There are plenty of clues hidden in every corner of the world that teach us about a time long before we were even around. Dinosaur bones are buried underground, fossils hide in stone, and the ruins of ancient cities, it seems, are excavated just about every year.
And in some of the world’s coldest places, scientists are uncovering a number of mind-boggling discoveries in ice. Preserved in freezing temperatures, these finds were in nearly the same condition as when they first went under — and scientists are only just now coming to understand their incredible histories.
1. Iron water: Don’t worry, it’s not what you think! While it may look like something horrific happened in the aptly named area of “Blood Falls,” this is actually just frozen iron-rich water. But where it comes from? Nobody knows…
2. Mammoth Brains: Quite a number of mammoth remains have been found over the years, but only one with its brain still intact. Deep inside the permafrost off the Siberian coast was this young yet 39,000-year-old woolly mammoth. What a discovery!
3. Forests: Even though moving glaciers tend to crush anything in their paths, the dirt and debris they drag along with them can act as a protective barrier for forests underneath. So, when a glacier continues on, it can reveal a forest in perfect condition.
4. Dinosaurs: The 110 million-year-old Nodosaur was one of the last surviving dinos, as its tough skin and spiked back protected it from predators. It lived in the Cretaceous period, the last stretch of the Mesozoic era, and remained perfectly preserved in ice.
5. Volcano: It may sound like an oxymoron, but even volcanoes can freeze over (hell hasn’t yet, though). Inactive volcanoes remain at high altitudes, and the rapid change from hot to cool can create some pretty interesting sights.
6. Message In A Bottle: In 1959, a geologist named Paul T. Walker hid this bottle in a glacier with instructions to measure the distance it traveled over time. When it was uncovered, it’d moved so much that scientists realized the severity of climate change.
7. Airplanes: In 1952, this military plane was headed for Alaska but crashed into a nearby glacier, killing all 52 people on board. Sadly, their remains couldn’t be salvaged until 50 years later when the ice had melted.
8. Viking Skis: Historians believe skiing was invented in Scandinavia, and finding 1,300-year-old skis beneath the ice supports that theory. This is one of only two pairs of ancient skis found with bindings still attached, so it’s a pretty big deal.
9. Live Gator: Don’t worry, this alligator is actually still alive! Certain animal species can survive in ice for a while due to their slow heart rates. Alligators have survived blizzards, and those that do usually stick their snouts above the freezing water.
10. Eerie Photographs: When Earnest Shackleton, a late 19th-century and early 20th-century explorer, crashed his ship during his final expedition, he lost a lock box. When it was found in 2013, it revealed weird photos of the crew, the mission, and Shackleton.
11. Thousands Of Spears: Since our ancestors survived by throwing spears at large animals, it’s no surprise there are plenty of weapons to be found. However, the head being made of barbed copper shows how tactical our predecessors were.
12. A Giant Mountain: At first glance, it may seem like Antarctica is naturally flat, but in reality, it’s many mountains are often covered by layers upon layers of ice sheets. One range, called Gamburtsev, sprawls across 750 miles and peaks at 10,00o feet.
13. Virus: Trapped underneath the ice are many types of viruses for which we do not have vaccines or even a natural tolerance. The next plague might just be melting right now…
14. Otzi The Iceman: One of the most famous and well-preserved people ever found in ice, he (recreated below) died 5,300 years ago in the Alps and was actually an ancestor to thousands of Austrians. Unfortunately, he was likely murdered. Rest in peace, Otzi.
15. Sabretooth tiger: Deep in the heart of Siberia lies many ice-preserved animals, including the prehistoric sabretooth tiger, or cave lion. Unfortunately, the species went extinct 10,000 years ago.
16. Live Woman: After a skiing accident, Anna Bagenholm ended up submerged in freezing ice water for 80 minutes. When rescuers pulled her out, her internal body temp had reached 56.7°F. Miraculously, she lived.
17. A Fox: A modern fox got trapped in a block of ice and remained there until he was discovered and eventually used as an appendage for a German hotel. Perhaps it’s a warning to be extra careful in the winter…
18. Hungry Birds: Imagine how cold the water must be to instantly freeze over a group of birds that went for a quick dive to catch some fish. Were the kingfishers found in Siberia? No, Germany!
19. Cannibalism: Scientists uncovered a basketball-sized ice cube containing two fish — one in the midst of eating the other. Obviously, it didn’t end well for either one of them, but it’s cool to take a closer look at this fish-eat-fish world.
