As climate change continues to take its toll on the planet, ice patches continue to melt. With that, scientists are coming across some amazing discoveries buried in ice. While some of them are giving us insights into our past, others have us thinking about our future.
1. Frozen Lighthouse
Being in the northern region of the United States, Michigan is known for getting quite cold during the winter. According to the Lansing State Journal, Michigan hit minus 51 degrees at its all time coldest. With that in mind, Lake Michigan freezing over isn’t something that’s hardly out of the question. And when it does, the lighthouses surrounding the lake often follow not too far behind.
Pictured here, is the St. Joseph lighthouse which was built in 1844. Amid the many lighthouses surrounding the lake, it is by far one of the most beautiful. Completely covered in a thick layer of ice, the iconic St. Joseph lighthouse looks like a winter palace fit for Frozen.
2. Yuka The Woolly Mammoth
While many Woolly Mammoths have been discovered over the years, one particular mammoth named Yuka is a unique case. When she was excavated in 2010, she went down in history as being one of the most well preserved mammoths ever dug up. The 28,000-year-old animal was in such good condition that they were even able to extract cells from her.
Japanese scientists have no plans of letting Yuka wind up in a museum. Since her discovery, scientists have been working on cloning the mammoth. Kei Muyamoto, one of the researchers has disclosed to the Japanese news outlet Nikkei, that Yuka is a “significant step toward bringing mammoths back from the dead.”
3. Gator’s Alive In Ice
Not every animal that gets trapped in ice is doomed to an eternal frozen slumber. Sometimes getting frozen in a block of ice is an annual occurrence that just comes with the environment. Such is the case for alligators living in North Carolina.
The Charlotte Observer reported that the gators there seemed to sense that the lake was going to freeze over and stuck their noses above the surface. Thankfully they don’t just sit there and wait for the cold season to end, these creatures delve into a state of brumation, which is a reptilian version of hibernation. George Howard, the manager at Swamp Park in North Carolina, discovered 19 of the park’s gators in this state back in January 2019.
4. Planes Discovered in Ice
Although it may have started seem as though most treasures frozen beneath ice are animal, oftentimes scientists discover pieces of technology from a bygone era. Planes, boats and other things that had gone missing have all been discovered after decades. Pictured below is a military plane that crashed while on its way to Anchorage, Alaska back in 1952.
According to the Anchorage Daily News, the plane crashed into Alaska’s Glacier Colony and all too sadly took 52 passengers with it. Due to the conditions surrounding the glacier, rescue workers couldn’t get to the wreckage. It took fifty years for the glacier to melt enough for rescue workers to finally reach the plane.
5. A Fish Eating a Fish
In 2017, National Geographic ran a piece about two Indiana brothers who made quite an interesting discovery on the surface of Lake Wawasee. The brothers had found two fish frozen in ice, but, one was about the eat the other. They took a photo of the phenomenon and posted it on Instagram — it went viral almost instantly. One thing that bothered the brothers though was that many people claimed it was fake.
With that, the two brothers decided to return to the lake and chisel the two fish out of the ice. According to the National Geographic article, there are many theories surrounding how something like this happened. One of them is that a fisherman threw the fish back into the water with the bait still its its mouth because it was too small.
6. A Dinosaur Mummy
Back in 2011 National Geographic covered a story on the discovery of the best preserved dinosaur of all time — meet the nodosaur. This 110 million year-old plant-eater was inhabiting what is now western Canada. The conditions of its icy burial allowed scientists to get an amazing look at how this dinosaur looked while still alive.
Heavy- machine operator Shawn Funk found the specimen while at work at the Millennium Mine. Already relatively accustomed to finding fossilized wood, he never expected to run into a dinosaur, let alone one that looked so fresh. It has been concluded that its remarkable condition had much to do with its watery demise in a river and likely being washed out to a lake which was later frozen over.
7. A Bird’s Last Dive
According to nature specialist site RSPB, wintertime can be incredibly difficult for birds, especially if they decide to take a deep water dive for a fishy snack. After taking a swift dive into a surface of water, this bird found itself caught up in a deep freeze.
This means that after only a few seconds in the icy water his little body had completely frozen, down to the bone. Alas, this fate is especially common among the kingfisher, a sterling specimen that is found in northern Bavaria. More than a small handful of kingfishers are found frozen in ice blocks throughout the winter season.
8. Ice-Age Puppies
According to a site specializing in physics called PHYS, it was in 2016 when a group of hunters in the Russian region of Yakutia were searching for mammoth tusks but found something else instead. The group found a puppy’s nose popping out of some permafrost. This led to the discovery of a pair of 12,460-year-old puppies in perfect condition.
Finding such old puppies and in such amazing shape has never before been reported. The head of exhibitions at the Mammoth Museum of the North-Eastern Federal University, Sergei Fyodorov, said the following, “To find a carnivorous mammal intact with skin, fur and internal organs—this has never happened before in history.”
