Grab your magnifying glass and make your best Sherlock Holmes impression as we dive into eighty of the world’s greatest unsolved historical mysteries!
The Final Call of Brandon Swanson
After driving his car into a ditch on a clear spring night in 2008, nineteen-year-old Brandon Swanson phoned his parents for assistance. Brandon, who stated he was uninjured, started walking after his parents had difficulty locating him.
The parents would stay on the phone with their son for almost an hour before he yelled an expletive and his phone went dead. Cellphone records would later indicate that Brandon was twenty miles in the opposite direction of where he told his parents he was. Brandon’s car would later be found, but the young man would never be heard from again.
The Lost City of Atlantis
A single story by the acclaimed Greek philosopher Plato spurred a mystery almost two millennia old. The City of Atlantis, as recounted by Plato, was an island of tremendous technology and wealth. The Atlanteans were a civilization of warrior people and supposedly brought to heel most of Europe and Africa.
In an act of defiance, the Greeks struck back, and the fabled city sank beneath the Atlantic Ocean. Thought to be pure literary fantasy, most marine archaeologists dismiss the legend, whereas others believe Plato accurately described an ancient civilization decimated by a tsunami, potentially.
The Baghdad Batteries
While intensely debated (and sometimes outright contested), historians believe that a contraption found in modern-day Iraq is the earliest form of electricity.
Here is a phrase we bet you have not heard until today: galvanic cell. A galvanic cell is a simple method of producing a negligible electrical current. The “Baghdad batteries” are made from a ceramic pot, a strip of iron, and a copper tube. Corrosion on the metal items has shown to be caused by an acidic liquid such as vinegar or wine – the same solution that can be used to help generate an electric current – just like a Galvanic cell!
The Bermuda Triangle
The Bermuda Triangle, more sinisterly known as The Devil’s Triangle, is not strictly a triangle but a patch of the Atlantic Ocean generally understood to reach from Bermuda to Florida and encompass The Bahamas. The “triangle” is notorious for unexplained disappearances of aircraft and marine vessels.
Although much sea, and later air, traffic has traversed the area over the last few centuries, it was only in the middle of the 20th century that reports of inexplicable disappearances arose. Theories range from the supernatural to magnetic forces causing navigation instruments to malfunction, leading ships and aircraft to their inexplicable end.
The Big Grey Man of Scotland
Almost every land has its version of the Sasquatch or Yeti. The Big Grey Man is described as an enormous humanoid that prowls the highlands of Scotland.
Eyewitness accounts claim that he stands at over ten feet in height and has exceedingly long arms. Another curious characteristic is that every eyewitness claims that when "The Big Grey Man" walks, the distinct sound of crushing gravel is heard even though he is seen walking on grass. Skeptics assert that there’s a collective mental delusion of exhausted hikers fueled by preconceptions of "The Big Grey Man" existing.
The Piri Reis Map
A chance find turned out to be one of the true enigmas of the 20th Century. Piri Reis, a commander of the Ottoman fleet, put together a map that has confounded historians for decades.
Clearly outlined on the map is the coastline of Antarctica, which was previously thought to have been undiscovered at the time. No mention of the icy continent was made in any history books, and the first writing of it was by British captain James Cook – a full 300 years after the Piri Reis map was drawn. The map is housed at the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul today.
The Tragic Case of Walter Collins
One of the most stupefying mysteries of the 20th century is the disappearance of nine-year-old Walter Collins who went missing from his mother’s home in 1928. After a frantic search, the Los Angeles Police Department notified his mother, Christine Collins, that Walter was found and reunited the pair.
Her euphoria soon turned to despair as she realized it was not Walter the police had found. The police became incensed at her insistence that it was not Walter, and charges of neglect were laid against her. Tragically, Christine was committed to a mental institution, all the while insisting her son was still missing.
Police in Adelaide, Australia, responded to reports of a body on the beach found by passersby. The man had no identity documents but hauntingly had a page stuffed into his pocket with the words “tamam shud.” Investigations revealed this was from the book “Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám.”
Detectives managed to locate the specific book from which the page was torn. The book contained a cryptic, handwritten message, which cryptologists still have not deciphered. The inquest concluded the most likely cause of death was poisoning. The identity of the man was not, and probably will never be, solved.
D.B. Cooper Flies the Coop
On an autumn day in 1971, a person who identified as Daniel Cooper boarded a flight from Portland to Seattle. The peculiar passenger handed a stewardess a note grimly stating that there was a bomb in his hand luggage soon after takeoff. He instructed the cabin crew to inform authorities that he sought $200,000 in ransom money upon landing in Seattle.
Soon after landing, the ransom was paid, and Cooper instructed the pilots to charter a course to Mexico City. Halfway to the new destination, the man donned a parachute, leaped from the rear door, and was never seen again.
The Vanishing of the Sodder Children
It was just an ordinary Christmas eve in 1945 when tragedy struck the Sodder family. A fire erupted in their household. Parents Jennie and George Sodder were able to evacuate four of their nine children, whereas the other five children could seemingly not escape.
