First News
Volume:7, Number:40
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FUN FACTS
THIS WEEK

Smoke Between Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals

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Researchers have identified enzymes in humans, which break down potentially harmful polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which we breathe in with smoke from campfires or absorb when eating burned or charred meat. Our ancient hominin cousins, the Neanderthals, may have been wiped out by smoke. So while Neanderthals, like Homo Sapiens, could light and control fires, only the latter developed ways to deal with the resulting toxins and prevent smoke-related respiratory infections, fertility problems, and mortality.

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History of Forks

Catherine de Medici is remembered as the woman who introduced France to the fork. But it was slow to catch on. When Catherine’s son Henry III was crowned, he was regarded as effete and possibly homosexual, and his use of a fork was considered evidence of his less-than-manly preferences. However, forks were not commonly used in Southern Europe until the 16th century when they became part of Italian etiquette. The fork did not become popular in North America until near the time of the American Revolution.

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History of Mummification

Mummifying was a royal affair in ancient Egypt. Everyone below royalty would bury their family members in the desert. In fact, pre-Old Kingdom, that was how everyone was buried! And around this time, beliefs developed that a person’s spirit and personality needed a preserved, whole body to be reborn into the afterlife. The pharaohs and high officials started wanting to be buried in elaborate caskets and tombs. So they developed techniques to allow royal bodies to be preserved, and then placed in their tombs.

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