Specimens that are trapped in ice can be preserved for years without damaging the structures within them. That is why scientists have been able to study species that have long been extinct by simply charting to frigid climates. Many animals and even other creatures have been found miles underground where the sun hasn't shone for centuries.
Buried for years, (and sometimes, even centuries) these objects, places, and artifacts have been laying in wait for the day they might be discovered. So, prepare to witness some of the most incredible discoveries scientists have found buried and preserved in ice.
A Fish Frozen Halfway Through Its Meal
Well, there’s one thing we can say about this poor fish, at least it went happy. It was in the process of eating another fish when the temperature in the water got so cold that it simply froze mid-meal. Fortunately, the fisherman that found this was able to retrieve it without harming the specimen.
Airplane Buried in Ice
In 1952, this military plane was on a flight towards Anchorage, Alaska. But somewhere along the way, it crashed into a glacier and killed 41 passengers. 11 crew members also lost their lives in the crash. Sadly, rescue teams weren’t able to get to the wreckage, so the plane remained in the ice for 50 years before it was salvaged.
This nodosaur was buried in ice for approximately 110 million years. And judging from the carbon dates of the bones, this creature lived during the Cretaceous period. During this era, predators fought for supremacy, which is why this creature evolved and grew armor and spikes to protect itself. The remains of this animal can greatly serve scientists in discovering more about current animal species.
The Frozen, But Living, Alligator
Sometimes, the cold weather can freeze an animal swimming in a body of water, like this alligator for instance. But notice how it has its face stuck above the ice? It’s doing this so it can breathe. That’s right. It’s still alive and thanks to its physiology, it is able to survive in a state of hibernation until the ice thaws out.
These Birds Froze While Diving
Most birds will do a deep dive into a body of water when hunting for food to eat in Weisendorf, Northern Bavaria. Unfortunately, these birds dove into water that was extremely chilly and they ended up frozen. They were later retrieved and looked like they were encased in a brick of ice, perfectly in the exact same position that they entered the water in.
A Lake Deep Beneath the Ice
In February 2012, a Russian team of researchers found one of the world’s largest subglacial lakes. Underneath the Vostok research station is a fresh water lake located over 13,000 feet below the ice. The Russian team is currently planning further research trips to collect samples from the deep water source and discover if any strange forms of life exist in the lake. Some people think that there may be species living in the ancient water source that haven’t seen the light of day for thousands of years.
Objects From Space Have Been Found in Antarctica
Antarctica is a pretty barren space, so it’s easy for researchers to find anything that’s out of place among the snow and ice. In 2015, a NASA team found a meteorite that had fallen to the Earth 13 years prior and it was about the size of a potato. After doing research on the object they were able to find fossilized samples of microbes from Mars in the object, which will help them in future exploration attempts on the red planet.
Two Bottles of 1898 Scotch Whiskey
Ernest Shackleton, a British explorer, lead his crew on three expeditions to Antarctica between 1907 and 1909. On one trip, he left himself a treat should he ever return to the icy continent, and unfortunately he never did. After Shackleton passed away in 1921, his treasure of two bottles of Scotch whiskey were covered by ice until 2010. The people who found the bottles didn’t want to damage the findings, so they remained there for another few years until they could safely be excavated.
Cold Blooded Animals Don’t Fear the Cold
Amphibious animals like frogs that can live on both land and in water are used to the cold temperatures that occur under the sea. Frogs are cold blooded animals that can survive freezing temperatures without batting an eye, like this frog, who is dealing with a little bit of frostbite around his eyes. Luckily, he is able to enter a stage of rest so his body won’t overextend itself while he waits for the temperatures to raise back up again.
An 1800’s Lighthouse Can Withstand a Little Cold
Not only are animals and other living creatures and plants susceptible to freezing in low temperatures, but buildings with moving parts can also withstand some incredible damage due to ice and snow. This lighthouse called St. Joseph in the United States hit a temperature of -51 degrees Fahrenheit. The lighthouse was built in 1844 and although it was covered in ice, the old structure is still standing.
The Case of the Frozen Fox
What does the fox say? Nothing apparently because unfortunately, it froze in a block of Arctic ice. This fox was discovered in a German lake by a hunter and it wasn’t the first animal he found in this condition. He also reportedly discovered wild boar and wild deer frozen just like the fox was, in massive blocks of ice.
This Frozen Pup Was Thousands of Years Old
Yes! Puppies have existed for thousands of years. In fact, scientists found this particular puppy buried in ice and it was perfectly preserved. After analyzing the remains, they discovered that the puppy had been trapped in the ice in the Siberian tundra for approximately 12,460 years. This discovery lead to a lot of amazing scientific revelations about dogs today and their ancient ancestors.
