The tyre tree
Which came first, the tyre or the tree? Well, in this case, it’s pretty difficult to tell. If the tyre was placed there first and the tree simply grew up through it from a sapling, then it’s difficult to imagine why someone wouldn’t have simply picked the tyre up while the tree was still short enough and carried it away. By contrast, if the tyre was cut and looped around the full-grown tree, then where is the visible slice or break?
Phone call from the future
Charlie Chaplin movies are many things: funny, sad and wise just to name a few, but one, in particular, has gained a reputation for also being prophetic. In 1928, a Chaplin movie came out in which a woman walks past the camera whilst appearing to talk on a mobile phone, in spite of the fact that they wouldn’t exist at all for several more decades. That’s even more inexplicable than the zebra in the foreground!
In modern history, with its wealth of spooky stories, creepypastas and analogue horror, few cryptids have captured the popular imagination like Slenderman. This gangly, silent monster can turn any tree-filled landscape from idyllic to terrifying in a second, and make any holiday snap or family photo instantly chilling. Is there a fourth person in the background of this image who just wanted to pull a prank? Is it a stray dog walker who didn’t mean to photobomb? Or is something more sinister and otherworldly happening here?
A royal scare
The royal residence Hampton Court has a long and storied history, so much so that it can feel like the past is springing to life around you as you explore. With that said, the most literal example of the past not staying dead and buried at Hampton Court is this image, which appears to show a monarch taking an evening stroll from beyond the grave. Given that tourists are not allowed to walk around unsupervised, employees have no mundane explanation for this picture, spooky right?
Pyramids on the moon
The Apollo 17 moon mission was hugely important for a lot of reasons, but one is that it expanded the number of images we have of our moon and the surrounding space. The most baffling of all these pictures is the one above, which appears to show a perfect pyramid on the surface of the moon. To this day, NASA has maintained that this image is blank and shows nothing of scientific interest, but what do you think?
Stone age watch
For archaeologists and historians, tombs are basically treasure troves, containing all sorts of clues about how people lived hundreds or even thousands of years ago. However, for every ten excavations that include things we expect to find, like pottery, bracelets or ancient texts, there is one that flummoxes the experts. Chinese archaeologists found this jewellery in a sealed tomb, and there’s no denying that it looks spookily like a modern wristwatch. The explanation? None to be found, at least not so far.
The floating astronaut
Looking at this for the first time, you’d probably assume that this photograph was taken at a child’s space-themed birthday party, complete with freeze-dried foods and astronaut ice cream, with a performer dressed up as an Apollo astronaut for good measure. However, the parent who took this photograph claimed no one was around to occupy the shot, and it was only once the film was developed that they discovered they hadn’t been as alone as they thought.
The UFO of LA
Paris might be known as the city of lights but, let’s be real, when it comes to places with the most light pollution, LA is right up there. So it’s no surprise that when the city saw an unidentified and unexplained object in the sky, they immediately put every searchlight at their disposal on it. Though the official line is that the object was just a stray weather balloon, many have speculated that it was actually a UFO that caused such intrigue and panic.
Is there light on Mars?
The question of whether there is life on Mars has been put to bed by scientists, even if the whys and hows of whether life was once present on the red planet are still up in the air. Either way, there is no explanation for this image taken by the Curiosity Ranger, which seems to show a gleaming light on the totally empty planet. There is no official scientific line on what happened in order for this picture to come about, so for now it remains a mystery.
Ghost at the altar
There are lots of places in the world that gain reputations for being haunted: orphanages, hospitals and former mental asylums just to name a few. However, no locations feel more hospitable to ghosts than churches, which may explain this next mystery. This photograph was taken in Newby Church in North Yorkshire, England, by Reverend KF Lord. It shows a cowled figure standing alone at the altar, despite the fact that the church was empty when the picture was taken.
Black knight in orbit
Few unexplained phenomena have a more instantly unnerving name than the Black Knight Satelite. During an American shuttle mission in 1998, this image was taken, showing an unidentified object in orbit. The most commonly accepted explanation is that the object is a piece of thermal blanket, but other experts have suggested that it could have been in orbit for over 13,000 years. Maybe it was once a thermal blanket for frosty aliens?
The ghost mechanic
In this picture, you can see airplane mechanic Freddy Jackson along with his colleagues and friends. That in itself wouldn’t be a very extraordinary thing, except for the fact that Jackson died a few days before the image was taken. Nobody knows how it could be that Jackson’s face would be peeking out from behind his friend’s when he had been killed in an earlier workplace accident.
The Queensland sea monster
Tales of sea serpents of gargantuan proportions are everywhere, but none have more unnerving physical evidence than the so-called Hook Island Sea Monster. This image was captured by photographer Robert Serrec in 1964 off the coast of Hook Island in Queensland, Australia. Despite its proliferation, people are divided on whether this image is a forgery, a deliberate hoax, or simply captures another coastal phenomenon. Or maybe it truly is a giant snake?
