Tuesday, 31 May 2016


10 Times History Changed Because One Person Got Sick
By Nate Yungman,
Listverse, 31 May 2016.

We tend to think of history as important people making important decisions, but far too often, we forget the human part of “human history.” Humans get sick, and humans make history. Every once in a while, those two overlap.

10. Gone With The Wind Was Written To Kill Time While Healing An Ankle Injury


Now considered one of the greatest books and movies of all time, Gone with the Wind is an American classic. Historians believe that it has literally changed how we view antebellum history.

However, it would not exist if Margaret Mitchell had never developed arthritis in her ankle. Unable to move, she became an insatiable reader. Her husband had to drag all of her library requests home every day.

He eventually got sick of continually bringing her books, so he brought her a typewriter. He wanted her to entertain herself by writing a book. Jokingly, he said, “Peggy, if you want another book, why don’t you write your own?” That manuscript became Gone with the Wind.

Margaret Mitchell had never wanted to write a book. When friends came by, she would hide the manuscript as pillows or put it under the rug. By 1929, her ankle had healed and the book was finished. She had no intention of publishing it.

In fact, it wasn’t until 10 years later that the book was published. She got the push after a friend laughed at the idea of Margaret Mitchell ever writing a book, saying “Imagine, anyone as silly as Peggy writing a book!”

9. Farts Drove Hitler Crazy

Photo credit: German Federal Archive

Adolf Hitler suffered from meteorism, a fancy way of saying that he farted a lot. To solve it, Hitler saw a lot of doctors who tried different diets, but none worked. In 1936, Theodor Morell successfully cured his farting. His prescriptions were helpful but led to Hitler’s demise.

To treat his flatulence, Dr. Morell prescribed “Dr. Koester’s Anti-Gas Pills” and weekly injections of amphetamines. These did help to make Hitler’s farts less stinky, but the pills contained extracts of strychnine and atropine.

The key ingredients of those pills were belladonna and strychnine. Belladonna is a poison that causes excitement, confusion, and hallucinations. Strychnine causes agitation, apprehension, fear, and restlessness.

Starting in 1940, Hitler took 20 of those pills every day. He also took daily injections of amphetamines and cocaine. The effects on his nervous system are incalculable. Common symptoms include delirium, violent outburst, paranoia, and hallucinations.

While high on meth, Hitler berated Mussolini at their last meeting in 1943. This meeting severed an already strained alliance. As the war progressed, Hitler became increasingly insane and aggravated.

By April 1945, Hitler was trapped in the bunker and was a raving meth head. In his last few hours, he took another dose of meth. Aggravation, paranoia, and violent tendencies came to a boil with his suicide.

8. Hong Xiuquan Got Sick, Thought He Was Jesus’s Brother, And 20 Million People Died

Photo via Wikimedia

Hong Xiuquan is not well-known in the US, but he started a civil war that killed more people than the American version. In fact, both of them happened at the same time - except the Chinese version lasted three times as long and took 20 times as many lives. It also was important in bringing down the Qin dynasty.

All of this started because a disgruntled civil servant had a fever. Hong Xiuquan was fascinated by the Protestant missionaries in China. While reading their teachings, he was suddenly struck by sickness and was unconscious for about four days.

While in a coma, he had a vision that he was the younger brother of Jesus and had been taken up to Heaven to see Him. Hong also saw a bearded man who told him to slay all the demons.

As the other son of God, his cult gained a lot of traction. The teachings of the “Heavenly Kingdom” were also inspired by the fever to kill demons. In fact, the word “demon” became someone who doubted Hong’s teachings. This crazy man got a hot head, and the Taiping Rebellion tore apart an empire.

7. Communism Started As A Skin Rash

Photo credit: HSIHidradenitisHelp via YouTube

Karl Marx’s Das Kapital is one of the most important collection of words in human history. This book directly outlined how communism could work and be implemented. Karl Marx believed that there was a mass conspiracy among the wealthy to suppress the poor.

According to a theory by Professor Sam Shuster in the British Journal of Dermatology, this paranoia was caused by a rare skin condition called hidradenitis suppurativa. Besides boils and pus, hidradenitis suppurativa produces feelings of exploitation and alienation.

Marx associated his physical suffering with the suffering of the poor. The personal turmoil, physical and mental, helped foster a state of mind that conceived of communism.