An Entire Mammoth Brain
On the Laptev Sea coast, scientists discovered the remains of this woolly mammoth buried underneath the ice, and it was unique for one particular reason. Unlike other ancient remains, this had an intact brain. But after doing some research, scientists also discovered that the 39,000-year-old remains were that of a child mammoth.
Copper Arrowheads Are a Link to the Past
Not everything found under the ice is biological. Sometimes investigators find all kinds of material objects, including weapons like this copper arrowhead. According to researchers, this tool was barbed like the fishhooks people use today, which means this ancient civilization was years ahead of its time when it came to making hunting equipment.
A Frozen Lighthouse Shows the Way
There are times that even modern buildings are incredibly vulnerable to the icy elements. Believe it or not, this is a lighthouse in Michigan which has frozen over. But the structure isn’t the only thing that’s fallen prey to the elements; even the staircase has gotten an icy makeover making it impossible to get in or out of this building.
Kingfisher Bird Frozen in Ice
This once in a lifetime sight was captured by a photographer who knew that they had seen something special. The birds are known to dive into water to eat small fish, so it isn’t any surprise how it found itself in the water. But it probably didn’t expect the cold temperatures of the water to freeze itself in place, ultimately isolating it in the ice for good.
Biblical History Was Proven True During an Icy Dig
The biblical book of Genesis references a great drought that scholars had never been able to pinpoint the exact dates of. But during a period of research in Mount Kilimanjaro, a team of 2,000 researchers drilled six cores into the deep ice of the mountain to discover what caused the disappearance of the mountain’s water reserves. And they found thin layers of dust in the icy remains that lead them to be able to pinpoint the dates of an ancient drought that lines up exactly with the one written about in the book of Genesis.
Donkeys Have an Extra Layer of Protection
A herder was immediately terrified to find his donkeys outside in the cold, completely frozen to their cores, but he was thankfully able to bring them inside to warm them back up and get them moving again. Many furry animals can survive for much longer than humans in freezing temperatures because of their thick coats of fur. This is why you shouldn’t worry about putting a winter jacket on most dogs if they’ll only be out in the snow for a little while!
A 28,000-Year-Old Woolly Mammoth
Yuka the Woolly Mammoth was excavated in 2010, and she is known by researchers as one of the most well preserved mammoths ever found. Even though Yuka had been on the Earth for over 28,000 years at that point, the Japanese researchers who found the body were able to extract cells from it for possible cloning endeavors.
The Great Pyramids of Antarctica
When a group of pyramids was found perfectly formed in Antarctica using Google Earth in 2013, people were dumbfounded that there may have been ancient civilizations who built huge structures that we know nothing about on the icy continent. But geographers think that the answer to this mystery is much simpler because the group of massive pyramids may just be mountain ranges that were subject to erosion. But no one knows for sure because the site has never been closely examined.
An Otzi Man Was Buried For Centuries
Otzi Man is believed to be the ancestor to modern day Austrians. His remains were found in the Alps located between the countries of Austria and Italy. He had reportedly been buried under the ice for approximately 5,300 years. An autopsy revealed that he was suffering from Lyme disease, parasitic worms, and hardened arteries among other ailments, which can tell scientists more about how to treat these diseases in the modern day.
Grasshoppers Were Found in a Glacier
On the outskirts of Cooke City, Montana is Grasshopper Glacier. And true to its name, it’s filled with the remains of grasshoppers and locusts that met their end by freezing during a snowstorm. In fact, an analysis suggests that there was at least one grasshopper species discovered that was extinct approximately 200 years ago.
Ancient Weapons Have Resurfaced
As ice patches continue to melt away due to global warming, tools and weapons, like these spears found in Yellowstone, have surfaced. This proved to be an interesting discovery by scientists who hadn’t realized that humans had inhabited the area so long ago. But the presence of a 10,300-year-old spear was a real eye opener.
An Entire Mountain Range Was Uncovered
Scientists discovered that underneath the ice in Antarctica are the Gamburtsev Mountains, and one of its peeks sticks out from the ice. The range has peaks as high as 10,000 feet high and spans an area of about 750 miles. With the help of radar technology, scientists believe that this mountain range was formed approximately 250 million years ago.
Another Woolly Mammoth
Deep in the ice in Siberia, scientists discovered a woolly mammoth in the Novosibirk Islands in Northern Russia. The remains had been there for about 39,000 years and there was muscle tissue and blood still in tact, which left researchers contemplating the possibility of resurrecting the animal through cloning.
