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They Might Seem Useless, But These 8 Body Parts Actually Have Surprisingly Cool Functions

As the Ancient Greeks used to say, “Know Thyself.” It probably was meant a little more philosophically that we’re choosing to interpret it, but learning about how your body is put together and why is some seriously fun stuff.

We’ve all marvelled at our fingers and toes, wrinkling into prunes in the bath. We’ve all stared at that weird fleshy appendage hanging down in the back of our throats.

We’ve all known someone – or been that someone – with an emergency appendectomy. “It’s fine,” they say, “the appendix is completely useless anyway.”

But our bodies are amazing machines, and, while we may not need some of its features any more, there’s very little in our anatomies with no purpose whatsoever.

And about those things we don’t need any more? They’re evidence of where we’ve been – and that we continue to evolve even to this day.

Your appendix

Turns out the human appendix – that weird structure attached to the colon that seemed to have little purpose but to occasionally inflame – isn’t just an evolutionary vestige after all.

Recent research has found that it might play a key role in our immune systems by harbouring good bacteria that help fight infection. Good work, little buddy!

That extra ear hole

preauricularsinus(Smooth_O/Wikimedia Commons)

If you look carefully at your ears, you might notice you have a tiny additional hole just where the helix meets the side of your head.

This is called the preauricular sinus, and only a tiny percentage of people have them. It’s actually a rare birth defect first documented by Van Heusinger in 1864.

We don’t know why we have them – but evolutionary biologist Neil Shubin of the University of Chicago and the Field Museum of Natural History has hypothesised that they’re an evolutionary remnant of fish gills.

Wrinkly fingers

fingers(Brenderous/Flickr/CC-BY-2.0)

If you spend too long in the swimming pool, you’re going to notice that your fingers and toes start to look a little like raisins. This might not be pointless, according to a paper published in the journal Biology Letters in 2013.

They conducted experiments and found that underwater objects were manipulated much more adroitly by wrinkled fingers than unwrinkled fingers – suggesting that the feature exists to give us improved grip in both handling objects and walking when wet surfaces are involved.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Junk DNA

We have a lot of DNA in our body that, until recently, didn’t really seem to do anything.

It doesn’t create proteins, and it seems to make us more susceptible to damage and disease – but it makes up a significant part of our genome. If it wasn’t somehow beneficial, evolution would have at least started phasing out this so-called “junk DNA,” but that hasn’t happened.

Recently, researchers may have figured out what it’s for – it plays a critical role in holding out genome together by ensuring that chromosomes bundle correctly inside the nuclei if our cells. Without that function, cells die – so it seems like “junk” DNA is not so junky after all.

“Useless” immune cells

We have these immune cells in our bodies that nobody could figure out what they were for.

It was a real head-scratcher, because these “silenced” lymphocytes are present in our bodies in large numbers and only seemed to emerge to attack the body in autoimmune diseases. It looks like a liability, right?

But it ain’t. It turns out that the cells represent a new type of immunity that we didn’t know about before – they attack dangerous infections that otherwise evade the immune system by disguising themselves as part of the body. A pretty useful line of defence to have, wouldn’t you say?

Gut bacteria

There’s a reason that experts have recently suggested that we all start referring to ourselves using the royal “we”.

In recent years, research has found that the microbes that live inside of us, especially our intestines (our microbiome), are symbiotic – and they have far more of an effect on our lives than we realised.

They have been implicated in such illnesses as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome, which means they may be pretty danged important. But they also seem to play a role in regulating other things, too – such as our appetites, and even our moods.

Interstitium

Turns out we may have an organ wrapped around our other organs, and it’s been hiding in plain sight for all this time. The newly classified organ is called the interstitium, and previously scientists had just thought it was relatively unremarkable, relatively solid tissue to fill the space between our organs.

It’s actually filled with fluid, supported by a collagen lattice, and it helps protect our organs from external shocks as we move around, much like air cushions in running shoes.

The pink bit in your eye

eye(Peter Clarke/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-4.0)

If you look in the mirror, you’ll see a little pink bit of conjunctival tissue in the corner of your eye. This is called the plica semilunaris, and these days its primary function is to help with tear drainage and eyeball mobility.

