THIS MONTH, THE search for the lost pilot Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan got underway in Honolulu.
The disappearance of Earhart, Noonan and their Lockheed Electra plane into thin air during an attempt to circumnavigate the globe 75 years ago is one of the world’s most enduring mysteries.
But what other mysteries have people scratching their heads, concocting conspiracy theories or spending years researching?
The Marie Celeste
The story of the Marie Celeste, a merchant ship that was found in the Atlantic Ocean, apparently abandoned by its crew, is one that has haunted people for many years. On 4 December 1872, the 12-year-old ship was found by the Dei Gratia to be empty drifting on the ocean. Despite the fact there was plenty of food and drink on board, the seven-strong crew (and one lifeboat) were gone.
There have been many attempted explanations, from extraterrestrial visitors to the Bermuda Triangle phenomenon, while at the time it was reported that pirates most likely murdered those on board. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once wrote about the Marie Celeste, and it is his tales of untouched breakfasts and cups of tea that people often think of when this ship is mentioned, even though his description was fictionalised.
(AP/AP/Press Association Images)
Spanning a triangular area between Puerto Rico, Florida and Bermuda, the Bermuda Triangle is also rather scarily known as the Devil’s Triangle. Why? Well ships and planes have gone missing here in strange circumstances, and some suggest that UFOs or extraterrestrial beings have been the cause. An article called Sea Mystery at Our Back Door told the story of a number of planes and ships that disappeared in the area, and since then the triangle has captured the public’s imagination.
Some suggest that the stories about the area are greatly exaggerated, and that magnetic anomalies may be behind the strange compass activity reported there. Whatever the truth, even the mention of the Bermuda Triangle is sure to send a shiver up some people’s spines. After all, most of us love a good mystery.
(AP Photo/Eric Gay)
The rather strange looking animal pictured above is a Chupacabra – at least, that was according to Phyllis Canion, who found it outside her ranch already dead. She believed it was the mythical bloodsucking creature, of which a physical example has never been found. After DNA tests, it was discovered to be a coyote… But that doesn’t mean the chupacabra doesn’t exist, eh?
‘Chupacabra’ means ‘goat sucker’ and sightings were first reported in Puerto Rico. Those who believe in him say that he attacks livestock – and drinks their blood. Whether it’s a legend or not, the story is quite fascinating. Then there are the scientists who say that a parasite is responsible for turning coyotes into mange-ridden animals, which in turn makes them look like the goat-suckers. One thing is clear: if you ever do see an animal that looks like this, just run.
(S&G/S&G and Barratts/EMPICS Sport)
Shergar was an incredible racehorse who won the 1981 Derby by 10 lengths, a record distance in the 20th century, and was owned by the billionaire (and spiritual leader) Aga Khan. In 1983 he was kidnapped from Ballymany Stud in Kildare by gun-wielding masked men who demanded a £2 million ransom for him. His body was never recovered but it is believed he was shot to death, according to the Telegraph. The fact that his body has never been found has inspired books and films, and many hope that one day his remains will be uncovered. Until then, his legend lives on.
The Dyatlov Pass Accident
(Wikipedia – photo developed from rolls of film found at the site)
What happened to nine inexperienced cross-country skiers when they went on a two-week ski trek in January 1959? Well, they reached the slopes of the Kholat-Syakhl mountain after getting delayed (possibly by bad weather) at a place called Dyatlov Pass in the Soviet Union. So they set up camp there… but never returned home. The date they were due to return was 12 February (at the latest), so when they didn’t get back, a search got underway a few days later. Their camp was found abandoned, with tents torn down and slashed open from the inside.
(Wikipedia, taken by those who discovered the site)
Their bodies were found around 1.5km away, semi-clothed, and showing the effects of hypothermia. So far, so tragic. And very mysterious. Then add the fact that four of the bodies were found at another site, one of the skiiers’ tongues was missing, and injuries were found on a number of their bodies, and you have the making of a very strange scene. There are many theories (paradoxical undressing being the most plausible one, with UFOs and radioactivity being far less plausible) and because the government allegedly ensured that there wasn’t much discussion about what happened, no one knows the truth. Or do they?
You can try to read the Voynich Manuscript, but you won’t be able to understand it. That’s because the early 15th century manuscript is written in what is thought to be an encrypted ciphertext – and even professional cryptographers and codebreakers haven’t been able to interpret it. It is thought to be a herbal manuscript and features drawings of planets, figures, what are thought to be bodily organs, and apothecary jars. Not a huge amount is known about its history, except that it first came to people’s attention after it was bought in Rome in 1912. University of Arizona analysed it in 2009 and determined that it was made between 1404 and 1438. But it is still not clear who wrote it… and some suspect that it is a hoax.
Jack the Ripper
Who was Jack the Ripper? No one knew back in 1888, when he killed a number of women who worked as prostitutes living in slums in London. The grisly murders – the victims’ throats were cut and internal organs sometimes removed – meant that those living in the Whitechapel area became terrified of the mysterious murderer, and the cases got huge coverage in the media. Some letters, purporting to be from the Ripper himself, were sent to police, but none led to a suspect. No one was ever charged with the crimes, and the mystery has gone on to inspire many works of fiction. There are some theories as to who the Ripper may have been, but one thing is true – he never paid the price for his crimes.
What other mysteries fascinate you?