Two enigmas in one
When professor Bjorn Hauge took a picture of the scientific phenomenon of the Hessdalen Lights, he expected the display of bright colours hovering above the horizon line. What he did not expect, however, were the floating metal crafts hovering just below them. Hauge reported that he saw an object made from steel, silicon, titanium and scandium watching from the sky, before vanishing into thin air. What were they? No one knows.
Mystery on the Mekong River
Whether it’s aliens, faeries or cryptids, mysterious lights in the sky are always a sign that something weird is afoot. This photo was taken under the full moon in Vietnam, from the banks of the Mekong River. The red lights shot out of the water and launched hundreds of feet into the air before burning out, and neither the government nor locals had any sense of what could have caused them.
The raincoated assassin
Owing to the time and occasion at which it occurred, the assassination of JFK was extensively filmed and documented. As such, in the aftermath of the tragedy, almost everyone present in the footage was contacted and questioned about their knowledge of the killer. That is, everybody but one. Known as The Babushka Lady, the woman in the yellow jacket above was never tracked down by police.
Whose thumb is it anyway?
Not every mysterious photograph has to be ominous or dark – sometimes they’re just weird! This group shot of friends hanging out on their summer vacation is a picture of the late 90s and early 2000s, but can you see what’s wrong with it? That’s right, there’s an extra hand that seems to belong to absolutely nobody.
A time traveller in Massachusetts
By 1938, it was somewhat common for people to be captured on film for newsreels and B-roll. However, what’s less easy to explain is why the woman in the middle of this group appears to be holding a mobile phone to her ear, despite the fact that the device wouldn’t be invented for another half a century. Of course, it could just be a clutch purse that she is holding in front of her out of shyness, but that’s nowhere near as mysterious.
A biblical UFO
Biblical images are a source of endless study for historians, owing to the fact that even the smallest details are often chosen with specificity and laden with symbolism and meaning. With that said, many have been puzzled by this painting of the Virgin Mary, which seems to show a UFO hovering behind her while she is deep in prayer. Does the iconography refer to the idea of the Holy Ghost or the kingdom of heaven? Or was Mary in touch with beings from beyond the Earth?
A healing presence
In 1975, Peter Berthelot took an ordinary picture of his wife sitting quietly in a pew at their local church in Norfolk, England. Only after the photograph was developed did they discover that she had been joined in her prayer by a mysterious figure made of light. After enquiring at the church, the couple were told by a local vicar that the building was known to be haunted by a benevolent healer.
UFO burn marks
Across the decades, many people have claimed to have experienced alien contact or even abductions, but few have the physical evidence that Stefan Michalak did. Sometimes called “the most credible alien abduction story of all time”, Michalak’s encounter happened in May of 1967. After witnessing two hovering, white-hot oval crafts that blasted him with an exhaust panel, Michalak was admitted to hospital with symptoms of radiation poisoning and distinctive burns, but no medical explanation for his injuries was ever found.
A side of the road treasure trove
It’s not that uncommon for an enterprising beachcomber to stumble on a rare coin or other historical artefact, but this is definitely on the extreme end of the spectrum. The so-called Saddle Ridge Hoard was discovered by a couple walking their dog in California in 2013. Comprised of over 1,400 gold coins in pristine condition, the collection was buried in a tin can on the side of a path, and according to experts had never entered circulation. The total value of the mystery collection sits at a cool ten million dollars.
A mystery manuscript
This book may not look as ominous or instantly mysterious as many of the other items on this list, but it’s just as unexplainable. This manuscript – first discovered in 1912 and comprised of 250 pages of text and illustrations written in an unknown alphabet – is maybe the most mysterious book of the 20th century. While some historians believe it to be a hoax written in nonsense to confuse and delight, others staunchly believe the Voynich manuscript is instead written in a code we have simply yet to crack.
The Baltic Millennium Falcon
It’s an accepted modern myth that shows like Family Guy and The Simpsons have the ability to predict the future, but what about historical artefacts predicting future movies and TV? In 2011, a Swedish diving squad discovered this deep-water enigma at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Historical dating puts the item’s age at roughly 140,000 years old, but many have remarked upon its uncanny similarity to the Millenium Falcon… maybe it’s from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away?
The Mars Range Rover
The inherent poignancy of a robot dutifully zooming around an empty or abandoned planet is what made the movie WALL-E such a smash hit, so it should surprise no one that people are very interested in the journey of the Mars Curiosity Rover. In 2017, the Rover took this picture, which shows an unidentified object on the barren planet’s surface. While some claim that the debris simply fell off the Rover itself, no official explanation has been released.
Aliens vs pilot
The thing about UFO sightings is that they’re often spotted by people on the ground, squinting at tiny, fast-moving objects incredibly far away. This makes their testimony unreliable, and also results in low-quality photography that is easy to write off. However, this image, taken by the pilot of a F/A-18 Super Hornet plane that got up close and personal with a flying object on the East coast of the US, is a lot harder to deny.
Time travelling secret agent
There are several photos in existence that people have claimed to be proof of time travel, but this is perhaps the most famous one of all. This image, taken in 1941 in British Columbia, clearly shows a crowd of people all in appropriate World War II-era dress… barring one. Amongst the victory rolls, calf-length skirts and trilby hats, one man seems to be wearing a graphic tee, hoodie and sunglasses. Was the man an eccentric? Was the image forged? Nobody knows!
