30 Famous Mysteries That Actually Were Explained Scientifically

11. Ships Disappear In The Bermuda Triangle At About The Same Rate As They Do Anywhere Else

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For decades, sailors, pilots, and travelers have feared the Bermuda Triangle. This area lies in the Atlantic Ocean, and at least 50 ships and 20 airplanes have “mysteriously” vanished there. Stories about disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle area date back centuries but the name “Bermuda Triangle” was coined in 1964 by pulp science-fiction writer Vincent Gaddis, who wrote an article about it for Argosy magazine. Over the years, many theories have attempted to explain these disappearances, including Earth’s magnetic field interfering with navigational instruments; enormous bubbles of methane gas bursting on the surface of the ocean; cryptids like sea monsters or aliens; and something to do with the lost city of Atlantis.

The point is not to debunk these explanations, because the real flaw in the Bermuda Triangle theory is the premise that an unusually high number of mishaps involving ships and planes happen there. Pilot and author Larry Kusche spent years researching these disappearances, and he found that many of the reported disappearances didn’t actually occur within the Bermuda Triangle. As for those shipwrecks and plane incidents, Kusche and others like the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration have pointed out that maritime disasters occur at about the same rate within the Triangle as they do everywhere else.

12. The Loch Ness Monster Is Probably A Large Eel

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For almost 1,500 years, people have reported seeing an enormous, mysterious creature living in Loch Ness, a freshwater lake near Inverness, Scotland. The earliest reference to a Scottish lake monster dates back to the biography of Saint Columba, which was written in 565 AD. Reports continued periodically afterward, but they kicked into high gear in 1933, when a road was built along Loch Ness’s shore.

One year later, British doctor Robert Wilson shared the infamous Loch Ness Monster photograph, which purported to reveal the monster in its natural habitat (and in no way looks like a plastic dinosaur toy in a bathtub). Though Wilson later admitted the photo was a hoax, belief in the legend persists to this day. As of 2012, a quarter of Scots believed Nessie was real, or at least told a pollster they did. Some think the Loch Ness Monster is a prehistoric holdout, a dinosaur that somehow survived to the present day. Others think it’s a cryptid.

There has never been concrete proof of a lake monster living in Loch Ness, not even a washed-up carcass. So why do so many people still believe it? As with a lot of these popular myths, it’s not because people are delusional, or that they’re seeing something that isn’t really there; it’s more likely they are seeing some kind of creature and misunderstanding what it is. Skeptics have suggested that many supposed Nessie sightings are really just large fish native to the area – possibly a wels catfish, a sturgeon, or a Greenland shark.

In 2019, a team of researchers from New Zealand analyzed water samples from Loch Ness and studied the DNA of every type of living organism found within it. They found no evidence of dinosaurs, sturgeon, catfish, or sharks, nor did they find the DNA of a previously unknown organism. However, they did find plenty of eel DNA. Like many freshwater lakes in Europe, Loch Ness is home to the European conger, a species of eel that spawns in the Sargasso Sea near the Bahamas and migrates to European bodies of water. European congers can grow up to 7 feet long and weigh up to 130 pounds, making them the likeliest Nessie candidate. If there is a bigger animal living in Loch Ness, it hasn’t left any DNA behind.

13. The ‘Flying Dutchman’ Ghost Ship Was Likely The Result Of A Common Optical Illusion

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Practically since sailing was first invented, sailors have reported seeing mysterious floating objects on the horizon. The most famous of these is the “Flying Dutchman,” sightings of which likely originated in the 1600s – but persisted into the 20th century. Usually, these sightings had similar details: A ghostly ship appears just over the horizon, appearing to be lit by some kind of unearthly light, usually during a storm. Sailors theorized that this ghost ship was a former Dutch trading vessel doomed to sail the ocean for eternity, and whenever it appeared before living sailors, it was a bad omen. Poems about ghost ships helped spread these legends even further, like Walter Scott’s Rokeby or Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

Ghost ships are just one type of unearthly object people have spotted at sea. In 1643, the Jesuit priest Domenico Giardina reported seeing a floating city over the strait of Messina, just over the horizon. In 1810, cartographers Yakov Sannikov and Matvei Gedenschtrom reported seeing a floating land mass among the New Siberian Islands.

In reality, reports of ghost ships, ghost cities, and ghost islands are all examples of a common optical illusion called “Fata Morgana.” (The name derives from the character Morgan le Fay, a sorceress from the legend of King Arthur who could create beguiling illusions.) A Fata Morgana is caused by the way our eye perceives light when it passes through spaces with different densities. At the ocean’s surface, the water keeps the air relatively cool. Above that layer of cool air is another layer of warmer air. These differences in temperature create atmospheric layers with different densities. When light passes through them, it refracts, or bends. The human eye assumes the light it can see travels in a straight line, so from a distance, refraction can make an object on the water’s surface appear as if it’s floating above it. Most likely, superstitious sailors probably were seeing real ships. They just looked like they were floating in the air.

