Thursday, August 29, 2013

Charles Darwin was the first known person to suggest our ancestors may have originated in Africa. He was onto something, but most “civilized” westerners resisted the idea for decades, well into the next century in fact. Since then, Science has definitively proved that the human race originates from Africa. The earliest known Homo Sapiens (human) skeleton was discovered on the African continent. But you probably already know this. What you might not know is that Africa has some fun, interesting, sometimes bizarre, lesser known facts and claims.

Largest frog in the world 

Owing to its biblical proportions the Conraua Goliath is the largest frog on earth. Commonly known as the Goliath frog it can grow up to 33 cm and weighs up to a whopping 3 kg. Goliaths are mainly located in Cameroon and Equitorial Guinea near or in fast-flowing sandy-bottomed rivers. Sadly, their numbers are declining at an alarming rate mainly owing to the destruction of their natural habitat. Moreover they’re consumed as food and collected for the pet trade.

Ode to Ethiopia

Numerous ancient Greek literary texts reference the African country, Ethiopia. Even Homer, the famous Greek poet references with admiration Ethiopian people in both The Iliad and The Odyssey as, “amongst the noblest of men”. Ptolemy the Greek geographer, and others, believed that the Aethopian Olympus was where the gods lived when they were not in Greece.

Longest river on earth

Egypt is the most visited country in Africa. It’s home to the pyramids of Giza (once the tallest structures on earth and visible from the moon), gigantic temples and ancient mummies. It’s also home to longest river on the planet. The Nile is 4 132 miles (6 650 km) long. While the Nile is most associated with Egypt and the Sudan, it’s actually spans 11 African countries.

Biggest diamond ever found

Approximately half the world’s diamonds come from central and Southern Africa. In fact the largest gem-quality diamond, the Cullinan or The Great Star of Africa was discovered in 1905 near Pretoria, South Africa. At a height of approximately 10.5 cm it weighed 3106.75 carats (603.35 g).

Faster than Usain Bolt

Weighing between six and seven tons the African elephant is the largest animal on the planet. Owing to a decidedly long neck, the giraffe is the tallest. The largest reptile is the Nile crocodile. Found in the forests and mountains of central Africa, the gorilla is the world’s largest primate. The fastest animal on earth is the cheetah. Experts suggest that the cheetah has an even faster acceleration and a quicker top speed than Usain Bolt, the fastest man ever.

More than glamorous fact

Africa is all about diversity, endless natural landscapes, bright colour, vibrant people, culture and tradition, history and art, wine and food. It’s about wild animal safaris and coastal hideaways with warm sandy beaches. But more than this, in the words of author and poet Maya Angelou:

“… Africa is more than glamorous fact. It is a historical truth. No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and how he arrived at his present place.”  



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