You might have heard that mother nature is bizarre, but you might not realize, how bizarre she can actually be. From an everlasting storm to a lake that kills and mummifies animals, check out these 25 bizarre natural phenomenon that actually occur on earth.
Also known as mock suns or phantom suns, sundogs are an atmospheric phenomenon that consists of a pair of bright spots on either side of the Sun, often co-occurring with a luminous ring. These are created by the refraction of light from plate-shaped ice crystals either in high and cold cirrus clouds or, during very cold weather.
Underwater crop circles
First discovered in 1995 off the coast of southern Japan, the underwater crop circles had been a mystery for a long time. It wasn’t until 2011 when scientists finally realized that these, up to 7-foot-diameter elaborately patterned circles were created by a little puffer fish.
Great Blue Hole
Most people have seen pictures of the Great Blue Hole in Belize, however few know how it actually came to be. The Great Blue Hole was originally an inland cave at a time where sea levels were much lower. But as sea levels began to rise, the cave was flooded. Today, the hole is over 300 meters (almost 1000 feet) across and is 124 meters (400 feet) deep.
Christmas Island red crab migration
Measuring up to 12 centimeters (5 inches) wide, the Christmas Island red crab is a species of land crab endemic to Christmas Island and the Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean. Usually, the crabs hide in burrows in local forests, however, each year they migrate to the coast to breed. For over a week, local roads turn red as millions of crabs move to the coast.
Talking about migration, there are several impressive migrations in the bird kingdom as well. Every March, for example, more than a million common starlings, medium-sized passerine birds about 20 centimeters (8 inches) long, start to gather in southwestern Jutland, Denmark for their mid-April migration. When the flocks begin to move, they create a phenomenon locally known as “sort sol“ which translates as “Black Sun”.
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Located in the town of Naica, Mexico, the Cave of the Crystals was discovered as recently as in 2000 but since then, it has attracted speleologists and geologists from all over the world. The cave contains giant selenite crystals some of which measure up to 40 feet (12 meters) in length. Since the cave is extremely hot with temperatures reaching up to 58 C (136 F), it is still relatively unexplored but it is estimated that the crystals have been forming for over 500,000 years.
Spider web blankets
You might have seen pictures of some really extensive spider webs but what happened in Wagga Wagga, Australia a few years ago was truly an enormous and unique phenomenon. As a consequence of severe floods, local spiders (as well as people) were forced out of their homes but the spiders reacted in a way that surprised even experienced biologists. By joining hundreds of thousands of spider webs together, they created a gigantic “platform” that saved them from drowning.
Sometimes also referred to as “the everlasting storm”, the Catatumbo lightning is a unique atmospheric phenomenon found in the mouth of the Catatumbo River, Venezuela. Originating from a mass of storm clouds at a height of more than 5 km (3 miles), the storm occurs for up to 160 nights a year, 10 hours per day.
Grand prismatic spring
Found in the Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the United States, and the third largest in the world. Notable for its vivid colors caused by pigmented bacteria living around the edges of the mineral-rich water, the spring is approximately 250 by 300 feet (80 by 90 m) in size and 160 feet (50 meters) deep. It discharges an estimated 560 gallons (2,100 liters) of 160 °F (70 °C) water per minute.
Moeraki boulders are large, spherical boulders lying along the Koekohe Beach, New Zealand. According to a local Maori legend, the boulders are the remains of eel baskets. However, modern scientific analysis shows that they consist of mud, fine silt and clay, cemented by calcite and date back to the Paleocene period (66 – 56 million years ago).
Basalt is a common extrusive volcanic rock formed from the rapid cooling of basaltic lava. The basalt formations can take various shapes but one of the most impressive forms is the basalt column. Millions of years ago, they were just regular lava plateaus but over time, fracture networks started to appear within the plateaus, creating some of the world´s most amazing rock formations.
Found in several areas in southeast, southwest and northwest China, the Danxia landforms are a unique geomorphologic type of landscape characterized by a striking, mainly red coloration. Masses of cretaceous sandstone and limestone have been eroded by wind, sun and rain for millions of years, creating spectacular rock formations including pillars, ravines, columns, canyons etc.
Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism. One of the most astonishing examples of this unusual natural phenomenon can be seen on the Vaadhoo Island, Maldives, which is famous for the bioluminescence display of the phytoplankton known as dinoflagellates.
