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Chicken: Top 10 facts about the popular poultry after the KFC drama

1. There are between 19 and 25 billion chickens in the world, which is about three for every person. 2. Humans have been rearing chickens for at least 8,000 years. 3. The earliest domestic chickens were probably bred primarily for cock-fighting, not food. 4. The average hen can lay about 300 eggs a year. 5. The complete chicken genome was first sequenced in 2004. Genetic differences in strains of chicken are monitored by the International Chicken Genome Consortium. 6. Roosters perform a dance called “tidbitting”, making food calls and moving…

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Saint Lucia: Top 10 facts about this Caribbean island

1. Saint Lucia is the only country in the world named after a woman. 2. It was named after St Lucy of Syracuse by shipwrecked French sailors in the 16th century, said to have landed there on St Lucy’s day, December 13 (year unknown).  3. In 1664, a British force of 1,000 men seized Saint Lucia.  Within two years most had died of disease.  4. In the 18th and 19th centuries, it changed hands many times between the UK and France.   5. The song Santa Lucia was written in praise…

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Dumplings: Top 10 facts about the dish Mary Berry wants to bring back

1. By coincidence, yesterday was the fifth day of the Chinese New Year, which is the traditional day for eating wonton, as the Chinese call dumplings. 2. The word “wonton” means “swallowing cloud”. 3. Dumplings signify prosperity and the reunion of the family. 4. According to legend, dumplings were created by third century Chinese physician Zhang Zhongjing who made ear-shaped dumplings to treat villagers with frostbitten ears. 5. The English word “dumpling” was first seen in 1600 and possibly came from an old German word “dump” meaning damp and heavy.…

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Handcuffs: Top 10 facts about shackles

1. The word “handcuff” was first seen in English in 1591 for a decorative band at the end of sleeves.  2. The earliest use as a means of restraint was in an English parliamentary paper of 1649 referring to a man being “manacled with hand-cuffes of iron”.  3. Roman poet Virgil, writing in the first century BC, referred to sea god Proteus having his wrists bound to prevent him from shape-shifting.  4. The earliest metal handcuffs date back to the Bronze and Iron Ages but were actually a one-size-fits-all design…

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Tug of War: Top 10 facts you never knew about this sport

1. Tug of war was included in the Olympic Games from 1900 to 1920.  2. It was one of Britain’s most successful events.  Between 1908 and 1920, Britain won two gold, two silver and two bronze medals at tug of war.  3. There was a dispute in 1908 when the US team accused the UK of cheating by using boot studs.  4. The British promptly challenged them to a rematch in socks but the offer was not taken up.  5. The Tug of War International Federation was founded in 1960.…

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Dogs: 10 things you never knew about man’s best friend

1. Chinese years go through a 12-year cycle of animals and a five-year cycle of elements. This year is an Earth Dog, which last occurred in 1958.  2. People born in Year of the Dog are said to be honest, loyal, friendly and smart. Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Prince William were all born in the Year of the Dog.  3. Dogs are the most popular pets in the UK, owned by 24 per cent of people. 4. Dogs overtook cats in 2012 as the UK’s most popular pet…  5.…

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Hippopotamuses: 10 things you never knew about these river beasts

1. The animal we now know as “hippopotamus” was first mentioned in English under the name “ypotamus” or “ypotamos” in the 14th century. 2. The word “hippopotamus” comes from two Greek words meaning “river horse”. 3. Because it is Greek not Latin, the plural is “hippopotamuses” not “hippopotami”. 4. The abbreviation “hippo” was first seen in 1872. 5. The elephant and white rhinoceros are the only animals bigger than a hippo. 6. The usual collective nouns for a group of hippos are “pod” or “bloat” but “crash”, “dale” and “herd”…

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Valentine’s Day: Top 10 facts about this annual day of love

1. Apart from his association with lovers, St Valentine is patron saint of beekeepers, epilepsy and plague. 2. The feast of St Valentine on February 14 was established by Pope Gelasius I in 496… 3. …but there are at least three St Valentines with February 14 feasts, one from Rome, one from central Italy and one who suffered in Africa. 4. Even Pope Gelasius said that facts about St Valentine and his acts were “known only to God”. 5. Chaucer, in his “Parliament of Foules” written in the 1380s, mentioned…

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Pancake Day: Top 10 facts you didn’t know about this annual tradition

1. The word “shrove” is the past tense of the old verb “to shrive”, meaning to hear a confession or impose a penance. 2. Apart from Shrove Tuesday, the only surviving use of the term is in “short shrift”, originally a quick confession for a condemned criminal. 3. The traditional annual Pancake Race in Olney, Buckinghamshire began in 1445. 4. In 1950 it became an international event, with times at Olyney compared with those in Liberal, Kansas. Liberal has won 37 times, Olney 29. 5. The word “pancake” dates back…

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Winter Olympics: Top 10 facts about the sporting tradition

1. The modern Summer Olympics began in 1896 but the Winter Olympics were only added in 1924.  2. The 1924 event in Chamonix was run by the French Olympic Committee but only recognised by the International Olympic Committee as official Winter Olympics after they had finished.  3. There were 16 events at the 1924 Winter Olympics compared with 102 events this year.  4. Until 1992 Winter Olympics were held in the same year as Summer Games. Since then it has been in years midway between Summer Olympics.  5. The USA…

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