10 most mysterious discoveries made in the eternal ice of the Arctic and Antarctic

Kane Khanh | Archeaology
August 4, 2023

Whether it’s traces of extraterrestrials or unexplained natural phenomena, the Arctic regions of eternal cold continue to disturb the minds of researchers and theorists.

With global climate change, the eternal ice of the North and South poles of the Earth is gradually melting, and the ancient glaciers give us new surprises every year.

10 most mysterious discoveries made in the eternal ice of the Arctic and Antarctic 1
Global View of the Antarctic and Arctic. © Public Domain

Some of the discoveries become delightful clues to the mysteries of the human past, return to us objects lost in time or tell about incredible anomalies that even the most famous scientists in the world are unable to explain.

Recently, humanity has been increasingly directing its gaze into space, but there are still many unexplored corners on Earth, and one of such places, rich in enchanting secrets, is the Arctic Circle and Antarctica. The eternal ice continues to melt, and this process allows for incredible discoveries, which can be as delightful, mysterious or even terrifying.

The ruthless north can be a very formidable and intimidating place, because we still don’t know so much about it. Scientists and conspiracy theorists constantly argue and ridicule each other for their differences of opinion on most of the mysteries of the Arctic. Whether it’s traces of alien civilizations or unexplained natural phenomena, regions of eternal cold continue to disturb the minds of researchers and theorists, struggling to unravel the most interesting discoveries that emerge from under the ice with enviable consistency.

Perhaps we will not get answers to all our questions soon, and most of the secrets of the North will remain unsolved, but this is not a reason to close our eyes to them. Here is a selection of 15 of the most incredible, eerie and amazing discoveries made in the Arctic and Antarctica in recent years.

1| Melting of eternal ice can provoke new viral epidemics
10 most mysterious discoveries made in the eternal ice of the Arctic and Antarctic 2
Grave stones in the snow © Wikimedia Commons

Global climatic changes have long been the reason for the intensified melting of the polar ice. The size of the glaciers of the Arctic Ocean decreases more and more every summer. As a result, due to unusually warm weather, melting glaciers are releasing microbes that have hibernated for centuries.

In August 2016, an unexpected outbreak of anthrax killed a 12-year-old boy and hospitalized 72 villagers. The cause of the epidemic was the contamination of local groundwater with the cadaveric juices of thawed deer, who had once died from this dangerous infection. The Siberians suffered because all the drinking water in the village was poisoned.

And here is another precedent – in Norway, the bodies of 6 young men who died in 1918 from the Spanish flu were found, and a perfectly preserved virus was found in the blood of the deceased. Among experts, there is concern that the frozen graves of smallpox victims in the future will also cause outbreaks of the deadly virus.

2| These puppies are 12,000 years old

10 most mysterious discoveries made in the eternal ice of the Arctic and Antarctic 3
A researcher at the Yakutsk Mammoth Museum dissects the remains of a puppy found in Yakutia. © Scanpix

In 2001, researchers who went to the northeast of Yakutia in the hope of finding the remains of ancient mammoths there, found there perfectly preserved remains of puppies from the Ice Age. Five years later, Sergei Fedorov, an employee of the World Mammoth Museum at Northeastern Federal University, went to the site of the discovery of the ancient puppy and found not one, but two well-preserved bodies of animals from the Ice Age.

Frozen puppies can theoretically help scientists find out when and where exactly dogs split into a separate subspecies of wolves and became the first tame animals in human history. The study of the finds showed that the puppies died at the age of about 3 months, and they died, most likely, having fallen into an avalanche.

Scientists are going to use the remains of discovered animals for research on the chronology of domestication of this species, because so far in the scientific community there is still no consensus about the timing and place where dogs were first domesticated by humans.

3| The secret base of the Nazis in the Arctic

10 most mysterious discoveries made in the eternal ice of the Arctic and Antarctic 4
Abandoned Base In The Arctic. © Wikimedia Commons

In October 2016, Russian scientists discovered a secret Nazi base in the Arctic. An object called Schatzbraber or “Treasure Hunter” was found on the island of Alexandra Land, and it was built about a year after the German invasion of Russia.

Apparently, the base was completely empty in 1944, when Nazi scientists poisoned themselves with polar bear meat. The second time people appeared here as much as 72 years later. Russian polar explorers discovered about 500 different artifacts at the base, including rusty bullets and documents from the Second World War, all of which were hidden in bunkers for many years. The base has been kept in excellent condition due to extremely low temperatures.

