Mysteries are woven into the fabric of civilizations around the world. The creepy ones are spoken about in hushed tones. The funny ones are laughed over around the dinner table. Lengthy articles are written about them and heated discussions arise because of them. And perhaps the best of all mysteries are the historic ones that remain unsolved. Those that occurred when built-in cameras in smart phones and instant posts on social media were still years, if not decades, in the making…
8 The Houston gargoyle
In 1986, NASA employee Frank Shaw, left his office late one evening and walked briskly to his car. He had worked a long shift and was anxious to get home. But all thoughts of home flew from his mind when he looked up at the NASA buildings and saw a black figure perching on one of its corners. Afterwards Shaw recalled the figure resembling a humanoid creature with a something like a cape wrapped over its shoulders. In his shocked state, Shaw thought it may have been a gargoyle. He also claimed to have seen two massive wings protruding from the its sides.
Eventually arriving home, Shaw told his family what he had seen and that the ‘gargoyle’ had stared directly at him. When the winged creature took flight, Shaw had run to his vehicle and drove off in terror.
Naturally most were sceptic of Shaw’s tale, but his family rallied behind him. However, they did warn him to keep his sighting a secret from his bosses so as to not be labelled ‘insane’. As time went by, Shaw kept pondering over what he had seen and eventually built up enough courage to tell his supervisor, despite his family’s advice. To Shaw’s great surprise, his supervisor proceeded to tell him that other employees had experienced similar sightings. A file on the creature had also been opened after the corpses of two resident NASA German Shepherds were found mutilated in the same location the ‘gargoyle’ had been spotted.
Over the years, no new sightings of the creature have made the headlines. What exactly did Frank Shaw and those before him see at the NASA buildings? That remains a mystery.
7 The Kaimanawa Wall
In the Kaimanawa State Forest stands a mysterious structure known simply as the Kaimanawa Wall. Alternative historian, Barry Brailsford, caused an uproar in 1996 when he claimed the wall pre-dates Maori colonization by around 1200 years. He also claimed the wall was man-made, because it consists of ignimbrite and its sculpted surfaces seem to have been shaped by human hands. Had these claims been accepted as truth, it would have meant serious financial and political implications for Maori tribes in New Zealand.
If the wall is indeed as old as 2000 years, an old claim from the Waitaha would be proved as true. The Waitaha have long claimed that their people settled in NZ before the Maori tribes got there. This theory goes directly against the long-standing belief that archaeological evidence shows the first Maori people arrived between 1250 and 1300 followed by more. Local tribes in the Kaimanawa region believe that the wall is no more than a natural formation eroded by weather over many years.
Another theory about the wall has it that the wall is probably not even a hundred years old and is the last standing reminder of what used to be a sawmill. Geologist, Dr Peter Wood, stomped on this theory by stating that he believed the wall was formed by an ignimbrite sheeting cooling process and that the stones were more than 300,000 years old. The government instituted a ban to the site after these findings, effectively prohibiting any further assessments. While theories remain, any conclusive proof of the wall’s age and origin remains elusive.
6 Swissair Flight 111 valuables
On 2 September 1998, Swissair Flight 111 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean roughly 8 kilometres from Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia. The accident killed all 229 passengers and crew onboard the McDonnell Douglas MD-11. It took four years to complete the search and rescue, recovery and investigation which ultimately led to the conclusion that flammable material in the plane’s structure allowed an onboard fire to spread beyond control.
Sometime after the crash, it emerged that the plane was carrying a Picasso painting, almost 50kg in cash as well as 5kg of jewels including a diamond from the American Museum of Natural History in New York. None of these were ever recovered. For 1 year after the accident an exclusion zone extending 2 kilometres was set up around the crash site. When this zone was suspended, people would have been ‘free to search the area’ for the lost valuables. While it is possible that none of the valuable items may have survived the plane crash, their eventual destination and whether someone may have already located them, remains a mystery.
5 Russian plane in Nairobi
On 17 December 2018, a private jet landed at Wilson Airport in Nairobi, Kenya just half an hour before it was due to close for the day. There were five people on board the twin-engine jet which sported a foreign registration. Three days later the plane departed for Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at half past four in the afternoon. A little more than an hour later on the same day the plane set off again to a new destination, Chad, this time with seven people on board.
Now this in itself does not constitute any mystery. However, it was discovered that the plane is owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin who is a Kremlin insider with ties to Vladimir Putin. Prigozhin had been named one of 13 people of interest in the investigations into the 2016 US election. The immigration department also refused to reveal the identities of the other passengers on the plane.
This caused quite a commotion in Kenya, because while the plane was expected, there was no word from local security agencies on whether Prigozhin was actually aboard the aircraft. Rumors spread that Prigozhin, who is part of Wagner Group, wanted to set up security deals in Kenya where training, weapons and electioneering services would be traded for mining rights. Wagner Group has been linked to the murder of 3 journalists of Russian descent in July 2018.
