Uncovering the Unexpected: 35 Fascinating Discoveries

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1King of Na gold seal

King of Na gold seal

A Japanese farmer discovered a gold seal while repairing an irrigation ditch in 1784. The seal turned out to be 95% pure gold and was a gift from the Chinese Emperor to a Japanese envoy from 54 C.E., the earliest recorded date of contact between the two countries.

2. Coelacanths were thought to be extinct since the Cretaceous period, yet they were discovered alive in 1938.

3. In 2013, The Wall Street Journal discovered a cache of files which revealed that the U.S. government lobotomized over 2000 veterans against their will after World War 2. The veterans were lobotomized for reasons such as PTSD, depression, schizophrenia, and occasionally homosexuality.

4. Alchemist Hennig Brand believed that he could distill gold from human urine. After stockpiling 1,500 gallons of the liquid and boiling it, he discovered phosphorus.

5. Petroleum Jelly was first discovered when a chemist visiting an oil rig noticed that the workers would smear the wax that built upon the drills and rigs on their wounds to heal them faster. He figured out how to refine it and started selling it under the name Vaseline.

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6Northern Elephant Seals

Northern Elephant Seals

Northern Elephant Seals were thought to be extinct until eight were discovered on Guadalupe Island in 1874 by a Smithsonian expedition. They then killed seven for their collections.

7. Russia has a vast diamond field containing "trillions of carats", enough to supply global markets for another 3000 years. The field was discovered in the 1970s underneath 35 million year-old asteroid crater in Siberia.

8. In 2011, a KFC employee discovered a 200 page, type-written manuscript written by Colonel Sanders (b1890-d1980) consisting of recipes, anecdotes, and life lessons.

9. Out of 46,000 discovered species of spider, only a single spider named Bagheera Kiplingi has been found to be a herbivore.

10. In 2013, UK scientists discovered 3 new species of mushroom after buying dried porcini mushrooms from a local grocery store and testing them.

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11Adélie penguins

Adélie penguins

In 1911, a colony of Adélie penguins was discovered to have homosexual and necrophilic behaviors. It was at that time considered too indecent for publication. The findings were finally published in 2012.

12. German archaeologists at Herxheim (in southwest Germany) discovered 7,000-year-old mass graves containing at least 500 people who were ritually butchered and eaten by an unknown cannibalistic culture as part of a "...standard, repetitive and strongly ritualized practice."

13. The sugar industry paid to play down the link between sugar and heart disease while falsely promoting saturated fat as the culprit. Documents discovered by a researcher at UCSF show how decades of misinformation shaped improper nutritional advice and caused the rise of heart disease in America.

14. In 2014, a new species of vine (Boquila trifoliolata) was discovered in Chile that can mimic the leaves of many different host trees. It can change the size, shape, color, orientation, and even the vein patterns of its leaves to match the surrounding foliage. It's the only known plant that can do this.

15. Charles Henry Turner was an African-American scientist who earned his Ph.D. in 1907. He discovered that insects could distinguish pitch, that cockroaches can learn by trial and error and that honeybees can see color.

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16John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams

The oldest existing photograph of a US President (John Quincy Adams) was discovered when it was bought for 50 cents in an antique shop.

17. After scientists discovered that deep-sea dragonfish had chlorophyll in their eyes, Pentagon began funding research for inexpensive night-vision eye drops.

18. In 2016, a Bronze Age burial site about 5 miles from Stonehenge was discovered by a badger.

19. Biologists at Osaka University in Japan have discovered a new way to grow the many separate tissues that make up the human eyeball, including retinas, corneas, the eye's lens, using stem cells extracted from a small sample of adult skin.

20. Before he died in a car wreck, Walter Gehring discovered a segment of DNA, called the homeobox, that has the exact same parts in organisms as diverse as fungi and humans, further indicating that all species evolved from a common ancestor.



In 2011, three hunters in Oregon were discovered dead around their campsite with no marks or signs of a struggle. The only unusual thing was the discovery of a dead newt in the coffee pot that was later found to produce Tetrodotoxin, a poison 10,000 times more potent than cyanide.

22. In 1965, Chinese archeologists discovered a 2400-year-old bronze sword (Sword of Goujian), untouched by corrosion, beautifully decorated and still sharp enough to cut with a touch.

23. Scientists have discovered why some people can thrive on less sleep than others. A particular gene variant (BHLHE41) is responsible, and those with it can also handle extended periods of sleeplessness better.

24. The "suicide palm" was recently discovered in Madagascar that flowers itself to death. The plant grows for decades before exploding with nectar-rich blossoms that deplete the plant's nutrients and cause it to die.

25. In 2014, a priest discovered a sealed room in an old church in Liverpool. The room hadn't been open since before World War 2. It was full of children's toys, books, and candy.

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