30 Cold Climate Discoveries That Wowed Scientists

OMG May 15, 2019 By Hugo

Scientific discoveries come from a variety of places. From the lowest depths of the ocean to sequestered fields and the most remote of jungles, some of these finds are so bizarre you'll wonder if we're playing a big fat trick on you.


Rest assured, we'd do nothing of the sort. So sit back and click through fluffy arctic creatures and the vestiges of extinct animal bones as we list 30 discoveries in cold climates that enthralled scientists and the worldwide press.

1. The Icy Lighthouse

Global News

Taken in the middle of the Michigan winter, the spiral staircase on this beauty is completely frozen and most likely deserted.

But that's hardly surprising given the conditions regularly dip below -30. After all, you'd have to have thick skin to keep watch. Despite the climate, this mystic lighthouse is a beautiful building and something that wouldn't look out of place in a C.S. Lewis story.

2. Arctic Fox


Frozen animals don't always make for the best sight, but when scientists discovered a regular fox frozen in a block of ice, it made for a fascinating photo.

The unfortunate animal most likely succumbed to the frozen conditions when swimming in the Arctic.

3. Frozen But Alive


You're probably wondering how an alligator- an animal accustomed to tropical conditions- finds itself frozen in ice. In this photo, the poor reptile found itself submerged in near-fatal waters but miraculously survived.

Even cold conditions can be overcome, providing they can still breathe.

4. Caught Mid-Catch

IFL Science

At first glance this appears to be a trapped fish, but on closer inspection, you can see that the fish's mouth is reaching out for a meal. Buried deep in the bottom corner of the ice block is another fish, and it makes for a bizarre image.

Yes, it's a fish attempting to eat another fish. We suspect that the water's temperature must have changed rapidly to be caught mid-hunt.

5. A Frozen Bird/ Watercolour Painting


This frozen bird has a variety of colors that make it look more like a watercolour painting than what it is- a bird trapped in ice. 

I don't know about you, but I'd pay good money for one of these. Just me? Okay, onto the next one.

6. Cooper Arrowhead


This copper arrowhead was preserved in ice for many years and paints a picture of how ancient cultures hunted and used specific equipment to get their next meal.

This particular arrowhead looks more like a fishing rod and had barbs at the tip. Pretty cool.

7. Ice & Blood


This sounds like the latest George R.R. Martin novel, but it's just an example of ice filled with iron which gives the ice this extraordinary crimson colour.

This is the same substance that gives Mars its dark red coloring. 

8. Brinicles

Shutterstock/Sigfrid Campama Puig

When the surface of the sea freezes, salty pockets of brine gather underneath it but the brine, being denser, starts to sink to the bottom of the sea allowing fresh water to rush in but freeze upon contact with the ice.

These eventually branch out into frozen arms that connect the surface of the sea to the sea floor and these are known as brinicles, or as some people like to call them, 'fingers of death.'

9. Fire Rainbows

Shutterstock/Waddell Images

Not actually anything to do with fire or rainbows, these are streaks of light to show where a unicorn has been. No, sorry, not that either. These occur when the sun is at least 58 degrees above the horizon and cirrus clouds (thin and wispy, formed by water vapor becoming ice crystals) filled with ice crystals are in the air. 

The light will then refract parallel to the horizon causing massive arcs that can often only be partially seen due to their size thus making clouds look like they are on fire.

10. The Most Complete Skeleton Of American Mastodon Ever Found

James St. John / Flickr


James St. John / Flickr

Above is Burning Tree Mastodon excavation, the most complete skeleton of American Mastodon ever found. It was found in mid December 1989 in Burning Tree Golf Course, Heath, east-central Ohio, USA. Later, it was sold in 1993 for over US$600,000 and now resides in a museum in Japan. You may read more about it here or click next below to see more more exciting discoveries that wowed scientists.

11. Frost Flowers


With the buildup of ice around a long-stemmed plant or certain types of wood the water inside them often remains below freezing.

As the sap inside the plant expands due to the cold weather, cracks in their stems appear. Water from in the plant can then come in contact with the freezing air and as such starts to freeze causing strands of ice to form and spiral outwards creating beautiful shapes and creations sometimes called frost faces, ice castles, ice blossoms, or crystallofolia.

12. Penitentes


Spiky ice fields that can protrude up to 4 meters into the air, Penitentes are formed when the ground is so cold that ice settles whilst the sun's rays are so hot that ice can become steam without ever becoming water first.

As such, ice columns are formed where snow is evaporated and only densely packed ice remains.

13. Light Pillars


Seen over cities with an array of different colored light sources, light poles or light pillars are formed when the weather outside is -20 Celsius degrees or lower and there is no wind.

Light sources catch the ice crystals in the air and form a sort of shaft of light upwards. 

14. Arctic Tusks


Whenever you come across an article chronicling cool discoveries trapped in ice, chances are you'll read about the remains of a Woolly Mammoth. Yes, this prehistoric creature is a constant source of fascination to both scientists and the public, but few have seen a fully preserved set of Wolly Mammoth tusks with its brain intact.

According to experts, the specimen dates back some 39,000 years old.  

15. Frozen Moose


Scientists search far and wide for unique and exciting discoveries. Some discoveries are pretty average and yield little in the way of breakthrough research, but other times they can stumble upon a prehistoric moose.

With relations to the Canadian and Alaskan moose, this prehistoric creature is a slightly different species and will allow scientists to analyse how such species evolved.

16. 300,000-Year-Old Virus


Imagine digging through the ice trying to find a frozen mouse only to come across a 300,000-year-old virus. Yes, the Pathos Virus was in an icecap in the tundras of Siberia, and it just happens to be one of the deadliest viruses known to man.