6. A White Woman Lost Her Voice, And Thousands Of Black People Gained Theirs

Photo via Wikimedia

As a genre, the blues was influenced by the suffering of the Jim Crow–era South. To best capture this, record companies hired white women to cover the songs. But all of that changed when Mamie Smith recorded “Crazy Blues.”

Mamie Smith holds the distinction of being the first African American to be recorded singing the blues. She was only allowed to do this when white singer Sophie Tucker became ill and backed out of a recording session.

Songwriter Perry Bradford convinced the recording studio that audiences could handle hearing a black person sing a genre that they had created. The song has become a classic, but its real legacy was the boom in African-American recording artists.

For the first time, African-American blues and jazz musicians recorded in mass numbers. This launched an era of music known as classic female blues. Legendary acts like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey were heard for the first time.

In a decade that saw the rise of Louis Armstrong, Robert Johnson, and Duke Ellington, it is wonderful that Sophie Tucker got sick when she did. Who knows how many wonderful songs and artists we were denied before Sophie became ill and how many more we would have missed if this racist policy had continued much longer?

5. A Torn Groin Killed JFK

In September 1963, President John F. Kennedy’s womanizing proved to be excessive. After a particularly thorough session, he tore his groin muscle. To prevent further damage, he was ordered by his doctors to wear a stiff canvas shoulder-to-groin back brace.

This locked his body in an upright position. With the combination of an old back brace that he always wore, Kennedy was unable to bend over. For any other person, that would cause an awkward gait. But for Kennedy, it proved to be deadly.

When Kennedy was struck by the first bullet in his assassination, he did not lean forward like Governor John Connally. Instead, he remained upright. His rigid posture allowed Lee Harvey Oswald to get three shots in before Kennedy could duck. Both doctors on duty at Parkland Hospital, Dr. Charles Carrico and Dr. Malcolm Perry, testified at the Warren Commission that Kennedy could have survived the wounds from the first bullet if he had not been wearing his brace.

4. Martin Luther Pooped Out A New Religion

Photo credit: Lucas Cranach the Elder

The Protestant Reformation began with the writings of Martin Luther. But he actually started this international movement because he was having trouble starting a movement in the bathroom.

Suffering from chronic constipation, Martin Luther spent many hours in solitary contemplation on the toilet. That alone time was where he came up with many of his theological thoughts. It was upon the throne that he first wrote down his “95 Theses,” the document that instigated the reformation.

More importantly, his interpretation of Sola fide was also written on the toilet. The idea of “faith alone” was the first theological difference between Catholicism and Lutheranism.

There are many fecal references throughout his writings, including “shitting on the Devil” and “breaking wind at the Pope.” Aware of the role that poop had played in his life, Luther credits his insights to the “knowledge the Holy Spirit gave [him] on the privy in the tower.”

3. Napoleon Got Hemorrhoids And Lost His Empire

Photo credit: Son of Groucho

Tragically remembered for the massive death toll that also inspired an ABBA song, Waterloo is one of the most iconic losses in history. The battle becomes even more tragic when you learn that it could have been a victory for Napoleon if he had not had hemorrhoids.

Due to a particularly painful bout, Napoleon could not lead his soldiers on horseback. Even when he was able to communicate with his troops, he gave illogical directions. No longer able to lead, he delegated to the inept Marshal Michel Ney.

A few days before the battle, Napoleon had tried to treat his hemorrhoids. But his doctors had accidentally prescribed an overdose of laudanum, and he was still feeling the effects. He was drowsy and actually fell asleep during the battle.

This forced him to reschedule the battle from 6:00 AM to 9:00 AM and then to 12:00 noon. The delay allowed the Prussians to join the British forces. Wellington himself credits the new army with turning the tide.

2. The First Time That A Door Defeated Nixon

Photo credit: Associated Press

You may already know that a piece of duct tape on a door at the Watergate Hotel brought down Nixon in 1972. Twelve years earlier, another door cost Nixon his first election. Begging the question, what do doors know?

During the first televised debate in presidential history, Nixon’s sweatiness made him look untrustworthy and is generally considered an important factor in the outcome of the election. But the reason for Nixon’s haggard look was a bang on the knee.

Before the debate, Nixon had just been released from the hospital. There, he had spent 12 days on his back after hitting his knee on a car door as he got out of his car. He developed an infection from which it took weeks to recover.

Nixon was still drained of energy when he took the stage. He had lost weight and looked gaunt. Running a fever of 102 during the debate, Nixon sweated in one of the most iconic moments of political imagery. In those beads of sweat, Nixon’s chances of becoming president were wiped away.