A month before the plane landed in Nairobi it was reported that Kenya and Russia are working together in developing nuclear power technology. Whether this was the reason for the mission being kept hush hush or whether something shady was being planned, we’ll probably never know.
4 Phantom kangaroos
Earlier in 2019, a photo of kangaroos jumping in the snow in Australia made the rounds on social media. However, that was nowhere near as weird as the phantom kangaroo sightings in the US of all places.
The very first sighting was reported in 1899 in Wisconsin. Then after several years of no sightings, Reverend W.J. Hancock spotted a phantom kangaroo in Tennessee in January 1934 along with several other witnesses. This particular kangaroo was blamed for the killing of a dog, chickens and sheep. According to several people who claimed to have seen phantom kangaroos, the creatures are up to 5.5 feet tall and have glowing eyes.
Several years later between 1957 and 1967, many reported seeing these kangaroos in Minnesota and in 1974 hundreds witnessed a kangaroo in Chicago. There were even reports of a kangaroo haunting the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco in 1980. Local zoos were contacted during sightings, but no kangaroos were ever reported missing. It is alleged that one of the kangaroos was struck by a car and killed in 1981 but both driver and creature disappeared before any investigation could take place.
3 Mzora stone circle
11 kilometres from Asilah in Morocco, a megalithic stone circle named Mzora stands guard over the hills. The existence of the circle was first realized in 1830 AD. Starting out with 175 stones, the circle now consists of 168 with the tallest being more than 5 metres high. There is a barrow at the centre of the circle and the diameter of the structure is spread over 55 metres.
In the 1st Century AD, Roman general Quintus Sertorius believed Mzora to be the tomb of Antaeus, a giant killed by Hercules as one of his labors. He noted that the remains of an 85-foot man were found inside the circle and they were immediately covered up again. An excavation of the site in the 30s revealed no remains, neither did further investigations in the 70s.
Assessments have revealed that Mzora was built by the same culture that was responsible for the megaliths in Europe. The circle incorporates a Pythagorean right angle triangle which is the same method used in similar megalithic structures in Britain.
As with other megalithic circles it has been theorized that the stones were used as a calendar and for monitoring the incoming seasons. Others believe that druids worshipped at the stones or that they were landing strips for alien crafts. But the true purpose of Mzora remains unknown.
2 The missing volcano
In 1469, a mini ice age struck Europe. Flora didn’t flourish at all and there were reports of fish being frozen as they swam around in ponds. Four years earlier, crowds attending the wedding of King Alfonso II of Naples gazed up at the sky in awe as the sun turned dark. Following that day, the weather turned grim in Europe. Germany experienced flooding to the extent that coffins were exposed in cemeteries, whole villages were swept away and in Poland, citizens started traveling by boat as the rain poured relentlessly. What no one realized was that a giant volcano thousands of miles away had erupted and caused an ash cloud so big it covered Earth. This led to the coolest decade for many centuries to come.
In 2009 scientists found a sulphurous layer in the snow layers of 1809 and 1810 while on expedition in Antarctica and Greenland. The finding indicated that a volcanic blast had occurred which would have shot debris almost 50 kilometres up in the air. They had found the aftermath of the volcano that erupted thousands of years ago. The only problem was, they couldn’t find the volcano itself.
In 2012, further investigation revealed that the 15th Century climate disaster wasn’t caused by only one volcanic eruption, but two. However, the volcano remains missing. Some have surmised that the eruptions were so violent it may have torn the volcano apart. But until evidence is found, that remains just a theory.
1 The Hunt for The Golden Owl
In the early 90s, author Max Valentin hid a bronze sculpture of an owl in flight in mainland France. Valentin was the only person who knew the location of the owl. He then published a book called The Hunt for The Golden Owl effectively setting up a treasure hunt with no time limit. The book contained riddles that needed to be solve in order to find the little owl, with the prize being not only the bronze sculpture but a statuette of the original owl in gold and silver to the value of one million francs.
The book also included several rules including prohibiting the winner of the treasure hunt from speaking to the public or media about the location of the owl or the solutions to the riddles in the book.
Max Valentin has since passed away and his publishing company went out of business, but the location of the little bronze owl remains a mystery. The creator of the silver and gold owl, Michel Becker, regained ownership of it via a court ruling in 2009 but tried to auction it in 2014. Luckily the owl’s status was protected, and it had to be removed from the auction. Becker is still in possession of the owl today.
Max Valentin is said to have produced a book of solutions to the riddles in his original book before he died but his son is holding fast to that document; honoring his father’s wish that the bronze owl be found by someone who could figure out the riddles.