20. Incan Woman: The Incas tended to be pretty ruthless when it came to human sacrifices, but who knew that they would send a woman with tuberculosis to climb a volcano? This guy found her body perfectly preserved in ice; apparently, she never made the leap!
And in more tropical climates, scientists aren’t coming up empty-handed. On the Dutch island of Terschelling, citizens were startled early one morning when they discovered thousands of running shoes covering the sand.
2. Piano: One afternoon, underneath the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, someone came across a piano. Although the body was perfectly intact, it no longer played. No one ever found out who it belonged to.
3. Rubber ducks: Back in 1992, a massive shipping crate full of hundreds of thousands of rubber ducks fell overboard in the middle of the ocean, and still to this day, massive amounts of these bath-time toys still occasionally wash up on the shores of various countries.
4. Giant LEGOs: Not much is known about the Dutch painter and sculptor who calls himself Ego Leonard other than he works with large-scale fiberglass LEGO art. These oversized toys occasionally find themselves on shores all over the world.
5. Perfectly formed snowballs: A Siberian beach was found blanketed in perfectly formed snowballs in 2016. This was due to an extremely rare phenomena causing pieces of ice to roll up and then become smoothly polished by the elements. Did someone say epic snowball fight?
6. Giant eyeball: In 2012, someone came across a giant eyeball while walking along the shore in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. People naturally wanted to believe it came from some kind of undiscovered sea monster, but scientists determined it belonged to a massive swordfish.
7. E.T.: One afternoon, a person thought they saw a lifeless body floating in the shallow ocean water. Upon further inspection, it was actually a life-sized doll of E.T.! Talk about discovering something alien!
8. Bananas: In 2007, six enormous crates of bananas fell overboard from a ship traveling to Cuba. Almost all of them somehow made the long journey to the shores of Terschelling in the Netherlands. Yep, that’s right. The same place that was the recipient of those thousands of pairs of running shoes. Weird…
9. Inscribed rocks: While people were taking a stroll along a beach in Oakville, Ontario, they came across a stack of rocks with inspirational and personal messages inscribed on them. Did whoever wrote them ever find their soulmate?
10. Mechanical hand: Someone dropped a mechanical prosthetic hand into the water near Staten Island, New York, and it quickly washed ashore. Who did it belong to? Apparently, one very clumsy robot.
11. SpaceX debris: On the beach of Elbow Bay in the Bahamas, people were in shock when they found massive chunks of metal lying in the shallow waters. Where did they come from? They were pieces of one of SpaceX Falcon 9’s crashed rockets.
12. Intact shipwreck: This ship, called Navagio, is a tourist attraction in Greece. It was built in 1937 and was used to smuggle cigarettes. After it was destroyed in a massive storm while trying to flee the Greek Navy in the 1980s, it eventually washed ashore on a beach in Navagio Bay.
13. Strange gelatinous blobs: Throughout 2015, about a billion of these weird gelatinous blobs of jelly called velella washed up on west coast shores of the United States. As dramatic and bizarre looking as the incident was, marine biologists actually said it happens roughly once every three to six years.
14. Doritos: On the beaches of North Carolina one morning, a massive shipping container full of Doritos washed ashore. Thousands of bags of the popular snack were strewn all over the sand, much to the delight of the hungry beachgoers.
15. Flyswatters: In 2012, off the coast of Alaska, a cargo ship lost several crates of flyswatter with college sports teams’ insignia printed on them. Insects beware, Notre Dame is coming for you…
16. Harley-Davidson motorcycle: After a devastating tsunami hit Japan in 2011, one man’s Harley-Davidson motorcycle was swept out to sea. Incredibly, it was found 5,000 miles away on a beach in British Columbia!
17. Dead birds: Roughly 6,000 deceased waterfowl washed up on the shores of Georgian Bay in Ontario, Canada. Scientists believed they all consumed botulism-laced fish, and although die-offs of large numbers of birds isn’t extremely unusual, the number of waterfowl had scientists quite startled.
18. Drugs: In 2013, off the coast of Japan, someone found six backpacks stuffed with packages of cocaine. The total weight of the narcotics was 78 kilograms, and police estimated the find to be worth $70 million!
19. Sea mine: When one family came upon this mystery object at the beach, they initially thought it was some kind of buoy that made its way onto the land. In reality, however, it was actually a World War II-era mine!