Scientists have discovered a whole bunch of ancient bacteria frozen in ice, and one such chunk is believed to be approximately 8 million years old. For this type of bacteria to survive the harsh conditions, they form spores, which is a type of hibernation that makes them immune to the harsh weather conditions around them.
First Nations People Were Found In Their Robes
Scientists recently discovered the body of an ancestor of the First Nations people. The remains appeared to be approximately 300 years old and he had a robe made of ninety-five pelts. He also had a walking stick and a fur coat. Sadly, none of these items were able to save him from the glacier that took his life.
A Shipwreck Was Frozen in Time
In 1914, an expedition lead by explorer Ernest Shackleton set off to cross Antarctica. The frigid temperatures were ultimately too much for the crew of 28 brave souls to handle, but they didn’t perish like other ill-fated explorers. For 17 months, the group struggled to survive in the icy continent, but in the end, all 28 people returned back home to tell the tale.
Remnants of His Explorations Are Still in the Ice
Ernest Shackleton was a legendary explorer, and he will probably always be remembered in history as one of the best. His sheer ability to be able to make such an incredible voyage without the use of modern technology not once, but several times, will ensure that Shackleton and his team are remembered by other explorers and researchers of the barren land of Antarctica for years to come. And sometimes, these researchers find a lot more than they bargained for.
Elongated Skulls Were Found in a Remote Area
Archaeologists have found three elongated skulls in the Cape Shirreff area of Antarctica. One skull is believed to have belonged to a woman who died sometime between 1819 and 1825 and researchers think that the woman lived in southern Chile during her lifetime. So how did the skull get to Antarctica? Researchers still aren’t sure because no documents exist from that era of arctic travel, but they know that she was probably traveling with a group of many people.
Ice Age Animals Have Given Scientists a Lot to Work With
The animal in this picture is a close relative to modern day moose, and a few of their traits, such as their antlers, fur and skeletal shape, are nearly identical to the modern day species. When scientists find these frozen specimens in nature, they are then able to carefully study them and find out more about the history of our Earth and the animals on it, so these creatures didn’t perish in vain.
Deep Sea Squids Can’t Handle the Freeze
Many deep-sea animals are accustomed to the frigid temperatures of the water, because many areas of the ocean get no sunlight whatsoever, so those areas maintain temperatures near freezing year round. This squid sadly perished in the ice of the ocean, but hopefully science will be able to utilize this animal for ocean research in the future.
Frozen Animal Poop Can Be Extremely Informative
Animal poop can be very informative. For example, scientists who have studied animal poop found in ice patches have learned that some ancient hunters used darts to hunt for their prey. This indicates that the ancient humans in this area were very crafty when it came to hunting for their dinners.
World War I Soldiers Were Stuck in Battle
As if fighting soldiers up in the freezing Alps wasn’t bad enough, these soldiers also had to fight the terrible cold weather. Sadly, some of them lost their lives not to enemy fire but to the freezing temperatures. As a result, their bodies remained preserved in the ice, where they stayed for years or even decades.
Atlatl Darts Are the World's Oldest Weapons
The atlaltl was considered one of the first original weapons created by modern humans and it is believed to have preceded the invention of the bow and arrow, too. The weapon has a handle and a notch capable of holding a six-foot-long spear. And the great thing about this weapon is that it allowed the user to hurl a spear a lot further than it would travel if it was simply thrown on by hand.
Ancient Forests Were Once Covered in Ice
It’s hard to imagine the ice encompassing an entire forest, but it has happened. When glaciers move forward, they tend to take out anything in their paths. Along the way, they’ll pick things up, too. This process is known as sediment moraine. When this happens, certain items, like this massive forest, get encased in the ice like the old forest in the middle of the photo was.
Sabertooth Tigers Remains Have Been Unearthed
Russian scientists have discovered the remains of several sabertooth tigers in Yakutia, Siberia. Many of these ancient tigers were still cubs when they fell victim to the elements. Like many other species of animals of that era, scientists believe that the sabertooth tiger died out as a result of human hunting and global warming.
Frozen Blood-Like Substances Have Baffled Scientists
Deep in Antarctica, scientists discovered a reddish blood-like substance that flows in Blood Falls Glacier. But after years of research, they discovered that it’s not actually blood. The liquid is actually just water enriched with iron, which is where it gets its color from. When the iron oxidizes in the air, it turns a rusty red color.