1. The Throat That Caused A World War


Under Frederick III’s leadership, the politically volatile German Empire was improving. As many European states were becoming more nationalistic, tense, and imperialistic, Frederick favored constitutional reform, accountability, a more democratic Germany with a strong parliament, and the reluctance to use military force.

However, all of that ended after 99 days. Unfortunately for Frederick and the rest of the world, Frederick died from a treatable cancer of the larynx. The disease was misdiagnosed by Frederick’s doctor three times. Each time, he believed that the lump was benign. If the doctor had treated Frederick correctly, the path to World War I would have been quite different or maybe nonexistent.

When the bombastic Wilhelm took over, he pushed for aggressive diplomacy and territorial expansion through strengthening the navy. He also antagonized Britain by supporting rebels throughout their empire and calling their king “Satan.”

The tense situation in Europe could have been resolved if Frederick had lived just a little bit longer. France and Germany were mending their relationship. Frederick III was one of the few Germans who was respected in France. If Germany had become a constitutional monarchy, Parliament would have restrained Wilhelm and his plans for domination.

Top image: A scene of the Taiping Rebellion, 1850-1864. Credit: Wu Youru/Wikimedia Commons.

[Source: Listverse. Edited. Top image added.]


12 Medical Implants You’ve Never Heard Of
By M. W. Byrne,
The Coolist, 28 May 2016.

The use of metal and mechanical parts to enhance human beings for medical reasons dates back as long as there have been screws and plates that individuals could cram into their bodies. Attempts have been made by physicians, witch doctors, voodoo practitioners, and experimental sadists to improve, enhance and heal through the enmeshment of flesh, bone, and metal or stone in nearly every era, for almost every reason.

It was only after the First World War that the discipline of biomechanics really took hold and became a regular practice in the medical community. A far cry from the peg legs and hooked hands of pirates, this exercise led to doctors using every conceivable piece of technology to improve the lives of their patients. As time has gone on and technology has improved, the complexity of the items that were interfaced with our bodies has become as intricate as our forms themselves.

Today, as the world of invention progresses, it’s difficult to keep pace with all the new implants available to save our flesh from the ravages of age, disease, and infirmity. For those looking to find a novel new way to augment themselves, here’s 12 medical implants you’ve never heard of that might save your life.

1. Alpha AMS Subretinal Implant

Image via Medgadget

Retinal implants are nothing new, but at 1,600 pixels, the AMS allows vision of a much higher resolution than previous models. Created by German firm Retina Implant AG, once the implant goes in it replaces the action of the retina, stimulating the optic nerve and taking a series of pictures that are transmitted to the brain, allowing those with damaged retina, but otherwise healthy eyes to see again.

2. Amyloid Beta Reducer to Treat Alzheimer’s

Image via Medgadget

Amyloid beta is a protein that can be beneficial, but has also been tied to the mental degradation of Alzheimer’s disease. As Amyloid beta builds up, it is thought to cause issues with memory and concentration, leading to dementia and years of suffering. To combat this, researchers at the prestigious École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland have devised an implanted devise that releases compounds which combat Amyloid beta, potentially stopping Alzheimer’s in its tracks.

3. Dissolvable Electronic Brain Implants

Image via Medgadget

Not all implants are intended to stay permanently in the body. Many are put in to treat an acute condition, or diagnose an issue, and then be removed. The issue with these temporary implants is that the surgery to put them in and to take them out again is invasive. To solve this problem, medical researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created electrical implants that dissolve when they are no longer needed, and pass out of the body harmlessly.

4. Procyrion, Inc. Circulatory Support Pump

Image via Startup Houston

Valves and pacemakers are common implants for those with heart conditions, but for people who suffer with chronic heart failure, they often aren’t enough. This small pump from Procyrion works in conjunction with other implanted devices to continue moving blood through the body of a patient, even when the heart seizes, ceases, or goes into arrhythmia.

5. Vivistim System

Image via

Stroke survivors often suffer from severely reduced mobility in one side of their body, often completely unable to use one arm for the remainder of their life. The Vivistim System is placed beneath the collarbone and sends electrical impulses along the Vagus nerve which causes new neural pathways to grow and greater utility of the injured arm to be restored.

6. Wireless Nano Machines

Image via Popular Science

The 80’s and 90’s saw a multitude of movies and television shows about shrinking a vessel down to enter a human body, but never before have we been so close. Developed at Stanford, these are small enough to travel through the human bloodstream, removing clots, taking pictures, and performing minor surgeries, all via remote control.