There are versions that the object was created to search for some ancient relics and sources of power, in the existence of which Adolf Hitler himself believed. However, more skeptical experts believe that the secret base provided the Nazis with information about weather conditions, which could give Germany significant advantages in planning the movement of its troops, ships and submarines. The Russians are now using this island to build their own military base.

4| Ancient giant virus

10 most mysterious discoveries made in the eternal ice of the Arctic and Antarctic 5
An ultrathin section of a Pithovirus particle in an infected Acanthamoeba castellanii cell observed by transmission electron microscopy with enhancement (Julia Bartoli and Chantal Abergel, IGS and CNRS-AMU) © Wikimedia Commons

In 2014, in the eternal ice of Siberia, researchers discovered a virus called Pithovirus, which had rested in the cold untouched for almost 30,000 years, and it turned out to be a truly gigantic non-cellular infectious agent. The find is recognized as unique, because Pithovirus is the largest representative of viruses known to modern science.

In addition, the virions found in the Arctic are genetically much more complex than conventional viruses. Pitovirus contains 500 genes. By the way, discovered in 2013, Pandoravirus, now recognized as the second largest virus on the planet, has as many as 2,500 genes. For comparison, HIV contains only 12 genes. Even more creepy, after 30,000 years of hibernation, the giant virion is still active and capable of infecting amoeba cells.

Many scientists believe that it is extremely difficult to become infected with this prehistoric virus today, although under optimal conditions such a danger is still possible. For example, if you find the body of a person who has died from this infection. Such a scenario is highly unlikely, but the very idea that unknown and potentially dangerous microorganisms are hiding in the eternal ice, awaiting their discovery day, makes some experts worry in earnest.

5| Gravity anomaly found in Antarctica under the ice sheet

10 most mysterious discoveries made in the eternal ice of the Arctic and Antarctic 6
Gravity Signals © Ohio State University

In December 2016, scientists discovered a huge object hidden under the eternal ice of Antarctica. The discovery was made in the Wilkes Land area, and it is an anomalous area with a diameter of about 300 meters, occurring at a depth of approximately 823 meters. The find was called the Wilkes Land gravitational anomaly, and it was discovered in a crater with a diameter of 500 kilometers thanks to observations from NASA satellites in 2006.

Many researchers speculate that the huge anomaly is all that remains of a giant prehistoric asteroid. It was probably 2 times (or, according to other sources, 6 times) larger than the asteroid, due to which the dinosaurs once became extinct. Researchers also believe that it was this celestial body that caused the global catastrophe that provoked the Permian-Triassic extinction 250 million years ago, when 96% of marine life and about 70% of land creatures died.

As always, conspiracy theorists are of a different opinion. Many of them believe that once this crater was either an underground base of aliens, or a secret refuge of the fallen angels from the Bible, or even a portal to the inner part of the Earth, where there is a separate world (the hypothesis of a hollow Earth).

6| The mysterious Arctic civilization

10 most mysterious discoveries made in the eternal ice of the Arctic and Antarctic 7
The puzzle of the Siberians Mummy a child from an unknown Arctic civilization. © Siberian Times

In 2015, 29 kilometers south of the Arctic Circle, scientists discovered traces of a mysterious medieval civilization. Despite the fact that the find was made in the region of Siberia, archaeologists have established that this people was related to Persia.

The remains were wrapped in furs (presumably the skins of a bear or wolverine), birch bark, and covered with copper objects. In permafrost conditions, bodies in such a “wrapper” literally mummified, and therefore perfectly preserved to this day. In total, at the site of the medieval site, researchers found 34 small graves and 11 bodies.

Initially, it was believed that only men and children were buried there, but in August 2017, scientists discovered that among the mummies there is also a body that once belonged to a woman. Scientists nicknamed her the Polar Princess. Researchers believe that this girl belonged to the high class, since she is so far the only representative of the fair sex discovered during these excavations. Work with artifacts is still ongoing, so it is possible that there are still many amazing discoveries ahead of us.

7| Mystery of the warships HMS Terror and HMS Erebus

10 most mysterious discoveries made in the eternal ice of the Arctic and Antarctic 8
HMS Erbus Wreckage. © Wikimedia Commons

The bomber ships HMS Terror and HMS Erebus were re-equipped specifically for the infamous missing Arctic expedition led by Sir John Franklin in 1845-1847. Both ships under the command of Franklin set off on a voyage through the unexplored regions of the Far North, but in the area of ​​the Canadian territories they were captured by ice, and none of the 129 crew members, including the captain himself, never returned home.