9. Copper Arrowheads
Discovered in an ice patch were these astounding copper tools and weapons. What’s most impressive about these is that they come from an ancient North American civilization that clearly had a good understanding of metallurgy. While the exact tribe isn’t known, these were found in present-day Wisconsin and are estimated to date back to the late archaic period.
What made the arrowhead even more remarkable is that it was barbed and produced much like our modern day fishhooks. This means that they were made specifically for easy hunting. Scientists regard these tools as being highly advanced technology for a period when most people were still fashioning their tools out of wood.
10. Forests From The Past
Glaciers don’t move out of the way for anything and will usually crush and absorb everything in their path. That means that rocks, trees, dirt and a variety of other debris can be overtaken by a glacier and find themselves buried in ice. Scientists have named this phenomenon moraine.
When it comes to forests, moraine can sometimes act like a cushion and will glide over entire forests without uprooting all the trees. Ultimately, when the glacier finally melts it can reveal a forest that may be thousands of years old and is still, astonishingly, fully intact as it was in centuries past.
11. Mummy Juanita
Back in September of 1995, Johan Reinhard, an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society was in Peru climbing Mt. Ampato. During the climb he came across a wrapped bundle. He would discover that the bundle held the frozen remains of a well preserved Inca mummy dubbed Juanita.
According to HuffPost, studies concluded that the remains of the mummy was over 500-years-old and would have been alive and thriving around 1440. Juanita met her fate at the age of 12 when she was chosen to be an offering to the gods. In Inca culture, this was considered by parents to be one of the highest honors.
12. Yellowstone Spears
As ice patches continue to melt away they continue to reveal some amazing discoveries from the earliest days of humanity. One of the more remarkable frozen finds came out of Yellowstone National Park, a forest that spans Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
For many years signs of life couldn’t be found within certain regions of the massive park. However, an archaeological dig revealed a spear that reportedly dates back 10,300 years. These spears were likely for hunting the bison, elk and wolves that roamed the area back in those days. The discovery was especially significant for revealing that humans did indeed inhabit the colder parts of the country all those centuries ago.
13. Otzi Man
5,300 years ago, a man was taking part in a fight for his life in the alps between Italy and Austria. It was a fight he wouldn’t win. According to the Dailymail, he met his demise via an arrow and was somehow undiscovered for 5,300 years. It was only on December 19, 1991 that his body was found by some German hikers.
Since his discovery, scientists have made a number of impressive discoveries about Otzi Man. National Geographic revealed that a DNA study concluded that Otzi has up to 19 genetic relatives living in Austria today. They were also able to determine that his last meal was pollen and ibex meat.
14. A Woolly Rhino
These days we recognize rhinoceroses as hairless animals that roam the plains of many African nations. However, some 10,000 years ago rhinos with fur were roving around much colder regions. According to National Geographic, a Woolly Rhino was discovered in 2015 in Sakha, Russia, which ranks as one of the coldest areas in Russia.
Since they couldn’t determine the animal’s gender they decided to name it something unisex, ultimately opting for Sasha. By looking at its teeth, they were able to gauge that Sasha was actually very young when he/she passed on. The gargantuan animal was approximately only seven months old.
15. Sabre-Tooth Tigers
While today’s lions and tigers seem pretty wild and fierce, the ancient sabre-tooth tiger could have put all these beasts to shame. Sadly, global heating and hunting eventually played a strong role in wiping these creatures off the map. According to Live Science, these creatures last walked the earth about 10,000 years ago.
Up until recently, Sabre-tooth tiger remains hadn’t yet been discovered in northern regions. While Idaho held the record for being the northernmost area where sabre-tooth tiger fossils were found, things have recently changed. Canadian news website CTVNews reported in October of 2019 that a sabre-tooth fossil was found in Alberta, Canada. The bone is thought to be anywhere between a whopping 35,000 – 40,000 years old.
16. Atlatl Darts
One thing that is quite commonly found frozen in ice, and in time, is a variety of ancient weaponry. One of the most interesting weapons found is the atlatl dart. The long throwing spear is one of the oldest forms of weaponry constructed by modern humans. The atlatl dart is considered by some to be the great-grandfather of the bow and arrow and even the sword.
A perfectly preserved atlatl dart was found in a melting patch of ice in the Rocky Mountains as recently as 2010. This was a weapon that spanned thousands of years and was reportedly used by Aztec warriors against the Spanish conquistadors.
17. Ancient Bacteria
People might not expect to learn that one of the more interesting discoveries in ice is ancient bacteria. Scientists have actually discovered bacteria that was eight-million-years old. According to BBC News, as the world continues to heat up permafrost soils are melting and bringing to light viruses and bacteria that have been otherwise dormant. Alarmingly enough, these diseases spring back to life.