This ancient virus does not have a known cure, and as you can see by the photos, it's also the largest virus on the planet. Scary stuff. 

17. Lyuba The Frozen Woolly Mammoth


Lyuba is exactly what you think she is: A baby woolly mammoth that walked this very planet more than 50,000 years ago. The incredible 2007 discovery was found unintentionally by a reindeer hunter.

It remains one of the most important scientific discoveries in recent years.

18. Snow Donuts


Incredibly rare as they only ever occur under perfect weather conditions, snow donuts are formed when a lump of snow, for practicality's sake, let's call it a snowball, is blown across a snow-covered landscape.

The ball then gathers more snow and becomes larger and rounder but due to the weight of its center, this will collapse forming a hole in the middle like a donut.

19. Snow Sentinels

Niccolo Bonfadini / Solent News

Also called arctic snow trees, subfreezing temperatures and driving snow can combine to create stunning snow formations in certain parts of the world.

Places like Finnish Lapland, are where trees get coated with a dense layer of snow that has then frozen over.

20. Ice Cold Frog


Why we might not be as impressed with a frozen frog as a moose or mammoth, this photo of a frozen frog is still pretty cool. 

Attempting to cross a stream in the height of winter, this poor frog misjudged the weather and found itself the muse of a photographer keen to capture frozen animals.

21. Sabertooth Tiger


Scientists finding frozen sabertooth tigers is nothing new, so much so that they are known in the scientific community as cave lions. A recent discovery of these so-called cave dwellers was unearthed in Siberia. I

At first glance, discoverers assumed they had found a cub before closer inspection revealed a fully grown adult. Because of the ice, the scientists had a fully preserved animal clad in centuries-old fur.

22. WWI Mountain Trenches


It has been just over 100 years since WWI- one of the bloodiest conflicts in recorded history- came to an end. Millions of soldiers lost their lives on the battlefields, while countless others- be it, innocent civilians, rescue workers and doctors- also perished.

Photographers captured trench warfare on many occasions, but few know of the conflicts that took place in the mountain ranges. Because of the plummeting temperatures, much of the equipment remains eerily preserved.

23. Viking Artefacts


It may not look as cool as a pair of tusks of a frozen tiger, but scientists always stand up and take notice whenever the ice preserves a series of artefacts from ancient cultures.

In this photo, a discoverer dug up a series of precious items used in the Viking era.

24. An Icy Woof


Dogs have been Man's Best Friend for as long as the two species co-existed, and this picture proves that dogs have been roaming our planet for thousands of years.

This specimen pictured above was found in Siberia and is almost entirely intact allowing researchers a golden opportunity to both analyze and further understand the history and biological evolution of the beloved canine.

25. Mummified Dinosaur 


For 135 million years, dinosaurs roamed the planet and chomped their way through half the ecosystem as the largest creatures known to man. So big were these awe-inspiring mammals that species like the Sauropod reached heights of over 30 feet!

Because of such a prehistoric history, some have even been mummified by the ice. It's rare but as this photo shows, scientists continue to have unique insights into the very structures of these groundbreaking mammals thanks to the preservation of ice. 

26. Otzi Man


Otzi man is one of a rare group of human bodies to have been found preserved in the ice. Discovered in the  Alps between Austria and Italy he is believed to have lived some 5,300 years ago.

Most likely an ancestor from Austrian descent, it won't come as a surprise that the poor man was riddled with diseases, with everything from gum disease, gallstones, worn joints, hardened arteries, Lyme disease, and parasitic worms found within his body.

27. Global Warming

Shutterstock/ FloridaStock

Telling people about the imminent, all-too-real dangers of climate change can often feel like talking to a brick wall. It isn't always that people aren't interested, it's usually because they haven't the time to sit and talk about the biggest macro issue of our time when their micro concerns, such as income, family and personal goals seem more pressing- and that's perfectly normal.

However, you don't have to let go of everything you know and love to make a positive impact on helping the planet. It is the little things across the globe that all add up and make a massive difference and help us avoid images like the one above.

28. A Sticky Situation


We've all been there. We're on our phones or looking at a fine distraction (whatever you think that may be) when disaster strikes, and we step into a pile of dog poo. Well if you think that's bad spare a thought for these birds who quite literally found themselves in a sticky situation- only there's was irreversible.

Diving for food as many kingfishers do when scouring lakes in Northern Bavaria, Germany, little did they know that they would freeze in seconds. 

29. Plane Crashes

Laurel Andrews / Alaska Dispatch News

Plane crashes are gruesome and lead to devastating outcomes- the main one being a mass loss of human lives- but the majority go undiscovered without any traces of where the plane may have landed. However, some crashes were preserved in ice and eventually found.

One example is a plane crash that took the lives of 41 passengers and 11 crew members. It crashed into a nearby glacier, causing all the bodies to become submerged in ice. Fifty years later, the bodies' remains were salvaged. 

30. Unknown Creatures


Strange creatures are found far and wide, and the sequestered Russian wilderness of Siberia is no exception. Trapped in large blocks of ice for years on end, many animals listed are well known or at least familiar to scientists, but some finds have proven to yield new species.

Recent examples include an unknown species of dog that experts believe was frozen ten centuries ago.

31. Frozen Craters


On the topic of Siberia, we thought we'd end this article with a genuinely terrifying photo of a gaping crater in Siberia that looks like Earth's very own version of a black hole. The photo shows one of the world's largest craters, which was first noticed by oil workers. Taken aback by its depth they soon reported their findings to scientists.

However, even experts failed to determine just how deep the crater went. The immense depth of the cavity remains a mystery. 

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