Fata Morganas are convincing enough that even though we now know their cause, we can still fall for them. In 2015, residents of Foshan and Jiangxi reported seeing a floating city in the sky. Once again, it was just a mirage.

14. A Man Missing For Nine Years Spotted On Google Maps


72-year-old David Lee Niles disappeared after leaving a bar in Byron Township, Michigan, in 2006. Niles had been suffering from both cancer and depression, so his family had assumed the worst, that he’d taken his own life, even putting out an obituary for him in 2011. It took nine years for them to figure out what happened—but the answer would turn out to be startlingly obvious. The answer was always there.

A maintenance worker installing Christmas lights with a crane on a nearby funeral home saw a car in a small lake nearby, and police divers confirmed that it was Niles when they found his wallet. But the twist is that the car was clearly visible on Google Maps. Anyone looking at the lake could have seen it.

15. The Egyptian Secret To Moving Stone Blocks For The Pyramids Wasn’t Aliens, It Was Sledge

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Aliens seem to get a lot of credit from conspiracy theorists! Aliens didn’t help build the Egyptian pyramids, even though the stones would have been difficult to move. In 2014, physicists from the University of Amsterdam dispelled rumors by putting a method found on an ancient tomb drawing to the test. They determined that the workers hauled the massive stone blocks on a sort of sled. By pouring water on sand or slippery clay as a type of lubricant, the workers reduced the friction of their path and drag the large blocks to construct the pyramids.

16. How Did The Ancient Indus Survive In The Desert Without A River?

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The Indus civilization stood around 5,000 years ago in what now is northwest India and Pakistan. The civilization was known for cotton and date farming and some of its cities even had plumbing and a working sewer system.

Scientists were confused about how the civilization thrived in the desert without a nearby river source. Though there was a glacier-fed river there once, historians once believed that the civilization dried up as soon as the river did. But recent research revealed that the river dried up 3,000 years before the collapse of the Indus civilization. Meanwhile, the civilization relied on monsoon flooding to trap groundwater in the clay in order to extract it and feed their crops.

17. Jaw Pain Drove The Tsavo Lions To Hunt People

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During a nine-month period in 1898, two lions named “The Ghost” and “The Darkness” killed and ate an estimated 135 railroad workers in Kenya. The story was a worldwide sensation in the newspapers and even resulted in a Hollywood movie in the 1990s. What perplexed animal experts was why the lions had developed an insatiable taste for human flesh before they were finally shot dead. In the past, experts believed it was hunger but new research in a jaw study of lions suggest it was likely jaw pain. Researchers believe that jaw pain in the lions would have made hunting and killing their normal large prey incredibly painful and picking off humans was easier on the lions’ jaws.

18. Paul Fronczak’s Real Identity

Paul Fronczak’s Real Identity.

The story of Paul Fronczak has shaken the US as it became the second-longest cold case in US history. Still a baby, Paul was abducted from his parents and later found abandoned in a stroller in 1965. Initially, The Fronczaks were sure that they had found their lost child, but over time, doubt settled in. As Paul was getting older, the family noticed that he looked less and less like either of the Fronczaks and the family decided to order a DNA test.
But in 2012, a test concluded that the child was not the Fronczaks’ and Paul suddenly had no idea who he was. Paul was eventually able to track down his true identity of Jack and learned that both his parents had died. While the mystery did help Paul Jack discover who he was, he also learned that he had a twin sister known as Jill who remains missing to this day. Unfortunately, the Fronczaks still don’t know what became of their biological child either.

19. The Mysterious ‘Starchild Skull’ Came From A Human With Congenital Hydrocephalus

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Back in 1999, paranormalist and former Magnum, P.I. writer Lloyd Pye introduced the world to a misshapen skull he claimed as proof of extraterrestrial life. The so-called “Starchild skull” is child-sized and features an enlarged cranium, a flattened back, and no sinuses. Pye also claimed the skull’s teeth were much more worn down than a child’s would be, and that it was made of organic materials supposedly unknown to science. Pye believed the skull belonged to an alien-human hybrid with a human mother and extraterrestrial father, resembling the “little grey men” that were depicted by sci-fi author Whitley Strieber and the TV show The X-Files.

However, scientists who examined the Starchild skull didn’t agree. A dentist who examined the skull’s teeth concluded that it belonged to a child aged about 5 years old. A neurologist found that the skull’s deformations are consistent with congenital hydrocephalus, and DNA tests concluded the remains were entirely human in origin, not alien.