But once upon a time it was a nictitating membrane – what we call a third eyelid, a translucent eyelid that can be drawn over the eye to keep it moist and protected while maintaining a measure of vision.

If you have a cat or a dog, you may have seen their third eyelid while they’re sleeping. Humans and most other primates don’t need this feature any more, so it evolved away a long time ago – but we still have that vestigial lump of tissue.

Last year, doctors reported the second known case of a nictitating membrane in a human. A nine-year-old girl had a persistent membrane across her left eye that could not be retracted. It was surgically excised, and her eye underneath was fine.

A version of this article was first published in June 2018.

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Bizzare & Odd

Secrets Of Chernobyl Nuclear Incident You’ve Never Heard Of!

Chernobyl became the name associated with a disaster of a nuclear incident. This gained globally focus when reactor 4 exploded on Apr 26, 1986, in Soviet Ukraine.

It released more than one hundred ninety tons of radioactive materials into the air as well as contaminating surrounding areas.

All details outlined below were sourced from several survivor interviews as well as top secret Soviet files now declassified.

Almost all equipment utilized for cleanup is now missing

Soon after the incident, they brought equipment from all the parts of Soviet Union. Its purpose was to wash the reactor structures as well as surrounding places.

The cleanup lasted for several months. Later on, many devices used in the actual operation close to the reactor needed to be buried deep underground. Also, the fire motors that at first arrived to put out the fire.

Other relatively less infected devices were left behind in a variety of, especially noticeable graveyards. Simply because they were nevertheless highly irradiated.

Nuclear Incident3

Little by little local people and numerous criminal gangs were arriving and attempting to scavenge replacement parts for retailing in black-markets. It was noticeable from the degrading conditions from the machines saved there.

Forgotten here are a lot more than 1600 army helicopters, aquariums, military armoured private service providers, bulldozers and much more military gear.

The machines were in excellent operating condition. However, there wasn’t a practical way to decontaminate these devices.

Workers within doubt

Only a day prior to the explosion, the Chernobyl power plant workers were organizing the actual experiment. There were numerous people at the power plant that was uncertain if the test should go ahead.

They considered that the reactor had one defect. Also, it was shaky for a test that will need to disable numerous security features.

Regrettably, their employers didn’t think the same as them. They were adamant that the experiment is finished on the shaky reactor as scheduled.

Lack of details sharing

An identical reactor in Soviet Lithuania nearly had the disaster when it was working under lower power.

This particular reactor had the design problem that made it extremely unstable in low energy configuration.

Had this info end up being discussed with other operators of the identical reactor style, then the Chernobyl catastrophe might have been avoided.

Regrettably, the Chernobyl nuclear operators weren’t aware of this issue.

An accident waiting around to happen

Prior to the incident, there were 104 small accidents in the Chernobyl plant.

About thirty-five such occurrences were straight attributed in the direction of operator mistakes.

Nevertheless, most of the other mishaps were because of design imperfections combined with building defects. They afterwards got irritated because of flaunting of safety protocols and administration error.

Nuclear Incident2

Generally speaking, the plant was condemned from the beginning because of this lax mindset towards security procedures.

Normal routine

Following the incident, the actual residents from the city of Pripyat noticed individuals scrubbing the actual streets along with soap as well as water.

This didn’t increase any security bells one of the residents because was not the very first time they had observed such a view.

In earlier situations of minor mishaps, the same process was used within the city of Pripyat.

Human Resettlement

Few seniors who were removed from the area have made the decision to come back to the infected areas in spite of fierce argument from the local government councils.

All the individuals evacuated out of the infected areas were supplied with new houses.

Nonetheless, the pressure of leaving everything was hard for many.

Many people chose to suffer no longer as well as returned towards the houses that they had abandoned within the wake of crisis evacuations.

Individuals who never left

After the incident, the radiation distributed over European countries erratically. The resulting infected areas of land was spread throughout Europe.

Nuclear Incident1

The places surrounding instant accident site obtained the actual heaviest contaminants.

Because of the precise location of the reactor close to the Russian as well as the Belarussian border, regions of those countries additionally received weighty doses of radiation.