7. Synthetic Vocal Chord Gel

Image via Popular Science

Though most of us take our voices for granted, there’s an unusually high number of people, approximately 6% of the population in the United States alone, who literally have no voice. Our vocal chords are delicate and easily damaged, which can leave a sufferer speechless for the rest of their lives. This specialized gel coats damaged vocal chords providing a permanent, harmless way for those who could not speak to again sing out.

8. ElectRx

Image via IFL Science

Conceivably the answer to relieving Big Pharma’s stranglehold on human health, the ElectRx device is an implant that constantly monitors a patient’s overall health, and sends out stimulating messages to help tell the body’s organs to heal themselves. Highly geared toward preventative care, it could stop or arrest diseases without the need for harmful drugs filled with side-effects.

9. Brain Medicine Dispenser

Image via New York Magazine

Neurological disorders such as epilepsy or depression can be difficult to treat, because the symptoms can arise so rapidly, yet the treatments are so time-consuming. Using an implanted dispenser no larger than a hair, it has been found that rather than using a whole array of pills, patients can be given faster relief via remote, with drugs going right where they’re needed, when they’re needed.

10. Tumor Tracker

Image via Popular Science

An entire laboratory that can almost fit on the head of a pin, this tiny, injectable implant sits in the body of cancer sufferers and keeps constant vigil over the chemicals present in the body, allowing it to determine if certain kinds of tumors are growing, or note changes in the heart that could indicate danger. It can then warn doctors before a serious problem turns deadly.

11. Flexible Spinal Implant for Paralysis

Image via Medical Daily

Our spines are extremely delicate, with thousands of nerve fibers running through them, yet they are constantly being abused. Each year, thousands end up paralyzed because of a simple injury to the back. While there are implants that can reconnect damaged nerves and stop paralysis, they are often rejected by the body. This new flexible implant offers a connection that is able to move as a person does, preventing rejection by the body and a lifetime of motion.

12. 3D Printed Trachea for Baby

Image via NPR

3D printing has caused a revolution in the medical implant industry, giving doctors the option to create delicate, intricate items out of any material they wish to devise everything from skin to replacement parts. One of the most famous instances is that of a baby who was given a full trachea so that he was able to breathe.

Top image: Implanted microchip. Credit: MomentiMedia TechFever Network/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

[Source: The Coolist. Edited. Top image added.]

Monday, 30 May 2016


10 Lost Islands
By Patrick J. Kiger,
How Stuff Works, 17 May 2016.

Islands have long have occupied a special place in the human imagination. "So close to our own world, yet so out of reach, they have been the landscapes where no life form was unimaginable, no occurrence impossible," as Miles Harvey noted in his 2000 book "The Island of Lost Maps."

That's why we have stories from Greek mythology of islands like Circe, where men are transformed into pigs, or Cyclopes Island, where one-eyed giants eat human flesh. The classical Greek philosopher Plato wrote of a massive, vanished land mass called Atlantis, which once existed west of the Straits of Gibraltar. In Plato's tale, Atlantis was a "great and wonderful empire" that conquered the lands surrounding the Mediterranean, until finally it was defeated by the Athenians and their allies. Then, apparently, the gods became displeased with Atlantis, and violent earthquakes and floods caused it to sink in one single day.

Atlantis, as Plato described it, seems to have existed only in his rich imagination. Nevertheless, it's hard to totally dismiss the possibility that it was based upon a real place. After all, plenty of islands have disappeared from maps, and some of them were real places. Others existed only in imagination, and still others live in that shadowy place between fact and fiction. Here are stories of 10 lost islands.

10. Vordonisi - Reappeared After 1,000 Years

Image: Wikimapia

Vordonisi, an island in Turkey's Mamara Sea, vanished in 1010 C.E. after an earthquake. But in 2013, seismic activity apparently caused the sunken land to begin to rise again [source: Atherton].

Before it disappeared, the island, just 1 square mile (2.5 square kilometers) in area, was the site of a monastery built by a Byzantine patriarch named Photius I, in 886. Photius had been banished to the island by Byzantine Emperor Leo VI, because of accusations that Photius had participated in a conspiracy against Leo's predecessor, Basil I [source: Atherton].

After researchers identified the site from ancient maps, divers photographed the underwater ruin. Ali Kılıç, mayor of the Istanbul district of Maltepe, told a Turkish newspaper that he hoped the island would be recognized by the United Nations and earn a spot on its World Heritage List [source: Anadolu Agency].

