Most people use Wikipedia for help with their homework, to look up their favorite celebrities, or to settle a bet. Here are a few shocking and bizarre pages you have probably never stumbled upon.
1. The Insatiable Tarrare
Tarrare was a showman and soldier in 18th century France who was known for having an insatiable and extremely unusual appetite. He could eat large amounts of meat in addition to corks, stones, and even live animals. During one experiment, he ate a meal intended for 15 people in one sitting.
During the War of the First Coalition, he joined the French Revolutionary Army. When the military rations were unable to fill him, he took to scavenging in gutters and rubbish heaps. One general attempted to use Tarrare’s appetite to the army’s advantage by having him swallow classified documents and pass them through enemy lines where they would…er, come out the other side.
Trying desperately to cure himself of his eating addition, Tarrare agreed to be hospitalized and was treated with laudanum, wine vinegar, and soft-boiled eggs. When none of this worked, he resorted to eating corpses from the hospital morgue.
After being accused of eating a toddler, Tarrare was dismissed from the hospital. He died years later of tuberculosis.
2. Lina Medina, The World’s Youngest Mother
Lina Medina, born in 1933 in Peru, is the youngest confirmed mother in medical history. She gave birth at the age of 5 years and seven months. After being brought to the hospital due to her increasing abdominal size, the doctor confirmed that she was 7 months pregnant.
She gave birth to a boy by Caesarean section. The child grew up believing that Lina was his sister. Lina never revealed who the father was and there was no further explanation given as to how a 5-year-old could have biologically conceived a child.
3. The Sailing Stones
The sailing stones, or moving rocks, are part of a geological phenomenon where rocks will move and create long tracks on a smooth valley floor without human or animal intervention.
These tracks have been found in several locations including Death Valley National Park in California and Little Bonnie Claire Playa in Nevada. The stones will only move every few years and the tracks will develop over three or four years.
4. Gloria Ramirez “The Toxic Lady”
Gloria Ramirez was a California resident who was dubbed “The Toxic Lady” in 1994 after exposure to her body and blood made several hospital workers quite ill.
She came into the emergency room one evening suffering from symptoms of advanced cervical cancer. When the nurses attempted defibrillation, they noticed an oily sheen covering her body and a fruity, garlic-like odor. One of them noticed an ammonia smell coming from her blood tube and manila-colored particles floating in her blood.
All three of the attending nurses ended up passing out, and overall 23 people became ill. Five people were hospitalized after exposure to Ramirez. Gloria herself passed away from kidney failure just 30 minutes after her arrival. The Department of Health And Human Services investigated the odd case; one theory attributed the reaction to mass hysteria. Another theory has attributed Ramirez’s condition to her home use of dimethyl sulfoxide (SMSO) for pain.
The bizarre case has been used as the basis for a scene in one episode of The X-Files as well as Grey’s Anatomy and Law & Order.
5. The Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic
In 1962, there was an outbreak of mass hysteria that occurred in the village of Kashasha in the former nation of Tanganyika, located in present-day Tanzania. The laughter began with three girls at a boarding school and spread throughout the school, affecting over 50 percemt of the student population of children ages 12-18.
Teachers were not affected but the school was forced to close as a result of the students being unable to focus. The epidemic spread to a nearby village and over 1,000 people were eventually affected with laughing attacks, most being children and young adults.
Symptoms lasted anywhere from a few hours to 16 days. After the laughing subsided, those afflicted appeared to be left in a zombie-like state accompanied by pain, flatulence, rashes, crying, and random screaming.
Charles F. Hempelmann of Purdue University concluded that the epidemic was most likely stress induced due to Tanganyika just having won its independence. Ironically, this case was no laughing matter.
6. The Mysterious Underwater “Bloop”
Sounds kinda funny, doesn’t it? Well, the reality is a lot scarier. The bloop was an extremely loud and unexplainable underwater sound that was detected by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the late 1990s.
For awhile, NOAA was of the opinion that the sound came from an animal…one that would be several times bigger than the blue whale (the heaviest animal known to man). Some years later, the NOAA Vents Program attributed the sound to a large icequake.
7. Rat King
Unfortunately this “Rat King” is no regal rodent. In this instance, rat kings refer to a number of rats who become intertwined by their tails, stuck together with a combination of blood, feces, or dirt.
The earliest report of rat kings goes back to 1594. Specimens of this phenomenon are kept in some museums. Historically, the rat king has been considered a bad omen, due to rats being carriers of disease and plague.
8. The Disappearance of the Roanoke Colony
In August 1587, a group of over 100 English settlers came to Roanoke Island, which is off the coast of North Carolina. Later that year, Governor John White returned to England to get more supplies but was detained by a war.
When he returned to Roanoke three years later, all of the inhabitants had vanished. The only clue was the word “Croatoan” carved into a wooden post. The whereabouts of the Roanoke residents remains a mystery to this day.
9. Locked-In Syndrome
Locked-in syndrome is a devastating condition during which someone is fully conscious and mentally acute but cannot move or communicate due to paralysis of almost all of the voluntary muscles in the body.
Possible causes include poisoning, multiple sclerosis, brainstem stroke, and traumatic brain injury among others. There is no treatment and no cure for this condition.
10. June and Jennifer Gibbons
June and Jennifer Gibbons were known as “The Silent Twins” because they only communicated with each other. Born in Wales in 1963, they were the only two black children in their community and were bullied by the other children at their school. In an attempt to get them to socialize, the girls were separated at age 14 and sent to different boarding schools, where they both became catatonic.
When they were eventually reunited, they began writing fiction novels, some of which were published. They also committed a series of crimes including arson and were then committed to a mental institution where they remained for 14 years.
During their stay, they confided to a journalist named Marjorie Wallace that it was necessary for one of them to die in order for the other to live a normal life. In March 1993, Jennifer passed away of acute myocarditis (inflammation of the heart), but there was no evidence of drugs or poison in her system to which her death could be attributed.
As of 2008, June was living independently near her parents in West Wales.
11. Genie, The Feral Child
Genie was born in 1957 and was the victim of severe neglect, abuse, and isolation. Her father kept her locked alone in isolation from the age of 20 months to 13 years, strapped to a toilet or bound to a crib. She was never exposed to much speech and did not acquire any language skills during her childhood.
After being discovered by the Los Angeles child welfare authorities, she became the subject of many tests and eventually developed some nonverbal communication skills as well as basic social skills.
After leaving the hospital in 1971, Genie was moved around numerous times; she lived with her teacher at the hospital, the head of the research team investigating her case, and, eventually, her biological mother.
After she turned 18, she was placed in several different institutions for disabled adults, where she was subject to further physical and emotional abuse. Due to this treatment, her communication and social skills quickly regressed.
Her current condition and whereabouts are unknown.