Today a lot more than 5 mil people still live in infected areas of Ukraine, Russia as well as Belarus. The actual authorities have never taken any kind of effort in order to relocate individuals from these kinds of areas.

An accident which never ceased

It might come as a shock for several that the rays contamination through Chernobyl fallout proceeds to pass on due to numerous factors.

Following the initial rays fallout within the soil, the actual radionuclides began to move much deeper into the ground over time.

In the beginning, the initial after effects were assimilated by timber and little plants which brought it over the surface area while they grew.

As time passed the rest of the radionuclides sunk deep enough to get assimilated by big tree roots that introduced them over a surface from the soil once more.

These radionuclides got inserted in the trees and shrubs and can be identified virtually in most component of the actual tree composition.

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Bizzare & Odd

Grieving For Robots And Dolls In Japan

You might recall in 2014, different news sources reported on funerals held for AIBO robot dogs in Japan. Since Sony stopped repairing and making spare parts for AIBOs, the puppies were gradually “dying out.” In reaction to this, Buddhist priests have been holding funeral services for them.

This might seem pretty odd to anyone outside Japan. Indeed, a great deal of people find it strange as well. Some can even find it quite upsetting that somehow, in treating an artificial human creation as a living thing, we’ve lost contact with reality and are forgetting what makes living things special.

But treating specific man-made creations with the identical regard as organic objects is not anything new in Japan. There is an entire article on funeral rites for inanimate items here. Objects that might be disposed of in a ritualistic style in Japan have included needles, chopsticks, combs and bladed items — generally, things that people use in a fairly personal, intimate manner. Other things which might be disposed of more attentively are dolls. Some Japanese are reluctant to throw out dolls as ordinary rubbish since they resemble people, and therefore it somehow seems unkind to deal with them as trash.

Japanese doll

There are various reasons for doing so. One is regarding the idea of”sympathetic magic” as clarified in The Golden Bough.  There are two types of sympathetic magic. Firstthere is “homeopathic magic,” in which an item could be attached to some other object by simply resembling it. This will explain the significance of disposing of dolls through ritual means — they look like people, therefore they have to be treated like people. Second, there’s “contagious magic,” where two otherwise unrelated items form a magic link by simply being in contact with each other. In the case of the personal items listed above, they’re viewed as”contaminated” with this individual’s spirit, providing them a supernatural relationship with that person. As this kind of relationship could be harmful, ritual disposal of these objects prevents any harm from coming to the prior owner.

Ultimately, the idea of treating things with respect in Japan very likely has a relation to the animistic character of Shinto.  In Shinto, kami can occupy both man-made and natural objects. In a similar manner, things which have been carefully handpicked, such as traditional inks and masks, are considered to possess, if not something so evasive as kami, a sort of soul or spirit which requires respect.  Disposing of such an item in a careless, disrespectful way can violate the spirit, which might become vengeful; this is the foundation for the belief in O-bake — ghosts which frequently take the form of old, disused items like umbrellas or lanterns.

Mask for Japanese Noh theatre. Hand-crafted noh masks are treated with great caution and respect — actors will talk and bow before putting them on.

Apart from the appeasement of spirits which may inhibit an item, an individual might want to dispose of things in ritual style for more symbolic purposes. By holding funeral rites for items, one is showing respect for this thing’s creator, acknowledging it is a piece of artwork that’s taken time and skill to make. Also, one is showing gratitude for the service which the item has contributed. It is a method of recognizing that without the object, your life could have been harder and you’re grateful for that thing’s presence. It shows you’ve created an attachment with this particular thing and therefore are reluctant to part with it.

By being thankful to each of the items we use, instead of thoughtlessly throwing them away when they have outlived their usefulness, we step from the”disposable world” mentality that’s so commonplace nowadays. Respecting man-made objects reminds us that these items initially came from nature, and are consequently a valuable resource that has to be used carefully and sustainably. This applies to some items created by man, be it an old needle or a robotic puppy.