Woolly Rhinos Walked the Earth 10,000 Years Ago
Located in Sakha, one of northern Russia’s chilliest animals was this Woolly Rhino. According to researchers, this particular rhino was approximately 18 months old and its species is believed to have gone extinct about 10,000 years ago. However, this specimen was preserved nicely by the ice and it even had some of its original fur.
Viking Artifacts Were Found Deep Under the Water
Scientists discovered 3,400-year-old remnants of the Vikings in Juv Fonna, Norway. Among the various items located was a large object that looks like some kind of large skeleton in the shape of a scorpion, which was made out of reindeer parts. There was also evidence of bows and arrows as well as sections of footwear used at the time.
Discoveries are Aided by Global Warming
Global warming is a negative thing for many people on Earth because rising temperatures will change many people’s level of comfort in their everyday lives. But scientists can look forward to the melting of huge glaciers because it will aid them in making incredible scientific discoveries. When these large pieces of ice melt, the life forms that were trapped in the snow will be released and they will be able to be studied.
Artifacts May Also Be Harmed by Climate Change
Even though archaeological discoveries are more easily found due to the more rapid melting of glaciers, this same process may also harm the ancient artifacts that are waiting to be discovered. When the glaciers melt, the artifacts are then open to the air around them, and the oxygen in our atmosphere aids in the decomposition process, which will easily deteriorate decaying items.
Many Things Were Left Behind
Technology is one of the most rare finds for researchers looking in ice patches and glaciers. Because most modern technology has evolved in recent years, there haven’t been many opportunities for these objects to get lost or buried under years of snow. But that doesn’t mean that it has never happened. Some military experiments have lead to the abandonment of items like planes, vehicles and weaponry in places as strange as the coldest regions of Alaska.
Ancient Bacteria Comes From Many Sources
Many scientists around the world are studying life at its smallest sizes. The bacteria that is found when large glaciers melt can sometimes be an ancient form of life that hasn’t seen the light of day for decades. But the down side of finding ancient bacteria is that we have no idea what will happen when it comes into contact with humans, and this could cause new diseases that will take time and research to cure.
The Ice Stops Bacteria From Decomposing
Ice works miracles for keeping some forms of life from decomposing because the freezing temperature and lack of oxygen stops decomposition from happening. This is why human specimens that have been found in freezing temperatures are much better preserved than bodies found in warmer climates, and how scientists have been able to make some truly incredible discoveries in Antarctica.
Different Ice Patches Hold Different Artifacts
There are some areas of the world that are better for finding ancient artifacts than others. For example, North American ice patches frequently hold tools that were used for hunting animals. Norwegian ice patches also often hold artifacts used by ancient civilizations. But in the Alps, researchers have found a lot of tools used by old civilizations for traveling and finding their way around.
An Ancient Object Was Preserved in Ice
Found in an ice patch, a willow bow, similar to the tool drawn in this cave painting, stunned researchers who quickly determined the object to be 340 years old. Ice patch archeologist Tom Andrews found the object that was probably used to hunt elk and reindeer. After taking aerial photos of the ice patches and traveling via helicopter to the site, his team was able to make many incredible discoveries in the ice.
Antarctica is the Best Spot for Space Research
Not only are human artifacts and well-preserved bodies found in frigid temperatures, but some things that aren’t so earthly are found on the ice as well. NASA scientists frequently do research in Antarctica because the land there isn’t effected by modern humans or manmade choices. So, if something like a meteorite or other space object falls to the Earth, they can research it immediately without any interference.
Cold Temperatures Stop Other Things From Decomposing, Too
Some of the human specimens found well-preserved in freezing temperatures were brought to their location by the Incan civilization. Incas performed sacrifices on mountain peaks at 15,000 feet elevation that they thought would aid their harvests and weather. Over 115 burial sites have been found by researchers in modern times.
Ice Patches Hold Clues to the Past
One of the Arctic’s biggest mysteries is the ice patches and more specifically, what is within them. Ice patches are formed when layers of snow from previous years doesn’t melt and instead adds to last year’s layer of ice. When animals die on this ice, they become part of the layers of the ice sheet, so there are many creatures in the old layers of ice waiting to be discovered by scientists in the future.
There’s a Giant Ice Cave That No One Has Visited
Beneath the Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica is a cave that is two-thirds the size of Manhattan and nearly 1,000 feet tall. The cave was discovered by NASA scientists who believe that the cave was recently formed by melting ice. They discovered the void using satellite-based radar and believe that the gap may contribute to the glacier’s movement in the future.
There Is Lava Beneath the Ice in Antarctica
Antarctica may be a cold place, but beneath the ice on the surface, there are some spots that are hotter than most places on Earth’s surface. The ice of Mount Michael hides one of Earth’s eight lava lakes, which can reach temperatures of between 1,812 and 2,334 degrees Fahrenheit in its molten state.