20. Giant pipes: Early one morning in August 2017, beach walkers in Norfolk, England, were greeted with massive sections of metal pipes. Some of them were as long as 1,500 feet and eight feet in diameter! They had reportedly broken off a Norwegian tug boat after it collided with an Icelandic container ship on its way to Algeria.
Finding random objects washed up on our favorite beaches can be exciting, but there are still plenty of things in the ocean that never make it to the shore. Some of them had absolutely no business being at the bottom of the ocean…
1. F4U Corsair: This sunken aircraft has been deep underwater since it crashed during World War II. Amazingly, the water hadn’t eroded too much of the material. You can almost picture those propellers spinning while it soars through the sky.
2. The Antikythera Mechanism: Discovered in the early 20th century, this sunken ancient computer from 205 BCE was used to track the movement of the stars and the moon in relation to the Earth.
3. The Ghost Fleet: These remains mark the watery graves of soldiers who lost their lives during a sea battle in this lagoon during World War II. Imagine suddenly coming across this during a routine scuba dive!
4. Sculpture Park: Can you believe this site in Cancun, Mexico, is a museum? For a small fee (and a large oxygen tank) visitors can deep-dive to see these amazing underwater sculptures. It’s like a whole civilization underwater.
5. MS Zenobia: A 10,000-ton ferry tragically sunk to the bottom of Cyprus’ Lanarca Bay in the 1980s. The ferry and all its contents are there still. If you take a scuba trip there, plan on meeting some of the new aquatic inhabitants.
6. The Underwater River: Otherwise known as “Cenote Angelita Cave,” this is a very rare optical illusion experienced by divers. It happens when hydrogen sulfide mixes with the water.
7. USS Oriskany: This ship served in both the Korean war AND World War II. When it finally sunk it became the world’s largest artificial coral reef. It’s so cool that the reef was able to make its way on the ship and become its own ecosystem.
8. The Train Graveyard: This makeshift train graveyard is located just off the coast of New Jersey. The cars date back as far as the 1850s, and all of the rusted trains give the whole area a very ghostly and eerie feel.
9. Yonaguni Monument: Located off the coast of Japan, this mysterious monument is possibly over 5,000 years old. No one is quite sure of its origins, but it’s believed that it was a coastal temple that sank into the ocean as a result of an earthquake.
10. SS President Coolidge: This ship was sunk, but its fortune remains intact at the bottom of the sea. Would you be brave enough to take a journey down below and gather up some of its contents?
11. The RMS Titanic: We all know about the sinking of the Titanic, but not everyone knows that its watery grave is just off the coast of Newfoundland. There have been countless explorations of arguably the most famous ship-sinking of all time.
12. This “Ancient” Chinese City: This may look like an ancient underwater city, but what you’re seeing is actually a deliberately made underwater attraction just off the coast of Japan. Anyone who can scuba dive is welcome to enjoy.
13. SS Thistlegorm: This British vessel was strangely found in the Red Sea. It contains trucks and war munitions, and it’s also a well-known site for experienced scuba divers. Watch out for sharks though!
14. Manganese Balls: These naturally occurring balls form in the ocean and can be anywhere from the size of a dime to the size of a big melon. They’re most commonly found in the Pacific Ocean but have been spotted elsewhere as well.
15. Irish Silver: Researchers discovered this World War II-era haul in the body of a British ship. They discovered more than 60 tons of silver in its hull. This is one payday that’ll surely never be forgotten.
16. The Lost City of Heracleion: People searched for this ancient sunken Egyptian city for decades, before it was finally rediscovered. Imagine suddenly coming across that massive stone sculpture in the darkness?
17. Apollo 11 Rockets: These were thought to be lost forever. However, using technology created by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the rockets that carried Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins to the moon were discovered.
18. Sweepstakes: This Canadian ship sunk to just below the surface in 1885 and has stayed there ever since. It has become a very popular tourist attraction. As you can see, it’s not even that far offshore so you could go for a leisurely swim and explore it.
19. Blackbeard’s Cannons: The infamous pirate sunk the Queen Anne’s Revenge off the coast of North Carolina and along with it went these historical cannons. They may be out of commission now, but they certainly did damage during their heyday.
20. Ancient Mediterranean Shipwreck: Explorers found this Phoenician wreck off the coast of Malta. It was filled with ancient artifacts, such as pottery, tools, and coins. Scuba divers from all around wanted to get their hands on the once-in-a-lifetime find.