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Strangest things people have found underwater

The ocean is big, like really big. We’ve only explored 5 percent of it, so there are amazing, unbelievable things we haven’t even seen yet. But what we have seen is still pretty strange, and some of the stuff we’ve found there, even stranger:

The Baltic Sea anomaly

In 2011 Swedish diving team Ocean X explored the bottom of the Baltic Sea. With a name like Ocean X, something straight out of a science fiction B-movie, they had to know they would discover something weird. And they certainly did: a weird disk laying on the bottom of the sea. It was 60 meters wide and basically looked like the Millennium Falcon had plopped down in the Baltic. Obviously, UFO hunters went nuts.

Theories lit up the internet — UFO believers thought this irrefutable proof that aliens had landed on Earth. The anomaly just looked too artificial to believe that it was naturally made. It even looked like it had stairs off to the side. More “grounded” theorists thought it was the turret of an old-school battleship or a Nazi anti-submarine mine. But that didn’t fit with the dating — it was at least 20,000 years old.

Finally, scientists came along and showed that it was probably a glacial deposit. But it’s a damn weird glacial deposit. UFO theorists aren’t convinced, and are sure there is a government cover up. Even scientists are still arguing about exactly what caused it. So anything goes at this point. Except for the whole Falcon thing. That’s just silly.

Bimini Road

Man-made objects like roads and bridges don’t belong underwater. Ancient roads belong underwater even less. But off the Bahama islands, there’s an ancient road that was mysteriously laid down long ago. Or so some people think. Called Bimini Road, this is the speculated route to Atlantis.

First discovered in the ’60s, Bimini Road is a bunch of stones laid down next to each other, like an underwater cobblestone road. The artifact suddenly starts and ends, implying that it’s a small part of a long-lost causeway. However, the big question was: how did it get underwater in the first place? There wasn’t any large civilizations centered on the Bahamas, so conspiracy theorists though that it was part of an ancient Atlantian highway.

Making things even weirder, the Bimini Road matched a prediction made in 1938 by American mythic Edgar Cayce: “A portion of the temples may yet be discovered under the slime of ages and sea water near Bimini … Expect it in ’68 or ’69 – not so far away.” Bimini Road got discovered in 1968.

As they usually do, scientists came up with an alternate (and probably more reasonable) explanation: this was just a really weird-looking natural rock formation. Analysis of the rocks showed no evidence of them being cut by tools. Still, it’s an odd anomaly, and Edgar Cayce’s shockingly correct prophesy shrouds the underwater causeway in mystical mystery.

The ghost fleet of Truk Lagoon

By 1944, World War II was going really, really badly for the Japanese. Allied forces had achieved air superiority, and United States bombers could fly all over the Pacific, bombing Japanese ships without much fear of retribution. In that situation, the Japanese made the weird decision to keep the bulk of their navy in one place: the Truk Lagoon in the Caroline Islands.

The Allies launched a massive two-day air raid against the lagoon. The Japanese lost 50 ships and 250 airplanes, which was a huge chunk of their remaining fleet. There was a war to fight, so the Americans didn’t have time to clean up the island — all of the sunken war material got left at the bottom of the ocean.

Divers started re-exploring the lagoon in the ’60s, revealing the eerie underwater graveyard with documentary films. The ships, airplanes and tanks are in nearly pristine condition. Creepily, most of them still had the bodies of Japanese sailors inside of them. Tourists can now make a dive to the weird graveyard (the bodies have mercifully been removed), but it’s not safe. Ragged metal edges of blasted ships can easily cut through skin, which would be only a minor annoyance … if the water’s weren’t shark infested. But whaddya know, they are.

The old-school tech has also been leaking toxic oil and fuel into the water for 70 years now. Clearly, the ghost fleet is still trying to fight back.

Underwater rivers

Rivers are things that shouldn’t exist underwater, outside of Spongebob. Turns out, though, rivers can form underwater given the right combination of water conditions. Or maybe magic. It’s not too clear.

The biggest and best underwater river is in the Yucatán Peninsula. At the bottom of the sea there is a thin layer of hydrogen sulfate, which basically acts as a barrier between two layers of water. It’s not something a diver will feel when passing through, but it creates a secondary body of water below the proper ocean.

