Unsolved Mysteries


Written by Barney Cox
14 Wednesday 14th November 2012

Bird Suicides of Jatinga

Jatinga is a small village in India, which, for the past 100 years, has been the stage for an unsolved natural phenomenon. From September to October every year, and especially on dark moonless nights, the local avian population become disorientated. Totally confused, they plunge out of the sky, toward the lights and torches of the village. Those that survive the plummet are battered to death by villagers, who think that the birds are possessed by evil spirits out to get them. Nobody knows why the birds commit mass suicide. Maybe they’re just very unhappy.

The Bloop

The ‘bloop’ is the misleadingly adorable nickname given to a strange and extremely powerful sound recorded deep underwater in 1997. Initially writing the sound off as an ice-shelf falling into the water, experts such as Dr Christopher Fox later changed their opinion upon closer analysis, and noted that the noise was incredibly similar to those emitted by a variety of deep-sea creatures. However, it’s almost twice as loud as the loudest known animal (the blue whale). If they’re right, something unknown and even larger than the mind-bogglingly huge blue whale lives underneath the world’s oceans. The scary thing is that it’s highly plausible, as 95% of the ocean remains unexplored. The question it leaves us asking is: what lies beneath?


The Wow! Signal

Like the ‘bloop’, this signal is another unexplained sound. A group of America scientists back in 1977 used a complex series of mathematical and scientific calculations to come up with a pretty good picture of what a radio signal would look like if it was transmitted by an outer-space civilization. Armed with this knowledge, they searched the stars for frequencies which matched their demanding criteria. On August 15th, 1977, Jerry Ehman discovered a signal which matched this almost exactly! He circled it and wrote 'wow!' in the margin, hence the name.

A map of the Sagittarius constellation. The two red discs are the spaces where the signal orignated from.

Ehman and his team went on to rule out most other possible causes (e.g. satellites), and the signal has been traced to the Sagittarius constellation, near the star group Chi Sagittari. To this day, it remains one of the most credible pieces of evidence for intelligent life existing outside Planet Earth. Eek!


The Salish Sea Feet

Here's a fun fact for you! When a body rots in water, extremities (hands, feet etc.) often rot off and float away. Pretty nasty, huh? This is a fact British Columbia and Washington state residents are only too familiar with. Since 2007, fourteen fully socked and shoed feet (belonging to five men, one women, and three of unknown sex) have washed up on their Salish Sea beaches. Even weirder, no other body parts, let alone full bodies, have been discovered. Nobody knows where they come from, but various theories have been floated (get it?), from an ocean-faring psychopath to the body parts of victims drowned in the tragic 2004 Asian Tsunami.


Taman Shud Case

The Somerton Man: proof that fact can often be stranger than fiction. Back in 1948, on a beach in Somerton, Australia, an unidentified man was found dead. Things got creepy really fast, however, when police noted that the clothes the man had been wearing had all had their labels removed. Not only that, he carried no identification, his teeth and fingerprints did not match the records of any known person, and it was unclear as to what he had died of. Whilst major congestion of vital organs, acute haemorrhaging, and a spleen three times larger than normal were noted during the autopsy, no foreign body was found (unless you count a half-digested pasty). Baffled, the coroner identified the cause of death as a “sudden acute onset of damned if I know”.

The 'X' marks the spot where the body was found.

Things only got more cryptic as new leads were uncovered, like the brown suitcase found at Adelaide Train Station, full of more clothes with tags removed. Stranger still, a piece of paper ripped from a book was found in a secret pocket in the man’s trousers with the words ‘tamam shud’ printed on it: meaning ‘it ends’ in Persian. The book was traced, and found to be an extremely rare edition of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, a collection of poems by a 10th century Perisan philosopher and scientist.

In the back of the book was pencilled a code consisting of jumbled letters (see title image), and has remained uncracked to this day. In 2009, an independent investigation led by the University of Adelaide, discovered that the Somerton man’s autopsy reports are missing, as well as important police case notes made at the time. Who was the Somerton man? Super-spy? Time-traveller? 63 years have passed since his death, and we’re no closer to finding out.

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