George Sodder found his ladder missing, his cars unable to start, and operators not answering emergency calls. The house burnt to the ground and no evidence of mortal remains were found. Eerily, townsfolk reported seeing a group of children driven out of town that night. No official trace of the children has ever been found.
The “Voynich Manuscript” changed many hands over the centuries until coming to Wilfrid Voynich, a Polish rare books dealer. The manuscript is seemingly insensible, written in a completely unknown language and mysterious writing system. It illustrates plants and animals that do not exist, yet this goes on for two hundred and fifty pages.
Carbon dating revealed the book was written in the 15th Century. Attempts to decipher it prove fruitless time and time again. Some of the more unorthodox theories are that it’s of alien origin and describes extraterrestrial fauna and flora. Well, if you have an inkling to see it, it's under the care of Yale University.
The Shugborough Inscription
On the ground of Shugborough Hall in England stands a monument with a cryptic series of letters in a relief of the famous “The Shepherds of Arcadia” painting. The letters “O-U-O-S-V-A-V-V” lie between the letters “D” and “M,” which are noticeably off-center from the others.
Luminaries such as Charles Darwin and Charles Dickens were intrigued and tried to decode the puzzle. Holy Grail hunters believe it may be a clue to the whereabouts of the famed artifact, while others, contrarily, insist that the Knights Templar inscribed the message as a red herring!
Celtic Wood Mystery
An attack on German forces by an Australian regiment resulted in one of the most unaccountable stories from the first world war. During the Battle of Poelcapelle, the Australian Division's 10th Battalion was sent to attack the German line to deflect it from focusing on the advancing allies.
Only fourteen of the eighty-five soldiers that entered the warzone are reported to have returned. No trace of the remaining seventy-one was found. The story gets even stranger as the Germans logged no skirmish having taken place that day. The only person to know what happened are the soldiers who disappeared themselves.
Easter Island is famous for its collection of human heads carved out of stone. Expressionless, the heads seem to look out far beyond the ocean horizon in anticipation of something. The anthropomorphic rocks are an engineering feat for a tiny, island-dwelling population now long gone.
Weighing almost twenty tons, the transport and placement of the statues remain a mystery, as well as their purpose. Archaeologists made a startling discovery in the 2010s after uncovering that the heads were attached to bodies underground. The seafaring people left no clues, and historians continue to try and decipher the ancient puzzle.
The Missing Colonists of Roanoke Island
An entire English colony appeared to have vanished into thin air off the coast of North America. The colony, spearheaded by explorer John White, saw its supplies dwindling due to the island's limited resources, so in 1587, White gathered a crew and set off to gather supplies.
Fearing commandeering of the colony, White ordered that a cross be carved into a specific tree to notify of an attack having taken place. Upon returning three years later, the group found the colony dismantled, with no signs of struggle and no cross carving. The colonists, numbering in the dozens, were never sighted.
A group of Zimbabwean children had a very close encounter with the third kind at a school in 1994. The schoolchildren reported that several spaceships descended on a sports field on the school premises.
With no teachers present at the time, the children attested that extraterrestrials exited the craft and began to communicate telepathically with them. To add weight to this story, numerous sightings of strange craft and lights in the sky were reported across southern Africa. The children were independently interviewed, and all individual accounts were identical.
The Sleepy Kazakhs
A highly unsettling phenomenon struck the rural town of Kalachi in Kazakhstan in 2014; residents, numbering into the hundreds, would suddenly fall asleep and not wake for days. Upon waking, the suffering sleepers would be disoriented and have no memory of the event.
Panicked locals began moving out in droves as the sickness did not spare anyone – including children and, in one reported instance, a pet. Kazakh authorities stepped in and began evacuations themselves. At a loss, they simply concluded that carbon dioxide from abandoned uranium mines affected the villagers. Other experts remain unconvinced, and the mystery lingers.
Vitrum flexile sounds like a spell Harry Potter would be saying while casting his wand. Instead, translated from Latin, it means “flexible glass.” In the days of Tiberius’ reign, a craftsman revealed to Tiberius his genius invention: glass that does not shatter or crack.
In demonstrating, he proved that trying to break the glass only results in minor dents that could easily be knocked out with a hammer. Tiberius, fearing the new material would affect the price of silver and copper and cause a financial collapse, duly had the inventor executed, and the mystery of the flexible glass went with him.
Lemuria is the lesser-known of the classical sunken civilizations duo, with the other being the famous Atlantis. Lemuria takes its name from the lemur, the animal endemic to the island country of Madagascar.
In attempting to explain the presence of living lemurs on Madagascar, lemur fossils on the Indian subcontinent, and no lemurs on the African mainland, zoologist Philip Sclater hypothesized that a landmass once connected the countries but sank at some point. Occultists claim that Lemuria did indeed exist and was the birthplace of modern humankind. Evidence for the land remains scant, but the legend lives on.
Cuban Underwater Formation
In the early 2000s, sonar scans started feeding back some particular readings to researchers while surveying Cuba's coast. Upon investigating, the team discovered a collection of carved stone blocks lying 2,100 feet down. The blocks were not haphazard but stacked, showing almost undeniable signs of construction.