During a 2016 heatwave in Siberia’s Yamal Peninsula in the Arctic Circle, an anthrax infected reindeer carcass that was frozen in permafrost had thawed. The ancient anthrax was then released into the water, soil and the food supply. Sadly, 2,000 deer in the area became infected and even some humans.
18. Caribou Droppings
One consistent ice patch finding that has scientists astounded is animal droppings. While it may not sound like anything to get too excited about, a lot can be learned from these dropping. A single stool sample could give us an inside look into an animal’s habits, weather it was herbivorous or carnivorous and how the area where the dropping was found might have looked like thousands of years ago.
For example, the study of some caribou droppings has led scientists to discover what the ancient caribou ate, where it found the food and even was able to tell how many miles its grazing territory reached. One may not imagine it possible, but feces can really bring an animal to life.
19. Willow Bow
Receding ice patches have revealed another impressive weapon from time past — the willow bow. This bow wasn’t used in ancient wars, but was more of a hunting tool used for elk and reindeer. The first artifact ever found by Canadian ice patch archaeologist Tom Andrews was actually a wool bow going back 340 years.
During an interview with Radio Canada International, Andrews explained why such a find was so exciting. “And to pick it up and hold it and to realize that somebody had the appropriate knowledge and skills to be able to select, not any kind of wood, but just the particular kind of wood that’s used in that arrow shaft, and then to fashion it to such a skillful level using nothing more than stone tools, it’s quite remarkable.”
20. Frozen Fox
Animals being discovered in layers of ice are often assumed to be creatures that have been long extinct. However, this isn’t actually always the case. The majority of frozen animals that are discovered are usually quite contemporary. This fox isn’t exactly a rare site for people who live in woodland areas.
This particular fox was discovered in 2017 by a hunter named Franz Stehle in southwestern Germany in the top reaches of the Danube river. He told BBC News that this wasn’t the first time he’s seen an animal frozen in a block of ice either. He’s also spotted a frozen deer and a frozen wild boar.
21. Frozen Moose
In 2016, Global News released a story about Brad Webster, a middle school social studies teacher who found two moose who were evidently in the middle of a fight when they became encased in ice. The feuding mammals were found outside of a village on Alaska’s west coast.
Webster reported that in 50 years of hunting in the area, he had never seen anything quite like it. He further explained that the two moose were likely fighting over a female when they tumbled into the ice water. He later reported that he and a friend returned to the site and took chunks of moose meat for dog food and took the heads for mounting on his wall.
22. A Squid Out of Water
One of the biggest attractions at the Melbourne Aquarium in Australia is their 23-foot squid which is frozen in a giant block of ice. While the iced squid isn’t exactly ancient or extinct, it is still a very impressive animal. According to Zee News, these squids which are usually found on the lower levels of the sea, have enough power to fend off a sperm whale.
The Melbourne Aquarium isn’t the only establishment in Australia that boasts a giant squid in its collection. In 2014, ABC Radio Brisbane reported that a giant squid that was discovered in a block of ice was thawed out and put on display at the Queensland Museum. Double the giant squids, double the fun.
23. Frozen Frog
One might assume that frogs migrate for the winter, but we’re here to debunk that misinformation. According to National Geographic some aquatic frogs actually go through a freeze and thaw cycle. Most don’t get caught right in the middle of lake like the one in the picture, but more likely take shelter and hibernate under some brush before freezing with their surroundings.
It has also been speculated that studying these frogs can possibly pose a great benefit for all of humanity, especially in terms of organ donations. When it comes to heart or kidney transplants, doctors are often racing against the clock. Putting these organs on ice for an extended period of time, thawing them and still restoring full functionality could make for a major medical advancement.
24. Frozen Donkeys
According to the Turkish news station DHA, these poor donkeys were found frozen in time in the rural village Siverek in southeastern Turkey. The region experiences some pretty harsh winters and any animals left outside are almost sure to be frozen solid.
The donkeys were discovered in a pack of five and were huddled together in ice. When rescue workers arrived some of the donkeys were frozen to the point of not being able to move at all and had to be carried away. Luckily for these donkeys, they were taken to an animal shelter and all managed to survive their fight against the cold.
25. Viking Tools
In 2018, ArsTechnica reported that climate change in Norway’s highest mountain passes has revealed artifacts once belonging to vikings. Freed from melting ice patches were skis from Viking Age traders, Neolithic arrows and clothing dating back to the Bronze age.
These well preserved artifacts are said to have been left by travelers over the course of approximately 6,000 years. These tools also tell a lot about how the vikings lived in their time. One of the most impressive artifacts found was a viking reindeer trap consisting of many sticks bound together. If shaken, they would have made a noise that would attract a reindeer.
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