This isn’t just some weird formation that divers call an underwater river even though it doesn’t really look like one. Fallen leaves cover the dirt banks of the river. Submerged trees dot the edges. Besides being underwater, it looks just like a normal terrestrial river.

The river is either the coolest thing we have ever seen, or one of the most unsettling. There’s just nothing like it in the world, and it looks like a piece of dry land got submerged by a super angry mythical god without changing anything. How the system survives is beyond our understanding. If we had a few PhDs in oceanography, maybe we would start to understand it. But what we really can’t comprehend is, how somebody hasn’t made a really cool underwater horror movie about it. Get James Cameron on the phone!

Upsweep

Various governments around the world run ocean-listening networks. They say they’re monitoring the oceans to study glaciers, volcanic activity and animal migration. But from what we can tell, governments mostly use them to record creepy sounds from the deep that sound like Cthulhu.

The most famous one was “Bloop,” which everybody thought was a giant sea monster mating call, but ended up being a normal old ice shelf breaking apart. Like the most popular girl at school, Bloop attracted everybody’s attention, leaving the true mysterious sounds without limelight. The coolest among them is Upsweep, a periodic rising sound that’s been picked up since 1991. Unlike other weird noises, Upsweep is periodic and uniform, without the randomness we’d expect from a natural occurrence. And it just keeps showing up, with no explanation. At first, we thought Upsweep was the sound of sea water contacting underwater lava (yes that’s real, so now you have another thing to waste your afternoon reading about), but the sound profile didn’t match, nor did that it has been detected over and over like clockwork.

Since 1991, Upsweep has slowly gotten quieter, but it’s still audible to underwater hydrophones. Even the official National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration website says they basically have no clue why this is happening. When even the government openly admits they’re stumped, we know Upsweep is caused by something amazing. Until we know for sure, sea monsters are in the realm of possibility.

Living microbes from the Jurassic period

The oceans are home to many an animal that hasn’t really changed for millions of years — evolution just decided “yep, good enough” and stopped messing around with them. But these creatures have nothing on a group of microbes found at the bottom of the ocean who win the survivor award, hands down — they have stayed alive since the Jurassic period.

A group of European researchers discovered them while digging sediment cores in the ocean. When they analyzed the dirt, they found a colony of microbes that seemed barely alive. Test showed that the oldest microbes in the colony were 86 million years old — they had somehow survived all these years without food or sunlight. That’s one hell of a diet.

The microbes have such an unbelievably slow metabolism, it takes them 1,000 years to divide. In contrast, E. Coli cells divide every 17 minutes. So without cool scientific tools, you’d have to watch these ancient creatures for 1,000 years to even prove they were alive. It’s amazing to think about how much history had passed by the oldest cells in the colony. Thankfully, a stray submarine torpedo didn’t blow them up.

The coolest thing about them is that it shows how resilient single-celled organisms are, adding to the likelihood of finding single-celled life in space. We’re sure that space microbes, and our Jurassic microbes, would have amazing stories to tell, if only they had prehistoric mouths with which to gab.

Apollo 11 engines

When rockets shot into space in the ’60s and ’70s, scientists weren’t too concerned where the boosters engines and other equipment landed when jettisoned. As long as it didn’t smash into a residential area, they were fine with it falling somewhere in the ocean. Basically, NASA was a bunch of heartless space litterers.

Rockets parts are scattered among Earth’s oceans, but it’s nearly impossible to find them. That didn’t deter Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. In 2012, he assembled a secret dive team to try to find the F-1 engines that shot the Apollo missions into orbit. But he wasn’t just content with any old engines — he wanted the ones from Apollo 11, the mission that landed men on the Moon. After tons of searching, they found them, laying 14,000 feet below the ocean surface.

The engines were in remarkably good shape, for hunk of metals that dropped from space and slammed into the ocean. Bezos recovered them and quickly contacted NASA. Like clingy children, NASA claimed legal ownership over the engines they hadn’t seen in over 40 years. Bezos turned them over without a fuss, proving he’s better than us. We would have tried to hide them as long as possible … at least, until our landlords get mad at us, despite the rules not saying a thing about not being able to stash a rocket in our apartment.