The researchers were flummoxed at the find because, if this was once a city, it means it would have sunk fifty thousand years ago – long before any architecture of such precision was known to exist. The excitement was short-lived as authorities quickly suppressed the discovery, and no further details have been released.
The Tunguska Event
If one hundred million trees are flattened in the forest with nobody around, does it make a sound? The philosophically famous question was put to the test in Siberia in 1908. Over two thousand square kilometers of forestland were flattened without a single bit of evidence as to how.
Scientists concluded it had to be due to a meteor and set out to locate the impact crater only not to find one. After decades of research, the latest findings suggest it was a “bouncing asteroid”: an asteroid that passed through the earth’s atmosphere, its shockwaves decimating the land below, however, the theory has not been confirmed.
Oak Island Cache
A rumor has persisted that Canada’s Oak Island, a stone’s throw off the Nova Scotian coast, has an underground chamber filled with looted treasures. The legend states that pirate William Kidd used it as a hiding place but met his fate long before being able to return to reclaim his booty.
Treasure hunters and thrill-seekers worldwide continue to pour onto Oak Island, all with a determination to dig up the cache. The lure of the treasure trove has even created a reality show.
Jimmy Hoffa’s Disappearing Act
A mystery that continues to intrigue cold case enthusiasts is the sudden disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa. Hoffa championed workers’ rights and quickly rose through the ranks to become the darling of blue-collar workers across the United States.
Hoffa's eminence did not come without its risks, though. To compete with rival union leaders, Hoffa enlisted the help of the Mafia. Pension funds were channeled to the Mafia in payment for their services, ultimately leading to Hoffa being convicted on numerous charges. Hoffa disappeared in July 1975 during a supposed “business meeting.” Sources indicate the Mafia assassinated Hoffa.
The Julia Wallace Cold Case
William Wallace, a salesman, was delivered a letter requesting a meeting at a peculiar address: Menlove Gardens East. Wallace said goodbye to his wife, Julia, and headed out. After searching for hours, Wallace realized that Menlove Gardens East was nonexistent.
Wallace returned home to find Julia was the victim of a tragic homicide. Wallace was ultimately convicted of the crime and then, upon appeal, had it overturned. Cold case workers suggest that Wallace had fingered a co-worker in an embezzlement scheme and the same co-worker sought an act of brutal revenge.
By today’s definitions, civilization has been declared to have originated in the Sumerian Valley some four thousand years ago with the advent of agriculture, advanced hand tools, and brick dwellings.
Well, the Turkish City of Göbekli Tepe turns this on its head. It is almost twelve thousand years old – beating Sumeria by almost eight thousand years. To compound the mystery, the only known inhabitants were hunter-gatherers, who were neither literate nor stonemasons. Göbekli Tepe boasts of having the oldest megaliths. Twenty acres in size, the ancient city, has only had 5% of its site excavated in the last sixty years.
Circular trenches numbering in the hundreds are scattered throughout the Amazon in Brazil and reaching Bolivia. The trenches are remarkable in that they are sixteen feet deep and sixteen feet wide, a feat that would require advanced machinery to accomplish, none of which is known to have existed in pre-colonial South America.
The purpose of the circles is unknown, and archaeologists have posited that, due to the agricultural prowess of the Aztecs, they may have been used for drainage. Conspiracy theorists believe that they were formed when alien spacecraft landed. Perhaps to bring supplies for Machu Picchu?
The Poisoning in the Pole
The South Pole may have its only case of murder. Rodney Marks, an Australian astrophysicist, had reported feeling unwell to the station’s doctor. Rodney would make three more trips to the doctor over 24 hours before collapsing and passing away.
An autopsy revealed that Rodney had suffered methanol poisoning. Curiously, most of the 49 staff at the base were reluctant to interview with New Zealand and American authorities. Authorities have ruled out that Rodney took his own life and how he came to ingest the methanol remains unsolved.
The Fresno Nightcrawler
The most curious of cryptids, the Fresno Nightcrawler, has only been seen three times but has spawned a streak of hoaxes. The Fresno Nightcrawler was first spotted in California by a retired marine in 2014 driving home one evening.
The ex-marine reported that the creature was roughly seven feet tall, had no arms, and was translucent. The second sighting was in Yosemite National Park, where the beings were reported to be less than a meter tall but having the same identifying traits: armless and translucent. Astonishingly, the being was last recorded in Poland. Eeek!
The Nazca Lines of Peru
The ancient Peruvians were undoubtedly perfectionists, as attested by the mystifying Nazca lines. Peruvians took cave paintings to the next level and created an entire landscape of geoglyphs representing fauna, flora, and humans.
The combined length of these geoglyphs is almost eight hundred miles long and covers an area of roughly twenty square miles. This artwork is so massive that it can only be seen from the air and was rediscovered by pilots flying over the plane. Why did the ancient Peruvians create a motif that is only visible from hundreds of feet up in the air? Scientists remain stumped.
The Disappearance of Frederick Valentich
Australian pilot Frederick Valentich went missing while flying on a Saturday evening in 1978. A short while before his disappearance, the twenty-year-old aviation enthusiast radioed into Melbourne Air Traffic Control to inform them that he was being followed by a strange aircraft overhead.
