WTF Fun Fact 13549 – Australia is Wider than the Moon

It’s hard to get a handle on just how big some land masses are – but while we know the land down under was big, we were still surprised to find out that Australia is wider than the moon! Of course, they’re not the same shape, so that makes a difference in terms of their size.

Australia is Wider than the Moon – With a Caveat

When discussing Australia’s vastness, people often mention its sweeping deserts, extensive coastline, and large metropolises. But a fact that frequently catches many off guard is that, in terms of width, Australia is wider than the moon.

The moon’s diameter measures about 3,474 kilometers. It might seem massive when you gaze up on a clear night, especially considering it’s over 384,400 kilometers away from Earth. But in terms of sheer size, it’s modest compared to some of the celestial bodies in our vast universe.

Australia’s Impressive Span

Stretching from its westernmost point of Steep Point in Western Australia to its easternmost tip at Cape Byron in New South Wales, Australia boasts a width of approximately 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles). This makes Australia over 500 kilometers wider than the moon. It’s an astonishing fact, given that the moon appears so dominant in our night sky.

Drawing from NASA’s data, the moon’s equatorial diameter measures at 3,476 km (2,159 miles). But this comparison demands further nuance.

The moon’s form is spherical, making it a three-dimensional entity. Australia, while vast, exists more like a two-dimensional plane on the surface of the Earth. This distinction is crucial. While Australia’s width might surpass that of the moon, the moon’s total surface area, encompassing 37.94 million square kilometers (14.65 million square miles), vastly exceeds Australia’s land area.

Perception vs. Reality

One might wonder, if Australia is wider than the moon, why does the moon appear so large in our sky? The answer lies in perception. The moon orbits Earth at a relatively close distance, making it appear larger to us. Additionally, phenomena like the “moon illusion,” where the moon appears larger near the horizon than when higher in the sky, can further skew our perceptions.

On the other hand, it’s challenging for our minds to grasp the true expanse of Australia. Most people experience countries piece by piece, city by city, or via maps that sometimes distort scale due to their projection. Thus, the full breadth of Australia’s landscape is not always immediately evident.

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Source: “Is Australia Wider than the Earth’s Moon?” — Snopes

WTF Fun Fact 13415 – World’s Oldest Dog

If dog years are to be believed, Bobi, the world’s oldest dog, would be pushing towards a ripe 217 years old. However, in human years, Bobi has just celebrated a resounding 31st birthday.

The story of the world’s oldest dog

Bobi, a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo, a breed of Portuguese dog, has surpassed all expectations and defied age itself. Bobi’s owners have cared for him with a devotion that has no doubt added to his longevity.

Bobi’s journey started on 11 May 1992, and he’s been going strong ever since. The average life expectancy for a dog is 12 – 14 years, and the pup has more than doubled that! Imagine how wonderful it would be to have your best friend by your side for three decades. Almost none of us are that lucky when it comes to furry friends, sadly.

Bobi’s family planned a big birthday bash for him in May of 2023. They said it would be a very traditional Portuguese party.

A second life

Bobi has lived his entire life with the same family – the Costa family – in the rural village of Conqueiros. That’s located in the picturesque area of Leiria, in western Portugal.

His Guinness Book of World Records broke that of Bluey, an Australian cattle dog who lived for 29 years and 5 months between 1910 and 1939. Bluey held his record for a century!

As Bobi continues to defy age and inspire us all, his story serves as a reminder of the profound impact that love, care, and companionship can have on our furry friends. With each passing day, Bobi demonstrates the immeasurable joy and boundless happiness that our beloved pets bring into our lives.

Let’s celebrate Bobi’s exceptional journey and cherish the moments we share with our own cherished companions. But hold the visitors – Bobi is largely in good health, but his vet is worried about him being stressed by all of the people who have come by recently to take a photo with the old boy.

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Source: “Bobi, the world’s oldest dog, celebrates 31st birthday” — CNN

WTF Fun Fact 13131 – Queensland’s Rabbit Laws

We’ve heard of rabbit control, but Queensland’s Rabbit Laws are a bit on the strange side. For example, you cannot own a rabbit in Queensland unless you can prove you are going to display it for an acceptable purpose.

Queensland, Australia’s unique outlook on rabbits

It’s illegal to keep a rabbit as a pet in the state of Queensland. But according to the state’s business website: “…you can obtain a European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) for the purposes of exhibiting to the public. Under the Exhibited Animals Act 2015 (EAA) rabbits are category B species and may be exhibited for purposes such as educational exhibits or for entertainment.”