In 2016, just a few visual traces of the island can be spotted - flashes of light on the water over it, which are caused by reflections from the top of the sunken monastery. But archaeologists hope to uncover more.

9. New Moore Island/South Talpatti - Done in By Global Warming


For several decades, the nations of India and Bangladesh squabbled over who had sovereignty over a tiny island in the Bay of Bengal. The Indians called it New Moore Island, while the Bengalis referred to it as South Talpatti. Regardless of which name you chose, there wasn't much to it. The island was just 2 miles (3 kilometers) long and 1.5 miles (2 kilometers) wide, and had no permanent buildings on it. Nevertheless, in 1981, India went so far as to send paramilitary fighters to occupy the island and hoist the Indian flag above it.

But all that nationalistic fuss over sovereignty was for nothing, because global warming - which causes rising sea levels - ultimately resolved the conflict. By 2010, sea patrols and satellite imagery confirmed that New Moore Island/South Talpatti had sunk beneath the water and vanished.

But while the disputed island's fate wasn't all that significant in the scheme of things, it was an ominous indication of what the future may hold for other, more populous islands in the Bay of Bengal. As many as 10 local islands are at risk from rising sea levels [source: Associated Press].

8. Maui Nui - Broke Into Four Islands
Image: Lencer/Wikimedia Commons

Hawaii is the biggest island in the Hawaiian archipelago, but it hasn't always been that way. The four modern islands of Maui, Moloka'i, Lana'i and Kaho'olawe once were all connected in one gigantic land mass that scientists have dubbed Maui Nui (which in the Hawaiian language means "big Maui"). At its peak size 1.2 million years ago, Maui Nui stretched for 5,640 square miles (14,600 square kilometers), making it about 50 percent bigger than the island of Hawaii is today [source: Hawaii Volcano Observatory].

Maui Nui was a land of multiple volcanoes, created by spewing vast amounts of lava from Earth's upper mantle. But what made the island so big also contributed to its demise. As the volcanoes gradually stopped building up the land, the weight of all that lava eventually caused the oceanic crust to buckle and subside. That caused the connections, or saddles, between the volcanoes eventually to sink beneath the water, which gradually split the volcanoes into separate islands.

But even though Maui Nui no longer exists as a single island, its presence is still felt. Species spread across its land mass before it separated, so the four islands that resulted have very similar flora and fauna [source: Hawaii Volcano Observatory].

7. Ferdinandea - Disappeared and Reappeared Many Times

1831 eruption of now-underwater Ferdinandea. Image: Constant Prévost et al/Wikimedia Commons.

As far as lost islands go, Ferdinandea - about 19 miles (31 kilometers) off the southern coast of Sicily - is a particularly odd example. That's because throughout history, the island, which actually is the tip of a submerged volcano, has reappeared multiple times, only to disappear again beneath the waves before anyone can decide to which nation it belongs.

The first recorded emergence of Ferdinandea was in ancient times, when it rose above the waves after underwater volcanic eruptions during the first Punic War in 264-241 B.C.E. when the Romans and Carthaginians probably bickered about whom it belonged to.

In July 1831, thanks to more volcanic activity, Ferdinandea again appeared. It had a circumference of about 3 miles (5 kilometers) and rose about 213 feet (65 meters) above water level. Great Britain, Spain and the then-kingdom of Sicily all laid claim to it. Sicily's ruler Ferdinand II dubbed it Ferdinandea, after himself, while the British called it Graham Island, after James Graham, the second baronet of Netherby [sources: New York Times, Nethery].

Before they could resolve the matter, though, the island again sank below the water, six months after appearing. In 2002, heavy seismic activity made scientists think a re-emergence was likely. To get a jump on things, Sicilian divers planted a flag on the rock, hoping to claim it for Italy the minute it reappeared. But Ferdinandea stayed under water [source: The New York Times].

6. Tuanaki - A Place of Feasting and Dancing


In the 1840s, a man named Soma from the South Pacific's Cook Islands told missionaries that he'd visited an island called Tuanaki while working on the crew of a ship. He described having gone ashore to explore the island at the behest of his somewhat fearful captain, who gave him a sword to protect himself in case the inhabitants turned out to be hostile.

But when Soma found the locals, they turned out to be utterly convivial. "We don't fight, we only know how to dance," they told him. Eventually he brought the captain ashore, and they stayed for six days, feasting and returning to the ship laden with pork, yams, bananas, coconuts and other food. Soma recalled that island's residents had an living arrangement, in which men and women dwelled in separate houses [source: Maretu].