In the brief transmission, he described the aircraft as continuously approaching from several directions at high speed. The panicked pilot then reported he was experiencing engine trouble before the radio contact crackled out, and all communication was cut. A seven-month search effort offered no clues as to the whereabouts of the doomed pilot.
Cleopatra’s Grandiose Grave
According to classical historians such as Suetonius, Mark Anthony and Cleopatra were entombed together upon their deaths. The descriptions of the tomb were so awe-inspiring that archaeologists are baffled as to why it has not been located, even though they know it should be in the vicinity of Alexandria. Historians recorded that the majestic tomb was decorated with numerous precious gems and metals, including gold, emeralds, and ivory.
Archaeologists believe these may have been ransacked, and therefore it's harder to identify the final resting place by description alone. The hunt continues!
La Mancha Negra
Thick, viscous sludge inexplicably began seeping and oozing onto Venezuelan roads in the 1980s. La Mancha Negra, translated into English as “The Black Stain,” was first disregarded when roadworkers noticed the black blotch spread across about 150 feet of the road.
Alarm grew as the unnatural glob grew in size rapidly and soon covered eight miles of roadway. Terrifyingly, La Mancha Negra spread throughout the roadways of Venezuela and claimed almost two thousand lives due to causing road accidents. Millions of dollars of research into the sludge yielded no conclusions, and it was eventually stalled by millions of tons of limestone powder.
South Bay Bessie
According to local accounts, the Loch Ness Monster has a cousin living way across the pond in Lake Erie in America. South Bay Bessie, as the cryptid is affectionately named, was first sighted in 1793. The descriptions of Bessie differ from The Loch Ness Monster in that it is more of a snake than an aquatic dinosaur.
The length and diameter of Bessie from eyewitness accounts range from nine to thirteen meters. A reward of $5,000 was offered after the last sighting of Bessie in 1993. The reward remains unclaimed, and there has not been a sighting since.
Tucked away in the vast expanse of Siberia is a rock formation called the Patomskiy crater. The extraordinarily unusual features of the rock have created intense speculation as to what could have caused it. The crater itself is on top of a mass of limestone and within this crater is a smaller mound reaching forty feet high.
Curiously, trees around the rock grow exponentially faster, thicker, and taller than those in the surrounding forests. Scientists note the presence of radioactive material that could be causing this phenomenon. Some speculate it may be a piece of the Tunguska event asteroid.
The Flannan Isles Lightkeepers Go Dark
The Flannan Isles are a group of islands about fifty kilometers northwest of Scotland that was put on the map due to the inexplicable vanishing of three lighthouse keepers in December 1900.
The schedule required that three lighthouse keepers be manning the station full time while rotating a fourth keeper out. On this December day, the fourth lighthouse keeper made his way to relieve the other of his duty, whereupon he found the island empty. However, everything was in order, including all the beds being made, and no foul play was evident. The lighthouse keepers simply disappeared overnight.
The Oracle's Laptop
The Oracle of Delphi in ancient Greece was said to have the gift of prophecy. A frieze dating back to 100 B.C. depicts a servant holding open what appears to be none other than a laptop for a woman of notable stature who some amateur historians claim to be the Oracle herself.
What is curious is that the item does resemble a laptop rather than a chest or a book. Did the Oracle have a secret cheat and could check modern-day news sites? Historians, as expected, scoff at the idea and insist that it is most likely a mirror.
When did you last have your chakra checked? According to many ancient eastern traditions, chakras, or energy points, are clearly defined centers of energy that run from the pelvis to the top of the head.
In the corner of the courtyard of Wawel Castle in Poland, thousands of tourists and spiritualists press their palms against the wall in expectation of receiving spiritual power. The caretakers of Wawel Castle are reportedly fed up with the influx of new agers seeking spiritual satisfaction. The adherents of the tradition maintain that divine force channels into their bodies.
The Origin of the Flying Saucer
Have you ever wondered why UFOs have the nickname “flying saucers”? Why would an alien spacecraft be compared to a shallow bowl? The answer lies in an unanswered mystery.
While flying over the Cascade Mountains in Washington, Kenneth Arnold reported seeing nine airborne objects and described them as moving as “if you skipped a saucer across the water.” A few weeks after Kenneth’s sighting, the Air Force claimed it came across a “flying disc” wreck that had crashed in the desert. The exact nature of the aircraft was never determined, and Area 51 conspiracies abound!
Ball lightning is an electrical charge that can be as tiny as a berry but can extend multiple feet in diameter. Moving much slower than lightning through the atmosphere, the ball of lightning is said to explode, sometimes only a few feet from the ground.
Once it has discharged, a pungent smell of sulfur is left in its wake. Less than five percent of people have reported witnessing this phenomenon. It has been reported several times throughout recorded history by notable people. However, scientists are unable to reproduce an instance of it.
Skyquakes are to the atmosphere what earthquakes are to the earth, except in the instance of earthquakes, the origin and cause can be identified. Skyquakes are mentioned throughout history, and almost every geographic region from Australia to South America has a particular name for them.