Underwater crop circles

UFO researchers love speculating about crop circles, even though they’re almost certainly just pranks pulled by bored rural kids. While the “normal” crop circles aren’t super mysterious anymore, when they started popping up at the bottom of the ocean, they raised more than a few skeptical eyebrows.

Divers off the coast of Japan started seeing the weird patterns in 1995, each one about seven feet in diameter. This seemed like another sign aliens were hanging out on Earth, only now they were drawing weird pictures in the sand. That’s a weird pastime for aliens but, fortunately for their reputation, it turns out the underwater crop circles are naturally occurring.

Honestly, the real explanation isn’t that much weirder than aliens — male pufferfish are the culprits. They spend ten days creating the circular pattern, to impress lady pufferfish. During mating season, the ladies swim around the ocean looking for the coolest circles, and lays her eggs in the middle of the ones she finds the best. Nobody knows how the female pufferfish make their decision but, evidently, they have extremely refined aesthetic taste.

The male pufferfish gets the worst part of the deal. The female pufferfish doesn’t stay around, and he has to raise the eggs. Once they hatch, he doesn’t even get to spend time hanging out with the baby fish. Nope, it’s simply on to the next patch of sand to build another nest. For his whole life, he’s just making circles in the sand. That sounds depressing, but he is just a fish, and they aren’t well-known for having existential crises.

The mysterious manganese balls of the Atlantic Ocean

Throughout the ocean, there are groups of little manganese nodules hanging out, slowly growing. How they grow isn’t too much of a mystery: manganese gets dissolved in the ocean water, and slowly accretes on other clumps of the metal. And we mean slowly. The little metal balls grow only one centimeter every million years, so they’ve been around a really long time. Because they’re so easy to harvest, mining companies were pumped when they were discovered, and now some of them harvest the metal from the ocean surface.

Finding vast beds of metal balls on the ocean floor is weird enough — it’s even stranger that scientists don’t know how they even started in the first place. A 42-day expedition was launched to figure it out, but they found out nothing. Theorists believe they might have been started by ancient underwater microbes, or they’re just a natural result of ancient oceans, which might have been more metallic. But let’s be honest, it’s gotta be aliens. Let’s just go with that.

The Fury and Helca Straight noise

The Fury and Helca Straight is a body of water in the Qikiqtaaluk region of Nunavut, Canada, which sounds like the coolest name in the world for a geographic region. The awesome name of the region isn’t what makes it famous, though — it’s the mysterious sounds coming from the water.

All throughout the summer, boatmen on the water hear mysterious humming or pinging sounds. Oddly, the sounds travel only through the water, and are audible when they reverberate through the hulls of boats. It’s a super-weird occurrence, almost like the ocean is trying to use Canadian boats to send a message to the human race.

Nobody knows why it’s happening, though there are a ton of theories going around, most of them blaming Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation mining, Arctic research stations or Greenpeace conservation efforts. How conservation efforts create mysterious pinging sounds is beyond us, but all the groups investigated, and couldn’t find anything they were doing to create it. So now the locals are really creeped out.

Even the military stepped in to try to figure out what is going on — nothing was discovered. So as of now, the sounds still remain an utter mystery. Qikiqtaaluk might not have been on anybody’s list as a paranormal hotspot, but things are definitely spooky up in the frozen North. We just hope it isn’t the White Walkers.

A huge World War II silver deposit

War is expensive business, and the last thing that England wanted in World War II was to lose to the Nazis, just because they were strapped for cash. Before the Internet and world-wide banking, that meant silver and gold from the Empire had to be put on a ship and sailed around the world. That’s super dangerous when Nazi U-boats are in the waters.

In 1942, the SS City of Cairo sailed from India, with 100 tons of silver to help out the war effort. Shockingly, they decided to sail without escort. To the surprise of absolutely no one, a U-boat found the ship and blew it to pieces. Oddly, the captain of the submarine felt super-bad about it, surfaced his boat, yelled to the survivors in life boats, “sorry for sinking you” and disappeared back under the water. Meanwhile, all those silver coins sunk to the bottom of the ocean.

