There are many mysteries in our world. Some eventually get solved, but many continue to stump experts and amateurs alike.
There is a place in Southern Peru that, even though it is a coastal city, rarely gets rain. It is divided into five provinces; Changuillo, El Ingenio, Marcona, Nazca, and Vista Alegre. The capital city, Nazca, was founded about 1500 years ago by the Nazca people. The main export was wine and brandy, as well as the unique jars in which the spirits were transported. The Nazca people built an impressive series of aqueducts to keep the grapes producing and for water to be supplied to the town which are still in use today. In between the towns of Nazca and Palpa, in about the year 500 AD, the Nazca people rearranged pebbles to reveal indentations in the ground that formed designs of people, flowers, trees, fish and birds, just to name a few. The unusual thing is, some of the figures take up nearly 1200 feet each and can only be seen from the air or partly from the tops of nearby hills. Others run between 190 feet and 450 feet. While archaeologists have figured out how they were formed, no one knows why. Some say the Nazca Lines were used in religious rituals, others believe they were a gift to the gods. Still, others claim the lines were indications of astronomy such as solstices and constellations.
Fortunately, the site has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is safe for the time being. Archaeologists and history scholars continue to examine the site and possibly someday will be able to solve the mysterious puzzle.
In 1885, Thomas Beale is said to have buried a treasure somewhere in Bedford County, Virginia and devised three cipher-texts, coded messages using numbers rather than letters as directions to where the treasure is located. Beale gave these cipher-texts to a local innkeeper and never came back. The first cipher-text containing the whereabouts of the treasure has yet to be solved, but the second, which details the treasure itself, has been revealed. The third, which also has never been solved, tells of the owners of the treasure and of their relatives. Beale promised his friend he would send the key to the puzzles but never did. Supposedly the treasure is composed of 2,019 pounds of gold, 5,719 pounds of silver mined in Colorado, and $13,000 worth of jewels in iron pots packed in a vault lined with stone. The American Cryptogram Association, along with other scholars, has declared the story a hoax, but that hasn’t stopped people from trying to solve the mystery.
The Mary Celeste
On the morning of December 13, 1872, the New York brigantine, Mary Celeste was spotted moving into the Bay of Gibraltar at the southernmost end of the Iberian Peninsula. It was owned by Benjamin S. Briggs, James H. Winchester, and Sylvester Goodwin. On this trip, Benjamin Briggs, his wife, his two-year-old daughter, and a crew of seven were headed for Genoa, Italy, carrying a cargo of alcohol that would be used in wine making.
Captain Briggs was known to be a capable sailor and a deeply religious man. When the ship was spotted, it was sailing out of control.
No one had received any type of distress calls nor answers to hails. When the ship was stopped and boarded neither the Briggs family or any of the crew was found. Everything looked normal, and the crew’s boots, smoking pipes, and plenty of food to complete the voyage were still there. The only things missing were the ships chronometer and sextant and one lifeboat. The mystery remains as to why an undamaged ship would be abandoned, with no clue as to the whereabouts of the occupants.
Jack the Ripper
Most everyone has heard of the London serial killer of prostitutes in the late 1800s. He left horribly mutilated bodies and sent letters to the press signing them “Jack the Ripper.” The murders were only in the Whitechapel area of London, an extremely impoverished and dangerous area, at a time when there was no public assistance, but caused terror and chaos throughout the city.
In a period of twelve weeks during the autumn of 1888, five women were killed including Mary Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Kelly. Scores of names as to the true identity of Jack the Ripper have been suggested.
Some believe he was a physician, others believe he was a member of the Freemasons, which seems highly unlikely. It has even been suggested that the consort of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert committed the murders, an absurd notion as he had been dead for many years. Although the police worked diligently to solve the murders, no one was ever arrested. To this day the identity of Jack the Ripper is unknown and remains a mystery.
Off the southeastern tip of Florida lies about 500,000 square miles of ocean called the Bermuda Triangle. It is an area where planes and ships have mysteriously disappeared. Christopher Columbus claimed to have seen a flame of fire in the area during his voyage to the New World in 1492. In 1909, Joshua Slocum was sailing alone from New England to South America and simply vanished while sailing through the area. In 1919, the USS Cyclops, a Navy cargo ship carrying more than 300 men and 10,000 tons of manganese ore, sank there. There was no distress call, and no debris has ever been found. In 1941, two similar ships disappeared as well. In 1945, five Navy bombers with 14 men aboard launched from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Flight 19, the plane of the squadron leader noticed his compass was malfunctioning, causing them to deviate from course. Eventually, the planes, unable to find their way ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean. The aircraft that was sent to rescue them also disappeared. Even though the Navy sent out a substantial rescue effort, no trace was found. In 1974, Charles Berlitz, a descendant of the creator of the foreign language instruction courses, published a book entitled The Bermuda Triangle, claiming that the legendary sunken city of Atlantis lies in this area and is the cause of the phenomenon. While deemed not credible by scientists, the book was a best seller, proving that everyone loves a mystery. No definitive answer has been offered by fiction or science as to the fate of any of these disappearances and the mystery persists.
The Loch Ness Monster
The largest body of fresh water in the United Kingdom is Loch Ness Lake in Scotland. It runs for about 22 miles and is about a mile and a half wide, with a depth of 750 feet. The depth rises and falls depending on the amount of rainfall in the area. It is believed that a huge salamander-like creature swims in the Loch and has been nicknamed “Nessie” by the locals.