Ice Comes in Many Shapes and Sizes
Icebergs move and shift all the time, but sometimes when they do, they look like they were formed by man. When this iceberg was broken by natural processes in 2017, it suddenly appeared to be in this completely unnatural shape. Because the process of erosion hadn’t yet begun to smooth the edges of this ice block, it looked just like a cake ready to be frosted.
A 650-Year Old Basket
Found in 2003, a basket made of birch revealed a lot about the society who lived in the North America region of its finding. The basket was about 9 inches wide with a 2 in high rim with a sloped edge. The woven pattern of the basket showed that the society had creative skills similar to modern people and scientists guess that the basket was used to gather berries or other fruit.
Well Preserved People from Hundreds of Years Ago
The ancient Incan society on more than one occasion sacrificed individuals on high and snowy mountaintops. Because they chose this cold location, many bodies have been found in a well-preserved state. One body that was found was so well kept that scientists could determine his age, blood type and even his status in the 15th century society.
New Fields of Study Are Made for Researching Ice Patches
Because glaciers are melting at a faster rate than ever before in modern history due to global warming, new areas of study are emerging to research this phenomenon. Some of these fields are glacial and ice patch archaeology, which are focused on studying the remains of receding glaciers and permafrost. These new fields of study lead to more discoveries beneath the ice that will give scientists a better idea of the past of human civilization and other areas of research.
An 1,800 Year Old Gopher Stick
A gopher stick was an old contraption used to hunt gophers that worked by tying a trap around a carved stick with a strong string. These devices were found in the ice by researchers who believe that the civilization who utilized them hunted the gophers for food. The complex trap was a pretty advanced tool for people around over 1,000 years ago.
The Snow isn’t Silent
Many people imagine that Antarctica is a pretty quiet place, because very few people occupy the uninhabitable space at any given time. But there is a low hum that emits from the ice frequently. This 5 hertz frequency is caused by the movement of wind against ice, and when the ice melts or the wind changes speed, this noise can change and sound almost like music.
There is Space Stuff Beneath the Ice
Because Antarctica doesn’t have a lot of sound or light pollution, it is the ideal spot for cosmic researchers to discover the unknowns about our universe. And some of their research comes from below the ice as well. Scientists from NASA are currently working on discovering the origins of elementary particles from space that have found their way into the ice of Antarctica and finding out what exactly these particles are.
There Is Life Well Below The Ice
A research team led by ecologist John Priscu of the University of Montana has been looking for signs of life well beneath the ice of Antarctica. When they drilled into the ice sheets of Lake Mercer on the snowy continent, they found 10,000 bacterial cells per milliliter of water. These signs of life could provide clues about the bacteria that could exist on other unexplored planets, such as Mars.
One Ship Is Forever Lost in the Ice
One of famed explorer Ernest Shackleton’s boats, the Endurance, was lost in the ice in 1915. The last position of the ship was recorded by the men aboard, in hopes that one day the vessel could be rescued. In 2019, a modern team was almost able to recover the ship, but their research drone was lost under the ice and the ship still remains in its original location to this day.
Some Icebergs Are Green Inside
Not only are there some red sheets of ice, there are also green icebergs in the snowy continent of Antarctica. For many years, scientists did not know why these icebergs had a green hue, but now they believe the reason to be iron-oxide dust in the ice that is later carried into the sea. These elements turn green upon contact with oxygen, similar to the process that turns copper pennies green.
Every Year There Are Thousands of “Icequakes”
Seismic sensors in Antarctica detect many small earthquakes beneath the ice, but many of them are so small that they can’t even be detected by humans. For many years, scientists didn’t know why these quakes happened until they discovered that it was ice melting and re-freezing that caused the tiny tremors, and could even effect larger sheets of ice.
Seals Solved an Ancient Ice Mystery
Every year in Antarctica, gaping holes appear in the ice which are called polynyas, and these holes have long confused scientists because they pop up even in the winter when the ice is at its thickest. But recently, researchers have discovered that polynyas form because of winds and the ocean’s currents and they discovered this by using satellite tags attached to wild seals in the area.
A Reptile Older Than The Dinosaurs
Before Antarctica looked like it does today, it was home to many species of wildlife, like one reptile that was around about 250 million years ago. This precursor to dinosaurs was dubbed an Antarctanax Shackletoni, and it looked a lot like modern iguanas. The animal grew to be about 4 or 5 feet long and it spent its days scurrying along Antartica’s forest floors.