Rome in any manner possible he counseled Prusias in his conflict with Eumenes II leader of the Roman client state of Pergamum The Bithynians lacked the manpower

    Original URL path: http://www.britannica.com/list/6-animals-of-war (2016-02-13)
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  • Encyclopedia Britannica Lists | Britannica.com
    Mammals 10 of the World s Most Dangerous Fish 9 Mind Altering Plants 7 Animals That Turn White in Winter Browse Lists by Category History Music Animals Geography Literature Language Arts Culture Health Medicine Science Sports Recreation Food Pop Culture Society Philosophy Religion Technology Editor Picks Editor Picks Britannica editors share their opinions insightful commentary and fun facts on a variety of topics of personal interest Adam Augustyn The 10

    Original URL path: http://www.britannica.com/list/browse?c=1 (2016-02-13)
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