"Arthropods" is the seventh episode of the A Series of QI. It first aired on 16 October 2003 on BBC Four, and was broadcast on BBC Two a week later. It was the first ever episode in which Alan Davies did not come last, and contained the lowest score in the A Series (and the lowest score so far in the show). The episode was preceded by "Antidotes & Answers" and followed by "Albania".


Numbers in brackets mark appearances - e.g. "(2)" means "(second appearance)".

  1. Jackie Clune (1): 5 points
  2. Alan Davies (7): 0 points
  3. Jimmy Carr (1): -1 point
  4. Jo Brand (3): -38 points


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  • Australia was discovered by the Chinese.[1] When Cook arrived in 1770, he wasn't a captain, he was Lieutenant Cook. He wasn't the first European, as the Dutch had reached it 150 years earlier; he wasn't even the first Englishman, that was William Dampier in 1688.
  • The term Aborigines comes from the Latin meaning "from the origin" and was first used to describe the pre-Roman people. For some unknown reason, the term "Aborigine" has stuck with the Aboriginal Australians, but there are Aboriginal Canadians and you could even call the Native Americans "Aborigines".
  • The word Kangaroo means horse[2] in the Baagandji language of New South Wales. When Cook's expedition arrived in 1770, the Aboriginal settlers there saw a horse, which they believed was what the English called a kangaroo. There is a story that when the first English settlers arrived, they pointed to a kangaroo and asked "What's that?" The reply was "kanagaroo" (sic), which means "I don't know". That comes from the Guugu Yimithirr language, spoken around Botany Bay and was first heard on Cook's expedition in 1770.
  • Homo sapiens evolved from[3] a common ancestor that hasn't yet been discovered, otherwise known as the "missing link". Before that, they evolved from squirrel-like tree shrews, before that hedgehogs and before that starfish. Apes also evolved from this same ancestor.
  • Tanzania's Hehe tribe got their name, because it was their war cry. They were also the best tribe to resist colonisation from the Germans.
  • In Swaziland, there is only one museum and it is bad manners to shield your eyes with one hand and it's forbidden to point at the king's hut. National service consists of weeding the king's millet fields for 2 weeks of the year. The penalty for not showing up is a fine of one cow.
  • The Speaker of the Swazi Parliament was sacked in June 2000, after he stole a cowpat belonging to the king, Mswati III. He took the item from the Royal Kraal, to make a magic spell to aid the people and the king personally, so he claimed in his defence. The King of Swaziland rules jointly with his mother, the Great She-Elephant and he must be greeted with rapturous admiration whenever he appears.
  • Henry VIII wiped his bottom using the hand of the Groom of the Stool. The job was sought after by just about everyone in the Court, mainly for the amount of time spent with the King. Another slightly cushier job was warming his shirt in the morning.
  • Arthropods means a creature with jointed legs. There are over 1,000,000 species of arthropod including butterflies, lobsters, woodlice, cicadas, bees, cockroaches, spiders, scorpions, prawns, praying mantises, crabs, beetles, centipedes, millipedes, crayfish, mayflies, mites, ticks, fleas, earwigs and ants.
  • The male European earwig has a spare penis. It was discovered by scientists in Tokyo who were looking at two earwigs copulating and they noticed that the male's penis was left in the female, but they then saw the male grow an instant replacement. The male's penis is longer than its body.
  • The name given to insects with piercing and sucking mouth parts is a bug.
  • The highest number of legs seen on a millipede is 710[4] on the South African millipede.

General IgnoranceEdit

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  • The colour of water is blue.[5]
  • More people have been killed by ducks than by atomic bombs, as they were responsible for the 1918 outbreak of the Spanish flu.
  • No animals[6] bury their head in the sand. If ostriches buried their heads in the sand, they would suffocate like anyone else. This myth was created by Pliny the Elder.
  • Rubber boots were invented by Amazonian Indians,[7] who stand knee-deep in liquid latex until it dries up.


  1. James Cook
  2. I don't know
  3. Apes
  4. 1000
  5. Colourless
  6. Ostrich
  7. The Duke of Wellington
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