Since 1871, hundreds of people have claimed to have seen the creature, and each sighting has had one thing in common – all have reported the creature having a hump looking like an upturned boat and a long body with flipper-like fins. In October of 1987, Adrian Shine and Darrell Laurence used Laurence’s newest sonar equipment technology to perform Operation Deepscan, the most comprehensive freshwater scan ever completed.
Of course, the attempt became a media circus but the researchers focused on their work and three very strong contacts were discovered at 256 feet deep to 590 feet deep for about two and a half minutes. Researchers reported that the contacts made were much larger and much deeper than any that would have been made of known aquatic inhabitants of the Loch. On the second attempt, nothing was found, including any stationary objects that may have been a cause for the first contacts. Many films and pictures have been taken of Nessie, but as cell phones were not yet being used, many were taken by home movie cameras, and the quality is not clear enough to prove anything. Many were taken as the creature was submerging; also not clear enough for a definite identification. Could ancient plesiosaurs have lived and bred in the Loch Ness? Another enduring mystery that is yet to be solved.
The Zodiac Letters
For almost a year in the late 1960s, the San Francisco area was terrorized by a killer who called himself “Zodiac.” While the killer claimed to have murdered thirty-seven people, only five murders have been confirmed. Not long after the first attack letters were received from the killer by Vallejo Times Herald, the San Francisco Chronicle, and The San Francisco Examiner, demanding that they be printed. The letters contained a confession, and each had a part of a 408-symbol cryptogram which allegedly revealed his identity. A week later, another letter was received by The San Francisco Examiner detailing the murders which have never been printed.
After another murder was committed, and another 340 character cryptogram was received. Letter and cards claiming to have been written by “Zodiac” were received until 1974, but only one of the cryptograms has been solved. The letter did not contain his identity, only ramblings that he was killing to create slaves for himself in the afterworld. The remaining cryptograms and the killer’s identity are still a mystery.
On the property belonging to the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, a sculptor, Jim Sanborn, established a work of art containing four encrypted messages. The sculpture, named “Kryptos,” was erected on November 3, 1990, and is made of four copper plates consisting of 865 cutout letters and 4 question marks. Several people including Jim Gillogly, a California computer scientist, CIA analyst David Stein, and Ken Miller of the NSA, were able to solve the first three parts, but even with hints from the sculptor, the fourth part has yet to be solved. Professional cryptologists, as well as computer analysts and qualified amateurs, are still working to address the fourth panel but have yet to discover the mysterious solution.
In Taos, an art community in north central New Mexico, a mysterious hum has been reported since the early 1990s. Only about two percent of the residents are able to hear it.
Equipment was set up by Professor Joe Mullins from the University of New Mexico, but he was unable to find anything conclusive.
Science has brushed off the occurrence claiming tinnitus, traffic noises or auditory hallucinations, but those who hear it insist that it is real. If so, the origins are unknown and are yet another mystery waiting to be solved.
In Nevada, a top secret facility called Area 51 is used by the United States Air Force. Because of the secrecy surrounding the base, many stories have arisen in both print and movies of its real purpose. Many UFO sightings have been reported in the area, leading some to suspect that perhaps aliens have been captured and kept at the site.
Others wonder if top secret military aircraft are being kept there. The entire area, including the air space, is off limits to all but military personnel with special clearance and the perimeter is guarded by closed circuit cameras including signage posted warning that deadly force will be used to protect the site. This only leads the public to wonder what really goes on at Area 51 and a desire to solve the mystery.
For several hundred years legends have been told of a large, hairy ape-like creature that roams the forest of the Pacific Northwest. Also known as Sasquatch, there have been many reported sightings of the ape-like creature, but most researchers claim that the sightings are mostly of bears. Melba Ketchum, a veterinarian from Texas, alleges that Big Foot is a “human relative that arose approximately 15,000 years ago as a hybrid cross of modern Homo sapiens with an unknown primate species,” and demanded that the government recognize the creature and protect it as indigenous to the area.
Several organizations such as Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization have been created to find and prove that Bigfoot does, indeed, exist.
While there are credible scientists that pursue the legend in hopes of finding proof, there are even more hoaxes perpetrated for fame or riches. In 2014, Rick Dyer claimed to have killed Bigfoot and took the body on tour earning close to $60,000. He later revealed that it was a hoax and the “body” was actually created by a toy company from foam, latex and camel hair. Until reliable proof can be produced, Bigfoot will endure as a mystery, EnkiVillage reported.
Big Cats in Australia
While lions, panthers, and pumas are not native to Australia, there have been hundreds of sightings and at least two kills of the big cats in the state of Victoria and near the city of Sydney. In 2003, a New South Wales government investigation admitted that the likelihood of big cats existing in the wild in Australia was very real. The mystery is – how did they get there? There are many theories offered including one that claims pumas were brought by American gold miners as mascots in the 1800s and were either released or escaped into the wild.
Others suggest some escaped from visiting circuses or were smuggled in by American soldiers during World War II. Another theory is that regular household type feral cats grew to unusually large proportions. Whatever the cause, these large cats are seen as a threat to populated areas because they have no natural predators in Australia.
We may never be able to solve the mystery of how these cats came to Australia, but it certainly has been proven that they exist there.