Nature is beautiful but it’s also a cruel mistress that can be scary, completely unpredictable and in some cases defy explanation. Although we get why the sky is blue, how the Grand Canyon formed and why birds poop on our heads (they hate us) here are some events of nature that continue to elude explanation.
1. Animal Migration
I’ll admit, I love road trips but I’m really bad at them. I tend to get lost a lot and I get sleepy 30 minutes in. I’ve splashed water on myself, I’ve stuck my head out the window like a dog, nothing works. Although I still can’t figure out how to stay alert on long trips in the car I am very thankful for GPS, but now I feel that I’m too reliant on them. Once I followed my GPS through a college campus, another time the GPS took me through a cemetery in nowheresville Pennsylvania at night, and that’s where I draw the line. I mean, take me to a college campus I may get a ticket, take me through a graveyard in the middle of the night? that’s some silent hill stuff! My point is I NEED a GPS especially on long trips, but have you ever noticed that many animals migrate thousands of miles across land and sea, and they never have a Garmin attached to their necks.
So How do animals make these long treks without getting lost? No one really knows, though there are many theories. For example, an article in The Independent that focused on pigeon migration mentioned that the birds navigate the Earth using visual landmarks or their sense of smell to determine their location. More bizarre-sounding theories include the concept that pigeons use magnetism to determine if they’re north or south of home; another is that the pigeons use morphic resonance, a theory by Rupert Sheldrake, to refer to what he calls the “the basis of memory in nature basically the idea that there are collective memories that are shared within species.
2. The Naga Fireballs
Every year, around late autumn on the night of the full moon at the end of the Buddhist Lent going back as far as anyone can remember. Hundreds of fireballs explode randomly out of Thailand’s Mekong River. This phenomenon is known as “Naga fireballs,” Locals believe the balls come from the breath of Naga, a mythical serpent that haunts the river. Many scientists believe that the fireballs are nothing more than pockets of methane bubbling up from the river, others argue that whatever is sailing through the air has mass, and “must have been propelled physically. So the question is, what is propelling these fireballs. You guys ever hear of a watermelon seed spitting contest? maybe the river serpents gather together every year for the annual Mekong River Fireball Spitting Contest.
3. The Tunguska Event
A ball of fire exploded in a remote area of Russia In June 1908, the explosion was so powerful it shook the ground and instantly flattening 770 square miles of forest. The blast reached 15 megatons of energy, about a thousand times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. Because this event occurred near a river called Tunguska, it was Known as the Tunguska event.
Researchers suggest that a meteor was to blame because there is a lake nearby and scientists believe that it was created by a meteor. But others say the lake was there before the event, so if not a meteor, then what causes the most powerful natural explosion in recent history.
4. Earthquake Lights
Earthquake lights are white or bluish flashes that occur right before a large earthquake and last for several seconds. These lights have been documented for hundreds of years, but it wasn’t until the 1960s, when people took pictures of this phenomenon during the Matsushiro earthquakes, that scientists started to take it seriously.
There are many theories about the origin of the lights, such as piezoelectric and frictional heating to gas emissions and electrokinetics. Recently scientists believe that the lights are caused by the natural electrical charge of rocks which are awakened by pre-earthquake elements.
5. Blue Jets and Red Sprites
Blue Jets and Red Sprits occur above clouds during a lightning storm and are only visible from space or an airplane. They basically looks like fireworks falling from the sky. Sprites are red most of the time and happen as high as 50 miles off the surface of the ground, while jets shoot directly out of the tops of storm clouds, sometimes traveling as far as 30 miles up into the Ionosphere.
Scientists think the phenomena has something to do with whatever is causing the lightning we see in every storm and that is basically all they know. The sprites seem to occur as a result of a lightning strike on the ground, but the jets seem to occur randomly.
6. Raining Animals
Throughout history, random things have been documented raining from the sky including Frogs, Fish, Worms, and even blood. The prevailing theory is that waterspouts or tornadoes scoop random things up like a whole lot of fish and then transport them sometimes hundreds of miles in the sky then rain them down.
But this theory does not explain why often only a single species is in the rain. Like if a waterspout sucked things up from a lake, it should not just be raining fish, it should be raining fish, turtles, frogs, lake monsters.
7. Spontaneous Human Combustion
Spontaneous Human Combustion or SHC means just that, it refers to when a person bursts into flame for no apparent reason.
The first known accounts of spontaneous human combustion date all the way back to 1641. More recently, cases of SHC have been suspected when officials have found corpses burned to ashes but the furniture surrounding them were completely undamaged. For example, an Irish coroner ruled that spontaneous combustion caused the 2010 death of 76-year-old Michael Faherty, whose badly burned body was discovered near a fireplace in a room with virtually no fire damage.
Many scientists dismiss the theory, because of course the human body is composed mostly of water and they argue that an undetected flame source such as a match or cigarette is the real culprit in suspected cases. Others claim that because it takes a temperature of around 570 degrees to burn a body to ashes, it’s impossible that the body would be the only thing that burns.
There are many theories of course that try to explain this phenomenon. Some say the victims are alcoholics and consumed so much alcohol that their blood became flammable, other say the combustion is caused by gamma rays.
8. Fairy circles
Fairy circles are strange formations of grass-less earth surrounded by grass. Almost perfect circles and researchers have no idea what causes them. What’s also strange is that these circles start off small and grow large and the circles lie regularly spaced from one another forming the same pattern across the landscape. They are commonly found in Namibia and parts of South Africa. Fairy circles vary 7 and 49 ft in diameter and since the 1970s, when researchers first started investigating the phenomenon, there has been no viable theory that was able to satisfy the scientific community.
There are some guesses that involve termites and patterns that arose naturally from competition between grasses. There is also the local belief that the fairy circles are footprints of the gods or made by a dragon that lives within the earth and I’m gonna go ahead and throw Colosseum arenas for little fairies into the discussion.
9. The Marfa Lights
The Marfa lights are mysterious glowing orbs that appear in the desert outside the West Texas town of Marfa.
The lights, which are roughly the size of basketballs and vary in color. reportedly hover, merge, split, twinkle, float or quickly dart around. There seems to be no way to predict when the lights will appear; they’re seen in various weather conditions, but only a dozen or so nights a year. And of cours, no one has been able to figure out what these lights are.
The first mention of the lights comes from 1883, when a cowhand Robert Reed Ellison claimed to have seen flickering lights one evening while driving a herd of cattle near Mitchell Flat. During World War II, pilots from nearby Midland Army Air Field tried to locate the source of the mysterious lights, but were unable to discover anything.
Possible causes of the lights have been attributed to cars, optical illusions, ghosts and of course aliens.