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Wikimedia Commons // Leo Gonzales

What Happened to the Venus De Milo's Arms?

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Wikimedia Commons // Leo Gonzales

On April 8, 1820, several pieces of a broken statue were found on a farmer’s land on the Aegean island of Melos. Deemed the “Venus de Milo” for the island of her origin, the statue was quickly purchased by France. After she was presented to King XVIII, Venus was donated to the Louvre, where she’s been holding court ever since.

Though her missing arms are her most famous feature, it’s possible that Venus had at least the left one at the time she was discovered. Relatives of the farmer who dug up the pieces later claimed that when they were there for the big find, Venus had a left hand that clutched an apple. Other letters from people involved in the purchase reference her broken arms, saying that they were “presently detached from the body,” perhaps indicating that they could later be put back on.

One tale goes that the French Navy vessel sent to retrieve the statue from Melos was involved in a scuffle with a Greek ship. During the fight, the statue was somehow dashed against some rocks, breaking off both arms. The story was later proved false, as an earlier sketch of the statue showed it armless before the transaction took place.

Whether or not they were originally there, Venus’s arms aren’t the only things missing now. The statue was originally adorned with metal jewelry, including a bracelet, earrings, and a headband. The holes where the jewelry was once attached to the marble still remain. Venus is also missing her left foot.

There’s another major piece that’s not included with the statue display: Part of the Venus’s base was also found in that field in Melos, bearing the inscription, “Alexandros son of Menides, citizen of Antioch of Meander made the statue.” The base may be legitimately missing, or it may just be stashed away.

Though the ability to identify the artist seems like good news, France was anything but pleased about the discovery. Because Antioch wasn’t founded until the late third century B.C., the base placed the creation of the statue somewhere in the Hellenistic period. The problem with this is that France had already touted the Venus de Milo as a prime example of classical art, and the date and location of the piece now said otherwise. Officials convinced themselves the base was part of a restoration completed at a later date, and decided not to display it with the statue. It’s been missing ever since, although the museum’s conservator of Greek antiquities insists they wouldn’t have destroyed such an important piece of history.

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Big Questions
Why Do Cats Freak Out After Pooping?
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Cats often exhibit some very peculiar behavior, from getting into deadly combat situations with their own tail to pouncing on unsuspecting humans. Among their most curious habits: running from their litter box like a greyhound after moving their bowels. Are they running from their own fecal matter? Has waste elimination prompted a sense of euphoria?

Experts—if anyone is said to qualify as an expert in post-poop moods—aren’t exactly sure, but they’ve presented a number of entertaining theories. From a biological standpoint, some animal behaviorists suspect that a cat bolting after a deposit might stem from fears that a predator could track them based on the smell of their waste. But researchers are quick to note that they haven’t observed cats run from their BMs in the wild.

Biology also has a little bit to do with another theory, which postulates that cats used to getting their rear ends licked by their mother after defecating as kittens are showing off their independence by sprinting away, their butts having taken on self-cleaning properties in adulthood.

Not convinced? You might find another idea more plausible: Both humans and cats have a vagus nerve running from their brain stem. In both species, the nerve can be stimulated by defecation, leading to a pleasurable sensation and what some have labeled “poo-phoria,” or post-poop elation. In running, the cat may simply be working off excess energy brought on by stimulation of the nerve.

Less interesting is the notion that notoriously hygienic cats may simply want to shake off excess litter or fecal matter by running a 100-meter dash, or that a digestive problem has led to some discomfort they’re attempting to flee from. The fact is, so little research has been done in the field of pooping cat mania that there’s no universally accepted answer. Like so much of what makes cats tick, a definitive motivation will have to remain a mystery.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Big Questions
Why Do Baseball Managers Wear Uniforms?
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Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Basketball and hockey coaches wear business suits on the sidelines. Football coaches wear team-branded shirts and jackets and often ill-fitting pleated khakis. Why are baseball managers the only guys who wear the same outfit as their players?

According to John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball since 2011, it goes back to the earliest days of the game. Back then, the person known as the manager was the business manager: the guy who kept the books in order and the road trips on schedule. Meanwhile, the guy we call the manager today, the one who arranges the roster and decides when to pull a pitcher, was known as the captain. In addition to managing the team on the field, he was usually also on the team as a player. For many years, the “manager” wore a player’s uniform simply because he was a player. There were also a few captains who didn’t play for the team and stuck to making decisions in the dugout, and they usually wore suits.

With the passing of time, it became less common for the captain to play, and on most teams they took on strictly managerial roles. Instead of suits proliferating throughout America’s dugouts, though, non-playing captains largely hung on to the tradition of wearing a player's uniform. By the early to mid 20th century, wearing the uniform was the norm for managers, with a few notable exceptions. The Philadelphia Athletics’s Connie Mack and the Brooklyn Dodgers’s Burt Shotton continued to wear suits and ties to games long after it fell out of favor (though Shotton sometimes liked to layer a team jacket on top of his street clothes). Once those two retired, it’s been uniforms as far as the eye can see.

The adherence to the uniform among managers in the second half of the 20th century leads some people to think that MLB mandates it, but a look through the official major league rules [PDF] doesn’t turn up much on a manager’s dress. Rule 1.11(a) (1) says that “All players on a team shall wear uniforms identical in color, trim and style, and all players’ uniforms shall include minimal six-inch numbers on their backs" and rule 2.00 states that a coach is a "team member in uniform appointed by the manager to perform such duties as the manager may designate, such as but not limited to acting as base coach."

While Rule 2.00 gives a rundown of the manager’s role and some rules that apply to them, it doesn’t specify that they’re uniformed. Further down, Rule 3.15 says that "No person shall be allowed on the playing field during a game except players and coaches in uniform, managers, news photographers authorized by the home team, umpires, officers of the law in uniform and watchmen or other employees of the home club." Again, nothing about the managers being uniformed.

All that said, Rule 2.00 defines the bench or dugout as “the seating facilities reserved for players, substitutes and other team members in uniform when they are not actively engaged on the playing field," and makes no exceptions for managers or anyone else. While the managers’ duds are never addressed anywhere else, this definition does seem to necessitate, in a roundabout way, that managers wear a uniform—at least if they want to have access to the dugout. And, really, where else would they sit?

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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