We have already mentioned two examples of unusually massive and impressive migrations but as for the number of “participants”, neither of them can compare to the sardine run. Almost every year, from May through July billions (that’s right, BILLIONS) of sardines migrate northward along the east coast of South Africa, causing a real feeding frenzy for numerous predators. Despite the enormous scale of the migration, scientists don’t know much about this phenomenon. What we do know is that in the last 23 years, the sardines have failed to make the run three times.
Most ants navigate by using eyesight, but some army ants are completely blind, relying only on a special pheromone scent trail left by other ants. Therefore, if the ant loses the trail, it’s possible for it to become disorientated and march in circles for hours until it dies of exhaustion. In this phenomenon (sometimes referred to as the ant mill), the ants can walk in circles exceeding 1,000 feet (over 300 meters) in diameter.
Scientifically known as Pyura chilensis, the living rock is a tunicate, a marine invertebrate animal, found in dense aggregations on the coast of Chile and Peru. What resembles a mass of internal organs inside a rock is actually an immobile creature feeding on microorganisms that it filters out of the seawater. For no obvious reasons, the living rocks contain about 10 million times more vanadium (an extremely rare chemical element) in their bodies than is found in the water.
Originating in the troposphere, lenticular clouds rank among the rarest and most unusual types of clouds. As moist air travels up some obstacle (for example a mountain), it collects on the top of it and forms a lens-shaped cloud. Because of their unique shape, lenticular clouds have even been mistaken for UFOs.
Rain of animals
There have been numerous bizarre cases of animals falling from the sky. In the summer of 2000 in Ethiopia, millions of fish suddenly fell from the sky. In June 2009, Japan, it rained frogs and in Argentina in 2007, people had to protect themselves from a shower of snakes. Most of these “animal rains” are attributed to tornadoes and other types of severe storms capable of lifting and carrying bodies of water.
Located in northern Tanzania, the Lake Natron is a salt and soda lake notorious for its extremely high content of salt and scorching temperatures of up to 60 C (140 F). Though some animals have managed to adapt to the harshness of the lake, most animals that venture into these waters find themselves victims of the lake’s mummification ability.
Scientifically known as Eucalyptus deglupta, the rainbow eucalyptus is a 6 foot (1.8 m) wide and over 200 foot (61 m) tall tree. The tree is characterized by its unique multi-hued bark.
Few things can be more bizarre than the weather. An ice storm, for example, is a type of winter storm characterized by freezing rain. Frozen precipitation melts to rain while falling into the warm air layer, and then begins to refreeze in the cold layer below, covering everything with a heavy, smooth glaze of ice. One of the most memorable ice storm ever recorded hit the city of Geneva, Switzerland in January 2005.
A type of fumarole, an opening in the planet’s crust that emits steam and gases, the snow chimneys are basically remains of little snow-covered volcanoes and occur in many arctic areas. As soon as the steam and gases leave these vents, they freeze, and eventually, get covered with a thick layer of snow, turning the volcanic vents into the snow chimneys.
Known by several other names such as fire tornado or fire twister, the fire whirl is a whirlwind induced by a fire and often made up of flame or ash. Often taking shape of a tornado, the fire whirl rotates around a core where the temperature can reach up to 2,000 °F (1,090 °C)—hot enough to potentially reignite ashes sucked up from the ground. A fire whirl observed in Australia during the 2003 Canberra bush fire had a diameter of nearly 500 meters (1,600 feet).
Also known as sailing stones or moving rocks, the running rocks refer to a bizarre geological phenomenon in which rocks move and inscribe long tracks along a smooth valley floor without any human or animal intervention. The origin of the phenomenon is not completely clear yet but scientists suggest the movement might be caused by a strong wind that pushes the stone on a thin layer of clay or wet soil. The heaviest running rocks that have been reported weighed about 700 pounds (almost 320 kg).
The Pororoca wave is an up to 12 feet (4 meters) high tidal wave that travels as far as 500 miles (800 km) up the Amazon River. The longest wave in the world forms only twice a year from February to March, when the tides of the Atlantic Ocean meet the mouth of the Amazon. Although surfing the Pororoca is extremely dangerous, as the water contains a significant amount of debris from the river (often entire trees), surfing the wave has become a popular sport among local people.