Taking pictures at celebratory family dinners, whether they’re for birthdays, engagements, promotions or just because someone is home for the holidays, is a tradition that’s been around for close to a century. However, it’s not during every such meal that a man falls through the ceiling, especially without the family knowing. Because of the high-contrast nature of this image, it’s been speculated that the room was dark and the photo was taken with the flash on, which explains why the group seem so nonchalant about the figure behind them. The question is: why didn’t they hear him?
The Gobi Desert geometry
Everyone knows about crop circles, but they are not the only geometric patterns to occasionally pop up in random landscapes across the world. Google Maps revealed these structures and patterns carved across the surface of the Gobi Desert in China, and no explanation for them has ever been found. Though obviously not naturally occurring, nobody has ever come forward to claim responsibility for these designs, nor revealed their purpose.
The Kazakhstan pentagram
The Gobi Desert mysteries are not the only enigmas to show up on Google Maps. Drones also revealed this mathematically perfect pentacle sprawling across a sparsely populated part of Kazakhstan. Given that the measurement of each line and angle is completely in balance, some have theorised that it couldn’t have been made by humans without aid. In addition, the fact that the pentacle features heavily in witchcraft and Satanic practices has also raised some eyebrows.
In 1951, there was a fire in St Petersburg, Florida. The flames claimed the life of Mary Reeser, with nothing being left behind of her except for one foot, which was entirely uncharred. Even more puzzling: the house in which she died held no evidence of fire damage, except for the small pile of ashes that constituted the rest of Reeser’s body. This miraculous situation has since been used as evidence to support the idea of spontaneous combustion.
Bigfoot on Mars
Mars is a subject of endless study and interest, but if there’s one constant fact of its history and natural make-up, it’s that it can not support living mammals. Therefore, it seems like a reach to say that Bigfoot, who is already a cryptid of dubious existence, would be able to thrive on the red planet. Nevertheless, some images taken on Mars seem to show the yeti in its famous walking away pose, ducking behind the planet’s red dunes. Maybe it doesn’t need water to survive?
A dinosaur hunting party
It is well known that throughout history, people have hunted many species to near eradication or even total extinction. From western black rhinos to Carribean monk seals, there are plenty of creatures never to be seen again thanks to human greed. With that said, that list doesn’t tend to include dinosaurs, so how could these Civil War soldiers be standing with this giant beast? Published in 1950 before the advent of photo editing, this image was allegedly taken in 1864.
A cave-dwelling mystery
In Ras al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates in the 1990s, two travellers came upon what seemed like an ordinary cave. However, after progressing past the cave’s mouth, they were confronted by this terrifying figure. They heard a boy scream and, deeply shaken, retreated back to safety to call the police. The arriving officers found two calcified bodies but no living specimens, nor any explanation for the first body’s deeply unsettling appearance.
An unidentified mummy
The so-called San Pedro mummy has been an object of fascination for historians for a long time. First discovered in 1932, the crouched figure was uncovered deep in a burial cave in Wyoming, after being stumbled upon accidentally by two prospectors digging for gold. Mainstream scientific opinion is that the remains are that of a mummified child with anencephaly, who died as an infant due to complications resulting from their disability.
The haunted balcony
The Tulip Staircase is a piece of architecture that currently resides in The Queen’s House, a wing of the National Maritime Museum in England. The staircase is famed for its graceful design and geometric precision, but it is also known for one other thing: ghosts. In 1966, Reverand Ralph Hardy took a picture of the stairs, only to discover once it was developed that he wasn’t as alone as he thought. A shadowy figure, clinging to the bannister with its face obscured, could clearly be seen in the image.
There’s someone in the grass
Sometimes, you only realise that you were in a potentially dangerous situation way after the fact. The couple who took this picture had a dreamy, back-to-nature vacation in Colorado without incident, and were home reviewing the developed pictures when they realised that there was an ominous figure following behind them in the long grass. They were sure they had been alone at the time, and so were shaken to see the mystery person looking straight at the camera.
Beyond the grave backseat
In 1959, this man’s wife took a picture of him in the car, getting ready to drive home after they both visited her mother’s graveside. In a poignant and otherworldly twist however, the developed photograph showed the woman’s mother in the backseat, as though the couple were carrying her spirit with them on their journey home. Maybe she just wanted to go on one last road trip?
Whose child is that?
Someone or something sinister being noticed in a developed photograph that remained unseen at the time is a genre of creepy phenomena all its own, and this has got to be one of the most unnerving examples. While this may at first look like a family of four enjoying some quiet bonding time, the parents later clarified that they only had one child, and had never seen the little girl sitting at the table before.
Bigfoot’s quick getaway
Even though he is no longer at the peak of his popularity, Bigfoot remains the most iconic and instantly recognisable cryptid of all time. So much so that he is now often seen roaming far from his original home, sometimes even seeming to appear on Mars! This sighting occurred in West Virginia in the early 2000s, with the yeti striding quickly behind the cover of the trees. Maybe he was on holiday?