Those who work with rabbits much apply for a license and the premise at which the exhibition takes place needs to be licensed as well. “An example may include an invasive pest educational centre, or a zoo where the public enter the regular enclosure site to view the rabbit.”

The rules continue: “Rabbits may also be obtained solely for the purposes of exhibition outside of the premise where the licence is issued to (off the regular enclosure site). An example of activities permitted solely off the regular enclosure site include persons in the business of conducting magic performances at children’s parties.”

Queensland’s rabbit laws, continued

You must apply to exhibit a rabbit using an authorized form as well as submit a management plan detailing the way you are going to exhibit the rabbit and deal with it on a daily basis.

The management plan must address “animal welfare, human health, safety and wellbeing, social amenity, the economy and the environment…” People need to be aware of their obligations.

Why is this all such a big deal? Well, rabbits are an invasive species that Queensland has been trying to get rid of since the 1880s!  WTF fun facts

Source: “Exhibiting a rabbit” — Business Queensland

WTF Fun Fact 13067 – The Man With the Golden Arm

James Harrison earned the nickname “the man with the golden arm” after saving the lives of millions of children. That’s because Harrison not only has unique blood with disease-fighting abilities, but he donated that blood every week for 60 years. He “retired” from blood donation in 2018 at age 81.

Who is the man with the golden arm?

James Harrison is an Australian man who needed chest surgery at age 14. After blood donations saved his life at a young age, he pledged to become a life-long blood donor.

After Harrison started giving blood, doctors realized he had unique components in his blood plasma that allowed them to make Anti-D injections. These injections are given to pregnant women whose fetuses are at risk from Rhesus disease, which causes a mother’s immune system to attack her fetus’ blood cells. This puts them at higher risk of anemia and jaundice after birth.

Rhesus disease is rare and occurs when a mother has a rhesus-negative blood type, and her fetus has a rhesus-positive blood type.

Doctors believe that Harrison’s rare blood may be the result of transfusions he received as a child after surgery.

Saving millions

Harrison’s blood plasma can be used to make an injection that prevents women from developing antibodies that harm the fetus during pregnancy.

In Australia, roughly 3 million women with the rhesus-negative blood type have been given an Anti-D injection, nearly all of which are a result of Harrison’s donations. Even his own grandchild was saved by the injection.

Prior to Harrison’s blood donations, thousands of fetal deaths, stillbirths, and baby deaths occurred in Australia each year as a result of Rhesus disease.

For his donations, Harrison is considered a national hero in Australia and has received the country’s national Medal of Honor.

Harrison retired at the age of 81 – but that’s only because in Australia you can no longer donate blood beyond that age.  WTF fun facts

Source: “He donated blood every week for 60 years” — CNN

WTF Fun Fact 12767 – Lyrebird Mimicry

There are actually two types of lyrebirds, both live in Australia, and both are fabulous mimics. We just think the superb lyrebird has a better name. The other one is called Albert’s lyrebird and it’s a little less showy (but equally capable of mimicry).

Lyrebird taxonomy

The superb lyrebird belongs to the genus Menura (family Menuridae, order Passeriformes, if you like to get truly taxonomic). The birds live in the forests of southeastern Australia and do not fly – they are groundbirds.

For the most part, they’re not so impressive to look at. They look a lot like brown chickens. Well, except for the male superb lyrebird – he has to show off to attract females.

What does a lyrebird look like?

According to Britannica (cited below), “the male’s tail consists of eight pairs of ornate feathers, which resemble a lyre when erect. There are six pairs of filmy whitish feathers. One pair of 60–75-cm (24–30-inch) feathers that form the arms of the ‘lyre’ are broad and curled at the tip and are silvery on one side and marked with golden-brown crescents on the other. There are also two equally long ‘wires,’ narrow, stiff, slightly curved feathers that correspond to a lyre’s strings; they are situated in the centre of the curved ‘arms’…When the male displays in small clearings, which he makes at several places in the forest, he brings his tail forward so that the white plumes form a canopy over his head and the lyrelike feathers stand out to the side.”

Lyrebird mimicry

Here’s our favorite part of Britannica’s description: “In this position he sings, while prancing in rhythm, far-carrying melodious notes interspersed with perfect mimicry of other creatures and even of mechanical sounds.”

You might not think much of that at first, but the fact that a bird can mimic just about any sound is not only impressive but potentially creepy. Imagine walking through the deep forest in Australia (known for all manner of amazing-yet-terrifying creatures) only to hear the sound of a predator, a crying child, or a chainsaw!

We’d be freaked out, to say the least.

Seriously, listen to this bird mimic a baby crying!