For decades, $50 million of silver just sat at the bottom of the ocean, with only the fish around to use it. Finally, it was rediscovered (because fish are stingy and don’t like to spend money), and the United Kingdom financed a team to grab it, probably with strict orders to take none of the coins for themselves. Upon retrieval, all the money was returned to England, melted down, and sold off. Too bad — if it was us, we probably would have made a Scrooge McDuck-style, coin-filled swimming pool.

The giant jellyfish that was inspecting an oil rig

When working on an oil rig, the last thing anybody wants is a giant sea monster to show up. But that’s exactly what happened in 2012 when cameras on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico picked up … something. Out of nowhere, a huge amorphous blob of flesh appeared, circling the rig, freaking people out, and disappearing back into the ocean.

What was the thing? The video shows a bunch of details that don’t look like an Earth creature. The sea monster looked like a big brown sheet of flesh but had reproductive organs and something that looked like a network of nerves. Clearly, this was alien life.

The actual explanation isn’t much less weird than extraterrestrial visitors. Biologists identified the creature as Deepstaria engimatica, which sounds like the coolest progressive metal band ever. This massive jellyfish looks more like a misshapen blob of brown flesh than the pretty, delicate jellyfish that we see in aquariums. It’s rarely seen and usually hangs out in deep water, where it grows to absurd sizes. Part of the issue with studying the species is that it’s too big for most submersibles to take it as a sample.

Okay, so biologists now know what it was, but why did the jellyfish try to come hang out with an oil rig? They aren’t known for friendliness, and they aren’t exactly the smartest of creatures. But for some reason, this giant specimen took a liking to our oil rig. Hopefully they aren’t planning some sort of takeover.

What is the story behind the 52-Hertz whale?

All over the oceans, researchers set up underwater listening devices, usually to track whales. Every whale species has distinctive calls, so whale fans can easily identify what they’re listening to. At least, until they heard the 52-Hertz whale. Since 1989, this whale has stumped researchers because it’s the only one in existence that calls at that specific frequency.

What is going on with this lonely whale? People tracking the whale (named 52) say that it always travels alone. They have never heard it with other whales or heard any other whales calling at 52-Hertz. Most likely, 52 is looking for other whales of its species, constantly calling out for some company. No other whales of his species ever hear him. 52 is totally alone.

Nobody knows exactly how this happened. Most likely, he belongs to a totally different species of whale that we haven’t identified. If that’s the case, where are the other members of his species? He might very well be the last one, which provides tons of tantalizing mysteries about what happened to his species. Even weirder, nobody has ever seen the lonely cetacean. He has only ever been heard, like a ghost in the ocean. One day we might find him, but for now 52 is an inspirational icon for people who love solitude.

The disappearing island of Bermeja

This is a case of where the mystery comes from when explorers didn’t find something underwater. In this case, a whole island. Bermeja was an island off the coast of Mexico that appeared on maps as far back as the 17th century. But sometime around the 1800s, the whole island disappeared.

People keep looking for it in its last known location. The British supposedly found the island in 1844, reporting it a few hundred feet below the ocean surface. Nobody could verify their claims, and the island became an urban legend. At least, it was an urban legend before it blew up into a full-blown conspiracy.

Believers uncovered a 1857 map from the United States that featured Bermeja. Mexican maps and documents included the island up to 1946. Obviously, the government believed it existed. According to discovered documents, the Mexican government sent out an expedition to the location in 1997 but reported there was nothing there. The last known mention of the island is in a 1998 Mexican book.

So what’s going on here? If the island existed, it was above the water at least until 1844. In 1997, the Mexican and United States governments agreed to drill for oil off the coast of Mexico, and then poof, the island supposedly stops existing. A lot of people think the island was deliberately blown up for some nefarious purpose. These aren’t just crackpot conspirators: Mexican senators are on record pushing this conspiracy theory. That still wouldn’t explain the British claim though. Something weird is happening, and Bermeja better be the topic of Indiana Jones 5.

NOAA’s unexplained sounds

The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration operates a ton of hydrophones that listen for strange noises in the water. They were first put in place to pick up Soviet submarines but now they pick up weird noises that sound like alien life or deep-sea monster calls.

