Who doesn’t love a good mystery? It’s the reason why books such as the Sherlock Holmes series and Agatha Christie novels, movies like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and TV shows like Criminal Minds and How To Get Away With Murder are so popular. Mysteries have entertained the general public for years. People love whodunit cases, puzzles that they can try and solve themselves before the answer is revealed in the end.
But not all mysteries have a clear answer waiting at the end; at least in real-life they don’t. Throughout history there have been countless mysteries that no one has solved yet; not scientists, not doctors, not anyone.
We make new discoveries all the time—whether it’s a marine biologist discovering an unidentified species living on the ocean floor, or uncovering artifacts from an ancient civilization, we thrive on having mysteries solved for us. But there are some, some that are really puzzling, that’ll probably never be answered. Which only makes us strive for an answer even more.
If you’re curious to see what some of the world’s mysteries are that we haven’t solved yet, here are 15 of the most bewildering unsolved mysteries. Feel free to make your own theory for any of the entries as well.
15. 43 Missing Mexican Students
In 2014, 43 students, all male, took a trip by bus from a teacher’s college in Ayotzinapa to stage a demonstration in Iguala where the mayor’s wife was speaking. On orders from the corrupt mayor, police took the students at gunpoint, leading to a confrontation that killed two students and three bystanders. Allegedly, the rest of the students were relinquished to a local cartel, the Guerreros Unidos. The next day, the body of one of the students was discovered in the street, the skin from his face removed. The remains of two more students were later found. Family members and friends of the missing students organized demonstrations, triggering a severe political crisis. The corrupt mayor, his wife, and the police chief went into hiding, but were captured weeks later. The governor of Guerrero had no choice but to resign and 80 arrests were made, including more than 40 police officers. And yet, the ultimate fate of the missing students still remains a mystery.
14. Oak Island Money Pit
No treasure here—at least not yet. There’s a small island off the coast of Nova Scotia known as Oak Island, which is where the “Money Pit” can be found. Discovered in 1975, it’s an extremely deep hole of extraordinarily elaborate construction. Numerous excavation attempts over two centuries have uncovered no treasure yet. Someone managed to dig pretty deep into the pit, but it immediately filled with water, and because of the mechanism’s construction, it will flood with water as soon as the liquid is removed. A stone tablet was discovered at the 90-ft mark with an inscription that was later revealed to read, “forty feet below, two million pounds lie beneath.” Numerous explorers have flocked to the money pit to uncover the secret treasure hiding somewhere beneath the island. The treasure hunt even attracted President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and a group of fellow classmates during his days at Harvard.
13. The Real Identity Of Benjamin Kyle
In 2004, a man woke up outside of a Burger King in Georgia with no clothes, no ID, and no memories. Nothing. He couldn’t remember who he was, and authorities were stumped to find an answer. An investigative search was done by local and state police but they could find nothing in any records. A few years later the FBI did a search, but they couldn’t identify him either. At some point in time the man was given the name Benjamin Kyle, but without a social security number or any record of skills or qualifications, finding full-time employment was near impossible. News media discovered his story thanks to a student documentary, and local business owners took notice. One of them gave Kyle a job as a dishwasher, a job he still holds today. But Kyle’s real identity is still elusive.
12. Severed Foot Beach In British Columbia
It’s one thing for a body to wash up on a beach, but a foot? And for feet to continuously wash up on the beach? Severed Foot Beach is a name given to a beach on the Pacific Northwest because severed feet attached to running or hiking shoes have shown up there on multiple occasions. A total of sixteen severed feet have appeared since 2007, most of them being right feet. There are a variety of theories for why severed feet keep washing up ashore—natural disasters, the work of serial killers, the shoreline being used as a body dump for organized crime—but no one really knows why and where exactly these feet are coming from.
11. The Dancing Plague Of 1518
The year was 1518, and it was a bright summer day in the town of Strasbourg, France. All of a sudden a woman started dancing wildly in the middle of the street. She kept dancing for hours until nighttime fell. 34 people had joined her in her dancing frenzy a week later, and a month later the number increased to 400. Physicians couldn’t find an answer for the random event, and religious sermons were conducted to address the mystery. Many of the dancers became sick or died due to exhaustion, heart attacks, or strokes. It was eventually decided that the best solution was to let the dancers dance whatever was affecting them out of their system, and guild halls for them to dance in were built. A number of theories were later put forth to explain the strange happening, such as epilepsy, poisoning, and secretly coordinated religious ceremonies, but we’ll never know for sure.
10. Wow! Signal
To many, the Wow! Signal proves that there are aliens somewhere out in space. On August 15, 1977, Jerry R. Ehman, a worker for the SETI Project of the Ohio Wesleyan University’s Perkins Observatory, picked up a radio frequency allegedly coming from deep space. Ehman circled the signal in red ink and wrote the word “Wow!” next to it. While the signal was thirty times clearer than the background noise, it only lasted 72 seconds. Later attempts to pick the signal up again, which originated from the constellation Sagittarius, all failed. A potential signal needs to be repeated so it can be examined more closely, otherwise it’s unfeasible to conclude whether or not it has extraterrestrial origins.
9. Taman Shud/ The Somerton Man
It’s another perfect murder mystery. On December 1, 1948, an unidentified man was found dead on Somerton beach, south of Adelaide, Australia. A piece of paper was found in one of the pockets of the dead man’s trousers with the words “Taman Shud” penned on it. The words translate to “finished” or “the end”, excerpts from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, a collection of poems originally written in Persian that was popular around the time of the Somerton Man’s death. The coroner speculated death by poisoning but was unable to prove it; others claimed it was a suicide. Governments from all the over world tried their best to identify who the man was, but all leads went cold.