Ok, now listen to construction noise (we had to double-check to make sure it was real):

Next time you head construction in the outback, look closer to the ground if you don’t see any men with tools. It may just be a lyrebird trying to troll you.

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Source: “Lyrebird” – Britannica

WTF Fun Fact 12730 – Male Kangaroos Flex Their Biceps

Male kangaroos and male humans have something in common – they flex their biceps to impress females. Researchers showed that male western grey kangaroos use their biceps both for combat and to compete for the ladies.

The Conversation interviewed kangaroo expert Rod Wells, who said that bigger biceps might mean an “additional advantage from either females finding big forelimbs sexy or alternatively the males which win the right to access the females are then strong enough to overpower any unwilling female.”

We’re not impressed by that last part.

Kangaroos have long been a symbol of strength. According to Smithsonian Magazine: “The Royal Australian Air Force used a boxing kangaroo starting in 1891. For a while, kangaroos would fight men in boxing rings. And, in fact, a male kangaroo biceps are a lot more impressive than you might think.”

Fighting and flexing kangaroos are a new concept to some of us. For example, in 2017, an Australian snapped a photo of a particularly jacked kangaroo he came across while taking his dog for a walk. While its musculature is not super common, it brought attention to the fact that kangaroos can get ripped.

According to Men’s Health: “Jackson Vincent, a 27-year-old gardener in Australia, was walking his dog Dharma on his grandmother’s property near Boodjidup Creek when he spotted the massive ‘roo. He said he’s seen kangaroos on the land since he was a kid, but few that have been that large, according to the Sun. The ‘roo was standing in the creek nearly fully submerged, and as Vincent started to take photos, it started to come at him.”

While we’re smart enough not to approach a wild animal we don’t know much about, we plan to be extra careful with kangaroos from now on. If you’re not convinced, you may want to check out the video below and watch them kick each other’s butts – it’s quite a sight!

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Source: “It’s Not Just Men Who Flex Their Biceps at Women—Kangaroos Do, Too” — Smithsonian Magazine

WTF Fun Fact 12634 – Gnomesville, Australia

The story goes that it all started with one gnome. People were impressed when more showed up. After hundreds more were added, it became a bit of a tourist attraction. At 3000 gnomes, it became a destination. Now, by some estimates, there are 5 – 10,000.

They are collected in tiny villages, and on logs. All seemingly having a great time next to their cute gnome-y signs and other garden paraphernalia.

Gnomesville is in Australia, and the nearest big city is Perth. Its address is a lot number, so you have to follow the signs.

As one visitor put it:

At Gnomesville you will see a massive community of garden gnomes.  Current counts are apparently over 10,000 but I am sure that no one really knows.  All that I do know is that when you arrive (and you will know you are arriving by the appearance of a few Gnomes on the side of the road) that you are overwhelmed by the numbers of gnomes all around you.

Gnomesville Western Australia is not a place to rush around.  I mean you could walk around in 15 minutes and say “oh cool that’s a LOT of gnomes”.  The joy is in stopping and looking at the gnomes.  Literally every gnome tells a story.  They are doing all sorts of things (sometimes a little bit rude) and its very interesting.

A pretty creek runs through Gnomesville and the gnomes have set up homes up there, underneath some beautiful trees.

Also interesting are the stories of the people that left the gnomes.  You can see that people have visited from all around the world.  There are some sad stories and some celebrations.  I feel like Gnomesville Perth provides insight to travelers – and locals from around the world about what it means to be alive.”

The good news is that there’s no entry fee! – WTF fun facts

Source: “Gnomesville is Real! A Quirky Spot in Ferguson Valley, Australia” — Albom Adventures

WTF Fun Fact 12417 – The Aussie Life-Saver

Much like the Golden Gate Bridge, “The Gap” has become a popular place for those with suicidal intentions to meet their end. While it’s a relatively secluded cliff, there is one important home nearby – the one that belonged to Don Ritchie before his death in 2012.

Over the 50 years Ritchie lived in his home, the Australian WWII Navy veteran struck up hundreds of conversations with nearly inconsolable people by asking, “Is there something I could do to help you?”.

Some say he likely saved around 500 lives simply for being there for people, though the official number is 160.

Interestingly, Ritchie was a life insurance salesman, and his choice of where to live was intentional.

He died in 2012 of natural causes but was recognized during his lifetime with a Medal of the Order of Australia. The so-called “Angel of the Gap” hoped that some kind soul would move into his house and take his place someday. – WTF Fun Facts

Source: “Australia mourns ‘Angel of the Gap’ Don Ritchie, the man who talked 160 out of suicide” — The Independent