Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge
In 1883, Hawaiian sugar cane farmers brought a bunch of mongooses to their islands to hunt the rats eating their crops. Had they bothered to ask a zoologist, they might have learned that mongooses are active during the day and rats at night, so the mongooses would barely dent the rat population. Zoologists, what do they know?
But it gets better. The Mongooses flourished since they had no native predators, but in return, many species of birds, reptiles, insects, and plants had no defenses against the mongooses, resulting in the near extinction of several Hawaiian animal populations.
Oh, but it gets better still. In its native lands, the mongoose is currently threatened by habitat loss. So, in the places it shouldn't be, it's considered an invasive species where people may kill on sight. In places it should be, it can't get by. Go team! (source) and (source)
Nag and Nagaina are Indian cobras (a.k.a. Spectacled cobras). This species belongs to a group of snakes called "the Asian big four." The other three include the Common Krait (Remember him? He makes a brief cameo in the story), the Russell's Viper, and the Saw-Scaled Viper. These snakes aren't necessarily more venomous than others, but they follow rats, mice, and other rodents to wherever they might live. And where do these rodents live? In the cities built by people. Since these snakes come into contact with people more often than other species, the bite count is higher. A higher bite count means more fatalities. So it's not that the snakes are evil or anything like that. The only thing sinister here is statistics. (source)
Rikki-tikki has only had two movies based on his story. Meanwhile, that wolf cub Mowgli has had a thousand (slight exaggeration) different roles in movies, film, and cartoons. But Rikki-tikki does manage to secure bit parts in various Jungle Book projects. For example, he has a small cameo in the Japanese anime series Jungle Book Shonen Mowgli. He's also guest starred in a few episodes of the Disney channel's CGI Jungle Book TV series. The important thing is that Rikki-tikki stays busy while he primes himself for his next big project. (source)
There is an open source wiki engine called WikkTikkiTavi. It's written in PHP scripting language. Its name makes us laugh. That is all. (source)
Kipling wasn't just a winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature; he was the first English writer to win it. He was presented the award for "consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration which characterize the creations of this world-famous author." Wow, those Nobel guys should just ask him out already.
Then again, not everyone had so high an opinion of Mr. Kipling. George Orwell called him "a jingo imperialist, he is morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting." Yikes. And we're pretty sure they're talking about the same Rudyard Kipling. Guess you never can really know a guy. (source) and (source)
The plural of mongoose is mongooses and not mongeese. Glad we could clear that up! Oh, you want to know why? Then prepare to get etymological. Our word goose comes from the Old High Germanic word gans. Its plural form is the result of what linguists call the i-mutation, where shifting vowels resulted in an irregular plural of the word. But mongoose entered our language from the Indic word "mangus" sometime in the 1690s. By then, irregular plurals resulting from the i-mutation were no longer being created (though some, like geese, feet, and mice hung around for old time's sake). Ergo, facto, presto, English speakers simply said mongooses and let that be that. (source), (source), and (source)