8. The Confederate Treasury
This is a treasure hunt Ben Gates could probably succeed on. As the Union army neared victory in the American Civil War, the Confederate Secretary of the Treasury George Trenholm got desperate and had the South’s wealth liquidated. President Jefferson Davis and his men carried away a substantial amount of gold, silver, and jewels when they deserted Richmond, Virginia, but it was gone upon their eventual capture. 4,000 kilograms of Mexican dollars seemed to have disappeared into thin air as well. So where did all the treasure go? Some believe that the gold was dispersed among plantation owners and buried, until the day the South would rise up again. Others believe it was buried in Danville, Virginia, and that it remains there still. And there are some who believe that the assets were handed over to a secret society named the Knights of the Golden Circle so that a second civil war in the future could be financially supported. National Treasure, anyone?
7. Voynich Manuscript
There are dozens and dozens of dead languages that have puzzled linguists for years, who are only able to understand bits and pieces of manuscripts written in long-forgotten languages. But there’s probably not a manuscript more baffling than that of the Voynich Manuscript. While it is known that the text was written in central Europe at the end of the 15th century or sometime during the 16th century, it is hotly contested what the exact date is, where exactly it originated, and what language it’s written in. The manuscript came from Polish-American antiquarian bookseller, Wilfrid M. Voynich, who obtained it in 1912. Some of the manuscript’s contents are drawings of unidentified plant species, drawings of zodiac signs, pharmaceutical drawings of medicinal herbs, and numerous pages of text which are presumably filled with recipes. All attempts to decode what any of this means have failed.
6. Siberian Sinkholes
“End of the world.” That’s the name of Siberia’s Yamal peninsula in the language of the area’s natives where mysterious sinkholes started appearing. Following an inexplicable explosion in July of 2014, a 115-ft sinkhole was encountered in the Yamal peninsula, one of the earth’s most inhospitable lands due to extremely low temperatures. While scientists were trying to come up with an answer to the startling occurrence, two more sinkholes appeared in the region shortly after the appearance of the first one. In November of that same year, a team comprised of scientists, a professional climber, and a medic embarked into the first sinkhole to understand more about it, but no one can figure what caused the sinkholes to appear. Scientists believe gas explosions are the cause of the mysterious sinkholes, but they haven’t been able to prove their theory yet.
5. Antikythera Mechanism
The Antikythera Mechanism is the world’s oldest computer known to man. A surprisingly complex analogue computer, it was designed to ascertain the positions of celestial bodies using a complicated set of bronze gears to operate. It could also count the days in accordance with three different calendars and compute the timing of the Olympics. The device was discovered in a shipwreck near Greece in 1900, but it’s much older than that. It was built 100 years before the birth of Christ, 1,600 years before Galileo, and 1,700 years before Isaac Newton. The mechanism was created way before our modern knowledge of astronomy, and way before anything technologically similar to it was invented. It was created 1,000 years before it’s time. And it’s still baffling experts to this day.
4. Sea Peoples
Civilizations all over the world were thriving during the late Bronze Age—the Mycenaean and Minoans ruled over Greek and Crete respectively, the Hittites over Turkey, and the Canaanites over what would be the holy land, the countries of Lebanon, Israel and Jordan. Kingdoms emerged, technology flourished, and everything was great. But then it was all taken away, and during a single generation. The Bronze Age crumbled because of the “Sea Peoples,” the name given to a confederacy of seafaring warriors who conquered civilizations across the map. The survivors were sent back a thousand years, not only losing their ability to write but also their talents in fine arts among other things. Historians have no idea where these warriors came from, nor what happened to them after their conquest ended in Europe. Another question plaguing historians is how the Sea Peoples could overthrow civilizations much more technologically advanced in weapons than them.
3. Black Dahlia Murder
It was the perfect murder mystery, one that will probably never be solved. 22-year-old aspiring actress Elizabeth Short was discovered brutally murdered on January 15, 1947 in Los Angeles, California. Her body was naked, cut in half, severely maimed, and had been completely drained of blood and scrubbed clean. The case was highly publicized by the media, leading to Short being given the nickname the “Black Dahlia.” The LAPD conducted a lengthy and thorough investigation, but after several false reports, several false murder confessions, and a serious lack of hard evidence, detectives could never find out who the killer was, leaving the case of the Black Dahlia as one of L.A’s oldest unsolved murder cases and the city’s most famous.
2. SS Ourang Medan
Many tales of ghost ships have cropped up over the years. But perhaps there’s none like the SS Ourang Medan. In either June 1947 or early February 1948, a chilling SOS radio message went out to ships sailing around the Straits of Malacca near Sumatra and Malaysia. Those who heard the SOS claim that the message went like this: “All Officers, including the Captain, are dead. Lying in chartroom and bridge. Possibly whole crew dead. … I die.” The telegrapher died during the transmission. The Silver Star heard the message and went to the Ourang Medan to investigate, where they found a ship full of dead bodies. Theories abounded for what could have killed off the entire crew, such as hazardous chemicals, ghosts, and even aliens.
1. Baghdad battery
Benjamin Franklin may not have been the one to discover electricity; the discovery may have come 2,000 years earlier. Baghdad batteries, believed to have originated from the Mesopotamian region, were galvanized iron nails swathed in copper sheeting. An acidic liquid, some archaeologists believe, was applied to produce an electric current inside the clay pot the batteries were discovered in. Ever since the discovery in 1936, archaeologists have debated among themselves whether or not the artifacts were actually used as batteries. Replica models of the batteries were constructed, and when an acidic liquid was applied, the batteries were shown to be capable of generating an electric current. However, since there are no historical records from that time, what exactly ancient Mesopotamians used them for continues to elude archaeologists.