The most popular one is the Bloop, which sounded like Cthulhu’s mating call. Even though Bloop sounded organic, it’s most likely the sound of an iceberg breaking in two, which is nearly as cool. Bloop is the most popular of the NOAA mystery noises, but the other ones are even more interesting.

There’s Julia, which creepily sounds like somebody moaning into the hydrophones. The sound is oddly organic, but the NOAA claims it’s totally just ice and nothing that anybody needs to worry about. They would. Another weird one is Train, a constant hum that echoes through the Antarctic and sounds like a, you guessed it, train going over tracks. It’s consistent, but the NOAA still hasn’t quite figured it out.

Our favorite mysterious sound is Whistle. Whistle is really weird because it happened only once and was picked up by only one hydrophone. That’s super unusual because usually these sounds echo through the ocean and get picked up by multiple hydrophones. We think it might be a sea monster, but the NOAA says that it was probably an underwater volcano blowing up, which we didn’t even know is a thing. Honestly, we don’t know which explanation is cooler.

The Gulf of Alaska whale-pocalypse

In 2015, the Gulf of Alaska experienced a “whale-pocalypse” when thirty carcases were found in the gulf. Nobody knows what happened. One whale death is a tragedy, but thirty bumping off at once is a mystery.

Marine biologists can tell the whales weren’t intentionally beaching themselves and were dying in the water first, which means something horrible has happened in the waters off the Gulf of Alaska. Leading theories say a bloom of poisonous algae probably did them in, which is terrifying in its own right. Algae can just randomly pop up and murder a big pod of whales? Remind us never to go swimming again.

But the idea of seas that suddenly turn poisonous is the most reasonable solution to the problem. We are sure we can dig up some crazy conspiracies involving deep-sea killer squids, interspecies civil war, or Kirk and Spock doing a really bad job retrieving whales to defeat the Whale Probe. Oddly, this isn’t the first time it happened either. The NOAA has recorded 62 similar events since 1991, and only a third of them have been solved. What is killing off our whales, and why can’t anybody figure it out?

All the whales are singing deeper

Over the past few decades, whales have been acting weird. For some reason, modern whales are singing lower and lower each year.

It’s a really weird mystery. This isn’t just one group of whales singing deeper—whales around the world are doing the same thing, at the same rate. Whales from different parts of the world are dropping the pitch of their calls at the same time but without being physically around each other. The songs seem like the whales are coordinating them, but that’s impossible. It’s happening quite quickly too. They’re now singing 30 percent lower than how they were singing in the 1960s.

Countless explanations come up in marine biology communities. Unfortunately, none of them involve whale ESP or whales trying to do their best Leonard Cohen impersonation. The leading theory is that since whales are dying off, they have to drop the tone of their calls to make it resonate better in the water, since it has to travel farther to reach another whale. Others marine biologists think the whales are responding to new ocean dynamics or noise pollution. Our favorite theory is that they have developed a new mating strategy, almost like they had a whale sexual revolution, those frisky whales.

Lake Michigan’s underwater Stonehenge

Stonehenge is creepy enough as is, but finding another Stonehenge underwater? That’s just too much for us to handle. That’s exactly what divers found though, in what we used to think wasn’t a very mysterious place: Lake Michigan.

The lake isn’t well known for archaeological mysteries, so when divers found the ring of stones under the water, it was a huge surprise. The structure looks just like the Stonehenge on the British Isles and got constructed in 10,000 BC. The stones have the familiar circular pattern and even have a carving of a mastodon in them. Because they’re underwater, they have degraded much more than the above-water Stonehenge. Researchers can still see the pattern though. Nobody really knows how they got there, or why they bear such a resemblance to Stonehenge.

Our biggest problem is that doing research requires scientists to go underwater, which isn’t ideal conditions to do scientific work. Leading theories say that back in ancient history, Lake Michigan was dry, and climate change slowly filled it up with water. Okay, we can buy that, but it doesn’t really explain how the ancient Michiganders decided to build the same stone ring as the people on the other side of the Atlantic. Did they have contact with the ancient people of the British Isles, or did ancient Michiganders and ancient Brits descend from the same group of people? Whatever the case, this made Michigan 500-percent more mysterious than it was before. We don’t want to say aliens did it, but …

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