Skyquakes occur in cloudless conditions, which rules out any link to thunder. A booming sound emanates from a clear blue sky, causing household objects to rattle. As recently as February 2021, residents in East Java reported a six-hour Skyquake. Theories range from covert military operations to massive gas pockets in the atmosphere.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The world's attention was gripped in early 2014 when an airplane with almost 250 passengers and crew seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth. Contact was lost with the airline, and it dropped off from all radar readings.
What further confounds the event is that close to $200,000,000 has been spent locating the doomed plane and has yielded no solid clues. Investigators have proposed a range of reasons, including the pilot having a death wish and even a meteor strike. Only twenty pieces of debris belonging to the aircraft have been found to date.
The Photobombing Astronaut
On a bright summer day in 1964, fireman Jim Templeton took his wife and young daughter for a photo shoot at a firth in northern England. Upon having his film developed, the developer mentioned that such beautiful photos were spoiled by “the man in the space suit.”
A perplexed Jim soon saw what the employee was referring to. Behind his wife and daughter, in multiple shots, was someone in a space suit. The individual was clearly invisible during the photo shoot and only appeared once the film was developed. The “Solway Spaceman” is a photographic enigma.
Pimlico Poisoning Mystery
A distraught Adelaide Bartlett faced the jury in 1886 to defend herself against charges of poisoning her husband, Thomas. Coroners had found that Thomas passed from ingesting chloroform, a highly toxic solvent.
What baffled the coroners was that chloroform, once ingested, would cause caustic burns to the surrounding windpipe and esophagus - none of which were present in Thomas’ case. The conclusion was that the chloroform was swallowed with another liquid: brandy. The inability to prove that Adelaide poured the solvent into her husband’s drink or that he did take his own life exonerated her but left many questions lingering.
Kentucky Meat Shower
Talk about a meat-eor shower? In 1876, lumps of red meat began raining down from the sky in the American state of Kentucky. The “shower” covered an area of one hundred yards and had multiple eyewitnesses.
The pieces were not very large, most measuring around two square centimeters. In the name of science, two brave men tasted the meat and claimed it to be lamb. However, when analyzed by scientists, the results were grim, with the conclusion it being either a horse lung or a very young human. The popular theory is that a flock of vultures regurgitated it!
The Holy Grail
Not even Monty Python could solve this head-scratcher! The “Holy Grail” is a piece of dinnerware of particular importance to the Crusaders and Knights of the Templar, as legend had it that it was the cup from which Jesus drank the night before his execution at the famed “Last Supper.”
The grail is reported to have supernatural power and can supposedly bestow eternal youth on any who drinks from it. While that may seem far-fetched, the collector value of the grail itself is of high regard, and while no archaeologists are looking for it, tireless treasure hunters certainly are!
On a winter night in 1966, four West Virginian teenagers claimed to have been pursued by a flying creature whose eyes glowed red, had a ginormous wing span, and could keep up with the speed of their car.
Authorities took the testimony of four teenagers in West Virginia so seriously that a press conference was called, and the “Mothman” epithet was used for the first time by the press. Several sightings of the winged beast have been reported, with the most unsettling alleging that the creature caused a bridge to collapse, leading to the deaths of some forty-six motorists.
The Copper Scroll of Qumran
Qumran has been an archaeologist’s utopia for decades. Not only is it the location where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, but also the infamous "copper scroll.” Seemingly out of place, this copper document details hidden treasure of nearly unthinkable riches.
Historians date the scroll as almost two thousand years old, meaning it was produced at the height of the Roman occupation. This leads history buffs to believe it may have been used to distract the Roman military from putting their efforts elsewhere. To date, not a single gold nugget has been located!
The Dyatlov Pass Incident
In the winter of 1959, Russian research scientists came across a group of hikers that seemed to have perished in the cold, arctic night. Upon inspection of the site, things became increasingly eerie as it appeared that something so sinister had caused the hikers to panic, cut through their tent, and run into the frigid below-zero night half-dressed.
The unlucky hikers were found splayed out across the area with very perplexing injuries. Some were stark naked with burned body parts, high-impact skull and chest damage, chunks of skin missing in the shape of a human bite mark, and some had missing eyes, eyebrows, and tounges. Outlandish theories postulated that it could have been a Yeti, Aliens, or radioactive weapons. More recently, however, scientists posit that a freak avalanche caused the panic that had the hikers fleeing their tents.
A name synonymous with ancient mysteries, Stonehenge has left historians and archaeologists dumbfounded for decades. The master masons of Stonehenge created a circular structure using stone blocks weighing up to twenty-five tons each.
The purpose of Stonehenge was definitely not for dwelling. Even more perplexing is that the stone blocks had to be transported twenty-five kilometers to the site. There is no evidence of machinery capable of this feat at the time. The riddle remains: who built Stonehenge, how did they build it, and why did they build it?
The Mary Celeste
A ship that kept all its secrets! Otherwise known as The Mary Celeste, the ship was an American merchant brigantine found floating adrift off the Portuguese islands of the Azores in 1872 by a crew of British sailors.
The sailors were baffled as all six months' worth of supplies remained on the ship, and the only thing missing was the lifeboat. Suspicions arose around the sailors possibly having harmed the passengers in order to claim a finder’s insurance. The investigations eventually cleared the seamen of any malfeasance, and the ship was sold. None of the Mary Celeste crew, including children, were ever located.