In 1981-1982, new expeditions were undertaken, the purpose of which was to explore the islands of King William and Beechey (King William Island, Beechey Island). There, scientists found the bodies of some of the members of the Franklin expedition, perfectly preserved to this day thanks to the process of natural mummification. According to forensic experts, the cause of death of these polar explorers was poisoning with poor-quality canned food, tuberculosis and severe weather conditions incompatible with life. As a result of the examination of the remains, the experts also concluded that the members of the Franklin expedition at some point literally went crazy from exhaustion and even began to eat each other ― suspicious cuts and serifs were found on their bodies, evidence in favor of cannibalism.

Then, on September 12, 2014, an expedition in the Victoria Strait area discovered the wreckage of the HMS Erebus, and exactly 2 years later (September 12, 2016), members of the Arctic Research Foundation found the HMS Terror, and almost perfectly condition.

8| Unidentified sounds emitted from the bottom of the Arctic Ocean

10 most mysterious discoveries made in the eternal ice of the Arctic and Antarctic 9
Arctic © Pxhere

In 2016, near the Eskimo settlement of Igloolik, the territory of Nunavut (Igloolik, Nunavut), in the area of ​​the Canadian Arctic, strange sounds were recorded, coming straight from the bottom, and frightening even wild animals living in these waters.

A team of scientists, sent by the Canadian military, had to determine the source of the sounds, and find out if a foreign submarine swam into the state territory. But in the end, all they found was a flock of whales and 6 walruses. After making sure that the suspicious signals did not pose any danger, the military curtailed the operation and left the site.

The origin of the mysterious sounds still remains unknown, but adherents of conspiracy theories believe in several fantastic versions at once, including messages from the inhabitants of the mythical Atlantis, signals from an underwater base of alien creatures, or even the voices of giant deep-sea animals, about which science has not yet known anything.

9| Arctic sinkholes

10 most mysterious discoveries made in the eternal ice of the Arctic and Antarctic 10
Sink holes on glaciers are called moulins. A hiker peers into a massive moulin on Snowbird Glacier, in the Talkeetna Mountains of Alaska. More such sinkholes have recently been discovered in the Arctic region. © Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Mysterious craters have been appearing in Siberia for a long time. One of the largest such craters was discovered in the 1960s, and it was named the Batagayka crater. The funnel expands every year by about 15 meters in diameter. In addition, new craters began to appear on the eastern coast of the Yamal Peninsula. For example, on the morning of June 28, 2017, local reindeer herders noticed flames and columns of smoke near the village of Seyakha. In the same place, the researchers discovered 10 new Arctic craters.

The thundering explosion was actually due to global warming. Eternal ice has recently been melting more and more actively, and because of this, previously sealed methane reserves are released from the ground here and there, which provokes the appearance of new failures.

But what about without fantastic versions of conspiracy theorists? In the case of funnels, conspiracy theorists also make some pretty interesting suggestions. For example, they believe that the craters are the former bases of frozen UFOs that periodically leave the Earth, leaving behind mysterious holes in the frozen soil. Another common version says that arctic craters are the gateway to the other world.

10| Finding the missing ghost ship HMS Thames

10 most mysterious discoveries made in the eternal ice of the Arctic and Antarctic 11
HMS Thames © Wikimedia Commons

In August 2016, near the village of Goroshikha, south of the Arctic Circle, the abandoned British steamer HMS Thames was discovered, believed to have sunk back in 1877. The ship was found by two researchers from the Russian Geographical Society in the area of ​​the Northern Sea Route. This route was very popular among polar travelers in the early 19th century, but sailing along it often proved unsuccessful until the early 20th century.

The vessel was built to explore the Gulf of Ob and the Yenisei River, and to pave the best trade route to the shores of Russia. The crew abandoned this vessel after wintering on the Yenisei coast, as HMS Thames was thoroughly frozen over during the absence of the crew.

The locomotive was dismantled and sold in parts, if possible, and after that its crew, led by Captain Joseph Wiggins (Joseph Wiggins), returned home to the UK. Agree, there is something eerie and sad in the discovery of the remains of a ship that has been drifting across the northern seas over the past 140 years..