First they blew your mind when they told you Pluto isn’t actually a planet, then they told you that not only is Atlantis real, it’s been sitting in the bottom of some mudflats in Spain for a few thousand years. It seems history and science keep changing right in front of our eyes and pretty soon, nothing we learned in school will be true any more. Well, if you can’t deal with change, then you aren’t going to like these four things you learned in school are actually completely bogus.
The Pyramids Weren’t Built By Slaves
If you learned one thing about Egypt in school, it was that the pyramids are marvels of ancient technology…and that they were built by slaves. There are movies based around slaves working on the pyramids and every one has seen at least half a dozen pictures of the poor workers straining under the hot sun as their cruel masters wait, whip in hand, for someone to slack off. But working on the pyramids might not have been so bad after all. While it was still hard work to construct the massive monuments, recent research has shown that the workers were more likely skilled masons who had the right to leave whenever they wanted. Evidence to back this claim is supported in the fact that the workers had their own tombs right beside the pyramids. Egyptologists point out that someone that low on the social ladder would never have been buried so close to the pharaohs. Image via anniemarieangelo [Flickr]
Everything You Knew About Dinosaurs Is Wrong
Ok, maybe not everything you learned about dinos back in school was wrong, but a lot of it sure was. For one thing, there is no brontosaurus. Yeah, that giant lumbering monster we all learned about in grade school was actually an apatosaurus with the head of a camarasaurus. The worst thing about this inaccuracy is that it was discovered over a century ago, but up until recently, everyone (including a lot of elementary school teachers) still insisted on calling apatosauruses brontosauruses. I guess one mislabeled dino isn’t that big of a deal…but the incorrect visual representation of just about every dinosaur imaginable is. By now, you’ve probably heard that many dinosaurs probably had feathers, a huge change for those of us who grew up thinking about giant lizards roaming the prehistoric plains. But even those that probably didn’t look like giant birds still looked way cooler and more versatile than the oversized iguanas popularly imagined. These days, we even know what color some dinosaurs were, and they are a far call from the multitude of green shades we once imagined. If you really want to know just how different dinosaurs were compared to what we were taught, check out this great article on Listverse, about the Top 10 Dinosaurs That Aren’t What They Were. Image via Geoff S. [Flickr]
Arsenic Is One of the Building Blocks of Life
If you learned chemistry or biology in high school, you were probably taught that there are six chemical elements known as the “building blocks of life.” They are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur and phosphorus. These components make up the chemical composition of DNA and without them, life isn’t possible…or at least, we thought it wasn’t possible. Last year, scientists discovered a bacteria species living in a salt lake in California that was missing one of the building blocks of life, phosphorus, and instead had arsenic in its place. For some people, this might not seem like such a huge deal, particularly considering that arsenic is very close to phosphorus in its physical and chemical properties, but it’s a huge deal to scientists who suddenly saw a massive expansion in the scope of potential living things. It really makes a difference in intergalactic research, since the discovery opens up whole new planets as potential life-supporting ecosystems. Image via Artful Magpie [Flickr]
Humans Aren’t Really All That Special
Maybe this wasn’t the case for all of you, but when I was in school, the teachers seemed overly fascinated with telling us how much better humans are than other animals. They’d tell the class, “we’re the only animals who have complex emotions,” “no other animal is self-aware like we are,” “humans are the only creatures who use tools,” “we are the only species to communicate through complex language,” etc. I don’t know why they felt our fragile homo sapien egos were so threatened by other creatures, but I always thought that was a little strange. As it turns out, it was completely incorrect too. Recent studies show that elephants mourn the loss of their companions and many animals, particularly dogs (who have evolved in the companionship of humans), have far more complex emotions than scientists had ever imagined. And chimps don’t just have emotions; they also are self-aware enough to understand how their own actions will affect those around them. Well, we still have our intelligence to set us apart from the beasts right? Not so quick you homo sapien- supremacists. Actually, there are a lot of intelligent animals out there, many of which use tools and converse amongst themselves. Chimps have used spears to hunt for thousands of years, octopuses use coconut shells as both camouflage and as protection, and dolphins use sponges to help uncover fish that are hiding in the sand. As for language, bees have an incredibly complex language system allowing them to communicate what type of flower is located in a given place and how to get to that location. Monkeys not only communicate with one another vocally, but they even understand grammar rules. In fact, in some ways, animals are actually ahead of us in the language game. While humans cannot yet speak the language of any other animals, primates can be taught sign language so they can communicate with us in our own language. Image via Mundoo [Flickr] If this crushed your memories of grade school, I’m sorry, but now it’s your turn to get revenge. What have you learned isn’t true even though they told you it was a “fact” back in school?