The Bodmin Boor Beast
Bodmin Moor in England is similar to any moor: shrouded in bone-chilling, paranormal legends. Of these is the Beast of Bodmin Moor. Big cat sightings arise every few years in England, and the Bodmin Moor beast is among the most sighted.
Reportedly four feet long and pitch black, the feline is blamed for several attacks on farm animals in the area. Astonishingly, a young hiker found a skull belonging to a leopard on a riverbank in Bodmin Moor. The British government launched an investigation and ruled out any possibility of a big cat being able to withstand the harsh English climate.
Star jelly is not something you would want to mix into your peanut butter sandwich. Biologists have documented star jelly, also known as astromyxin, for centuries. The gelatinous substance is translucent and milky white, and writings suggest that medieval physicians may have used it to treat abscesses.
Scientists are still unable to determine its nature and origin. Some suggest that it could be the oviducts of certain amphibians. The slime has been known to “fall from the sky.” In 1996, residents of Tasmania found the gummy sludge littering their lawns after a meteor streaked across the sky.
Conspiracy theorists all find agreement with this one. After decades of conspiratorial speculation, the United States government eventually confirmed the existence of Area 51: a military base that appears to be used for research, design, and testing of military aircraft and weaponry. No further details were divulged, though.
Due to this, conspiracy theorists have further postulated that extraterrestrial activity takes place in Area 51. Activity around Area 51 is so secretive that anyone entering or exiting does so in complete stealth and is often denied knowledge of how to get there.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Art Caper
This unsolved mystery is the stuff movies are made of! A relatively new guard at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Art Museum was alerted to a fire alarm. When he ascertained there was no fire, he returned to his station only to be greeted by two police officers who claimed they were dispatched for a disturbance.
The officers then accused the bewildered guard of having a warrant and placed him in handcuffs. The “police officers” then informed the guard this was a heist, and he offered no resistance. Thirteen classic artworks totaling half a billion dollars were stolen and remain missing to this day.
Standing almost ten thousand feet at the top of a mountain in Peru, Machu Picchu has claimed its place in the annals of archaeology as one of the most awe-inspiring cities in the world. At heights almost impossible to carry quarried stone to, the city spans over 80,000 square acres and is built entirely using the dry-stone method – that is, no mortar is used.
Instead, the rocks are fitted together in the same fashion as the pyramids of Egypt. Archaeologists are stumped as to how the stones were hauled and put into place, let alone what the original use of the citadel was.
The Baalbek Stones
Romans honored their gods in the most spectacular ways, and the stones of Baalbek attest to this. While it is agreed upon that Romans were the stonemasons here, the mystery lies in how they were able to carve, let alone carry, the most giant quarried rocks in history.
The largest of the three has been nicknamed “The Forgotten Stone.” Weighing almost two thousand tons, engineers and archaeologists are confused about how the ancient Romans fashioned a rock so precisely. The stones were not used in constructing the temple and were mainly laid out of sight for millennia until their discovery.
A mid-Atlantic boat chase in 1910 led to the arrest of Doctor Hawley Crippen and his young mistress, Ethel Le Neve. Dr. Crippen was apprehended for the murder of his wife, Cora after her body was presumably found in the cellar of their English home.
Dr. Crippen upheld his innocence, but detectives presented a case to the courts that led to the conviction and execution of Dr. Crippen. The forensic evidence would be tested a century later with modern-day technology, only to reveal that the body in the cellar was not that of a woman, let alone Mrs. Crippen.
The Footprints of the Devil
Rural England in 1855 was replete with mythical and psychospiritual legends. When denizens of South Devon awoke after a heavy snowfall one evening, they were greeted with large, distinct footprints traversing the snowy plains for almost one hundred miles.
The most perplexing thing about these footprints was that they resembled a cloven hoof and seemed to walk in a straight line right over houses, with the prints on rooftops and walls. Religious fervor gripped the countryside, and townsfolk immediately attributed it to being “the devil’s footprints.” Studies have tried to link the phenomenon to badgers, mice, and even a balloon with a horseshoe!
The Empress of Floreana
Eloise Wehrborn de Wagner-Bosquet had a name befitting her other title: The Baroness of the Galapagos. Floreana, a small island off Ecuador, saw a curious colonization by Germans in the early 20th century, looking to escape society.
Eloise had a reputation as the most flamboyant member of the island, even having two husbands. The islanders noticed that Eloise and one of her husbands were missing on a March day in 1934. Oddly, her other husband soon departed the island with a Norwegian fisherman. The withered remains of Eloise and her husband were found on a barren island a few months later.
Will the Real King Arthur Please Stand Up
Western storytelling is replete with tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The longevity of these tales has led people to assume that King Arthur was a well-known figure of the medieval ages. However, no evidence has surfaced that King Arthur was anything more than a fictional character or a glorified local chieftain.
Historians and archaeologists have attempted to put the puzzle together but have come up empty-handed. Numerous investigations at the small coastal village purported to be King Arthur’s birthplace have provided scant evidence that such a person ever even existed.
The Iron Man Pillar
Sticking out like a sore thumb in the middle of a German forest is a sizeable iron pillar named Der Eisener Mann, or The Iron Man (nope, not the "Avenger") translated into English. The pillar measures 2.2 meters in length, although a full meter is below ground.
Impeccably cast using pig iron, the imposing object shows no sign of rusting. The Iron Man is considered an “out-of-place artifact,” meaning it does not bear any resemblance to Germanic ironworking or markers anywhere else. Curiously too, it seems that the pillar was moved from another location. The original intention of The Iron Man remains unknown.
Espionage reached a whole new level during the cold war in Cuba in 2016. Over the course of two years, American CIA agents and diplomats reported vertigo, spontaneous nosebleeds, and splitting headaches. Each person initially reported hearing a high-pitched frequency, some even describing it as marbles rolling inside their head.
Intelligence investigations proved futile. One theory posits that eavesdropping devices placed in close proximity may have caused enough interference to create the sound. In an undeclared retaliation, America expelled Cuban diplomats from their Washington offices. Unexpectedly, American diplomats in China began reporting the same issue in 2018! No cause has yet been found.
The Antikythera Mechanism
Try and say that as fast as you can ten times! The “Antikythera Mechanism” is ahead of its time. Credited as the first analog computer, the mechanism was so precise it could work out the positions of astral bodies decades ahead of time.
In 1900, Greek sponge divers came across a shipwreck that housed a wealth of treasures. The Antikythera mechanism, hidden in a small wooden box, was initially overlooked until scientists realized they were holding an ancient, handheld computer. Its origin remains a mystery, and the technical genius behind it remains unknown.
Flight 19’s Final Flight
Five US Navy warplanes vanished without a trace on a clear, sunny day while completing a training flight close to the Florida coast in 1945. Fourteen pilots and co-pilots vanished from all radar and radio communication. No other craft was on the radar at the time, ruling out an enemy attack.
Horrifyingly, a Navy seaplane was sent to search for wreckage, which also vanished, taking all thirteen lives with it. No wreckage or bodies were ever located. Bermuda Triangle enthusiasts use this as evidence of the murderous maritime triangle of the Atlantic.
The Circleville Letters
Jealousy and vengeance combined to terrorize residents of Circleville, Ohio in the 1970s and 1980s. Highly accusatory and defamatory letters began arriving to the townsfolk from Columbus, Ohio, accusing the Circleville school superintendent of engaging in an affair with a local school bus driver, Mary Gillespie.
Mary’s husband, Ron Gillespie, was even killed in a car accident after one of the letters threatened his life should he not “put an end to the affair.” Ron’s brother-in-law, Paul Freshour, was tried and found guilty of writing the letters, but the letters continued arriving, with Paul himself even receiving one while in prison.
The Grassman of Ohio
The Grassman is peculiar in Bigfoot lore in that it is the only report of sighting more than one Sasquatch and is very aggressive. The first encounter with The Grassman was in rural Ohio when children of the Clayton family stumbled upon it sifting through a trash pit.
The mysterious biped would make regular excursions around the Claytons’ property but always evade capture. Upon further research, it was discovered that the Native American inhabitants of the region used to leave food out for the creatures. The Grassman has not been seen since.
The Crystal Skulls
Hoax or holy? An old-world fever gripped the new world when explorers began bringing back tales and treasures from ancient lands in the late 1800s. One of the most famous (or infamous to some) instances of this was the finding of “The Crystal Skulls.”
Hand-carved from white quartz, the explorers claimed these skulls predated Columbian culture. Collectors claim that the skulls possess preternatural powers, can enhance psychic and telepathic abilities, and cause miraculous healing. Experts insist that the skulls were a German hoax, created to capitalize on the old-world fascination of the time. The jury remains out!
The Overtoun Bridge
Dog lovers in Scotland best keep their pooches on a tight leash on this walk. The Overtoun Bridge has the ghastly reputation of causing dogs to suddenly become agitated and leap from it, only to be met with rocks fifty feet below.
Some reports claim that at least six hundred dogs have fallen under this spell, and at least fifty dogs have met a worse fate. Local rangers, hunters, and conservationists have attempted to piece together the most plausible explanation for this, but none can reach a conclusion. Whatever the cause, keep your mutts away from Overtoun Bridge.
The Phenomenal Phoenix Lights
Area 51 might make a lot more sense now. On a balmy winter night in Phoenix, Arizona, over seven hundred people witnessed five blazing orbs in a V formation a few hundred feet overhead.
These lights stayed in formation as they hovered over the Phoenix skyline. A fair number of witnesses asserted that the lights were attached to a spacecraft that emitted no noise. Most astoundingly, air traffic controllers witnessed the lights, but no objects appeared on their radars! By the end of the evening, a total of nine lights were hovering over Phoenix before vanishing from sight.
Mysterious Oxfordshire Sheep Panic of 1888
Across the fields of southern England, on a winter’s night in 1888, tens of thousands of sheep were suddenly spooked at the same time. Farmers were shocked to see streamed sheep stamping and scattering out of their paddocks into the winter night.
Farmers throughout southern England worked tirelessly through the evening and the next day to try and herd the flocks back to safety. It was revealed that the mass panic spread over an area of over five hundred kilometers, with some sheep found miles away from their properties, seeking refuge under hedges and hiding out of sight.
The Ark of the Covenant
Following the tradition of the Holy Grail, the Ark of the Covenant has had numerous treasure hunters, mystics, and even Indiana Jones himself looking for it.
The Ark, reputed to house the original ten commandments, was pillaged along with numerous artifacts after the Babylonians vanquished Jerusalem. It may have taken an unlikely course and landed up in Ethiopia or Southern Africa. The Lemba people of Southern Africa claim it is secreted deep within a cavernous mountain system. In contrast, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church claims to be in possession of it but disallows public viewing or interaction.
The Birthday Effect
Hold off on blowing out the candles for this one. The Birthday Effect is a phenomenon whereby people are known to shuffle off the mortal coil on or within a few days of their birthday. A study of almost three million Californians between 1969 and 1990 found a correlation between someone’s birthday and meeting their maker.
The study found that men succumbed in the week of their birthday, and women succumbed in the week following their birthday. Experts believe that psychosomatic forces might be at play, but the range of factors involved might make it far more complex to solve.
Eureka! Nobody escaped high school science and physics classes without repeating the name Archimedes. Renowned for his engineering skills, this Grecian polymath might have singly saved the Greek empire using sunlight. Fueled by patriotic will and mad genius, Archimedes resolved to stave off the advancing Roman military that had laid siege to his homeland by inventing the “death ray.”
It is purported that Archimedes and his compatriots used a series of carefully placed mirrors that could concentrate sunlight into single beams, aim it at Roman ships and cause them to catch alight. Recreating this in the modern age has proved to have mixed results.
The Wicked Watcher
The Broaddus family of New Jersey had packed their final boxes and were ready to move into their new home. Just before they moved in, a letter arrived. In almost comically bad handwriting, it began with welcoming the family to the neighborhood but then read, “My grandfather watched the house in the 1920s, and my father watched in the 1960s. It is now my time. Why are you here? I will find out.”
Each new letter grew increasingly sinister, including asking which rooms the children would be sleeping in. The Broadduses wisely did not move in and sold the property six months later.
The San Pedro Mountains Mummy
One would think that one of the last places to stumble across a fully preserved human mummy would be in Wyoming. In this instance, one would be wrong. In their search for gold, two prospectors came across a small cavern. Fortunately, the contents inside suffered no damage from their dynamite.
Inside was a tiny mummy. The mummy's facial features looked distinctly adult, even though the body was much smaller. Cryptozoologists maintain that the mummified individual is evidence of the “little people” of Native American folklore. X-rays lead researchers to believe that it was an infant who died from anencephaly.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The historical accounts of “The Hanging Gardens of Babylon” are so numerous that it has been a mystery why the ruins have not been found. According to legend, the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar constructed the sweeping garden terraces in what is now modern-day Iraq for his Median wife, who longed to see the lush, green valleys of her homeland.
Curiously, only one Babylonian priest recorded the existence of the gardens, and all other accounts come from the Hellenic world. Historians believe that creative license could have been at play, or the gardens are referring to a completely different city and kingdom.
This mystery is the opposite of a disappearance. The Leatherman, as New York and Connecticut natives, came to nickname him, was a vagabond of possibly French-Canadian origin.
A hermit, The Leatherman would only venture into society to stock up on food. Although he traversed the same route for almost forty years, he offered no explanation as to who he was, where he was from, or how he made money to buy his supplies. Even more puzzling, he communicated primarily in grunts and hand gestures. Dead men tell no tales, and The Leatherman kept his secrets after passing from cancer in 1889.
By the age of thirty-nine, Amelia Earhart had gained worldwide celebrity as the first woman to make solo flying trips. Amelia set out to circumnavigate the globe with her trusted navigator, Fred Noonan.
The pair had a successful takeoff from their station in Papua New Guinea and headed towards their Howland Island, a small island in the Pacific. Amelia radioed the US Coast Guard to alert them of her approach. At the last contact, Amelia notified the coast guard that she could not find the island, and contact was lost, along with all traces of Amelia and Fred.
The Hollinwell Incident
On a warm day in July of 1980, around 500 children arrived at the small town of Kirkby-in-Ashfield in England to partake in a marching band parade and competition. While the procession was underway, children began collapsing. In no time, children all around were fainting and wailing.
The horrifying symptoms spread across the surrounding crowd, with spectators succumbing to the same ailments. An intense medical examination could not pinpoint the cause of the sickness. Investigators have suggested that a banned pesticide may have been responsible. English authorities insist that it was a case of mass hysteria.
The Turin Shroud
"Shrouded" in mystery, the Turin Shroud holds significant religious importance as it is believed to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. The stretch of linen has the clearly defined imprint of a man’s face, and further signs show that crucifixion wounds are present.
Carbon dating, by 1980s standards, placed the linen as being produced in the medieval ages. This possibility has not deterred staunch believers, though, and the shroud is currently housed at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Turin in Italy, the city from which it gets its namesake.