Soma said Tuanaki was located a day's journey, or about 62 miles (100 kilometers), from the island of Mangaia. The island was thought to be about half a square mile (1.3 square kilometers) [source: Nunn].

The missionaries were eager to visit Tuanaki. But on two separate voyages, in 1844 and again in 1856, they were unable to find it. Maybe it sank beneath the ocean, or perhaps Soma simply made up the whole story. However since other informants of the time also mentioned Tuanaki, some people think it really did exist [source: Nunn].

5. Bermeja - Vanished By Conspiracy?

1846 map showing Mexican phantom island Bermeja. Image: Henry S. Tanner/Wikimedia Commons.

Here's a geographical mystery for you. An island in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico has gone missing, and nobody has been able to figure out what happened to it.

The island of Bermeja appeared on maps from the 1500s to the 1700s, a tiny dot of land lying roughly 55 nautical miles (102 kilometers) off the northwest coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. It was too small to be of much interest to anybody until the 2000s, when the U.S. and Mexican governments both began to covet rich oil deposits in the Gulf of Mexico. Mexican legislators spotted the tiny island on some old maps, and realized that its presence would extend Mexico's territorial limits and give the country a claim to more of the oil.

The problem, though, was that when researchers from the National Autonomous University of Mexico started looking for the island from the air, they couldn't find it. Studies with underwater sensing devices couldn't locate a submerged land mass in that area, either. They concluded that contrary to the old maps, the island didn't actually exist.

Not everyone, though, was willing to accept the notion that old-time cartographers had simply made a mistake. A conspiracy theory took hold that the U.S. secretly had bombed the island and blown it to bits, in order to solidify its claim to the oil. However, Julio Zamora, president of Mexico's Society of Geography, told Lonely Planet it was common for mapmakers in the 16th and 17th centuries to create maps with errors so enemy countries would not use them [sources: Stevenson, Wilson].

4. Sandy Island - Bigger Than Manhattan, Never Existed

Image: Google Maps

Sandy Island, also known as Sable Island, is located between Australia and the French-controlled island of New Caledonia in the Coral Sea. It's depicted as being about 15 miles (24 kilometers) long and 45 square miles (117 square kilometers) in area, which makes it about one-and-a-half times the size of Manhattan [source: Krulwich].

Or at least that's what numerous maps - from a 1908 chart to Google Maps - have depicted over the years. The problem, though, is that when University of Sydney researchers sailed a ship into the area to visit Sandy Island in 2012, they didn't find anything except ocean.

"It's on Google Earth and other maps so we went to check and there was no island. We're really puzzled," one of the scientists, Dr. Maria Seton, explained in a 2012 BBC interview.

What's even odder, though, is that some people had reported seeing Sandy Island, though not recently. Back in 1772, British explorer James Cook passed close to it, and sailors on the British ship Velocity apparently saw it when they sailed by in 1876. But nobody ever actually set foot on it.

Now those accounts seem a bit fishy. The Australian researchers decided to visit the island because sonar maps of the sea floor showed very deep water where Sandy was supposed to be. As geologists, they wondered how a land mass could be floating on the surface, with no substructure or seamount beneath it. It just didn't seem plausible. And as it turns out, it wasn't [source: Krulwich].

Google Maps now describes Sandy Island as "non-existent" but still provides a ground-level view of a sandy beach.

3. Mauritia - Vanished in the Time of the Dinosaurs

Image: John Goodge/Wikimedia Commons

Mauritia, which was located in what is now the Indian Ocean, was a lost island that no person ever saw. That's because it vanished while dinosaurs walked Earth, long before humans existed. So how do we know it was ever there?

The story of Mauritia actually starts with Rodinia [pictured above], an ancient supercontinent that once included all of the dry land on Earth. About 750 million years ago, Rodinia started to fragment, and one of the pieces that broke loose was Mauritia. It was a quarter of the size of present-day Madagascar.

Mauritia existed for a long time. But 85 million years ago, as Earth's land continued to shift, the microcontinent started to break up. Eventually, it vanished into the ocean.

But pieces of Mauritia may remain, possibly on the floor of the Indian Ocean. There's probably also some of the lost island deep down in Earth, about 6 miles (10 kilometers) below modern Mauritius, a much smaller volcanic island in the Indian Ocean that appeared 9 million years ago. In 2013, scientists who'd analyzed sand from its beaches discovered the presence of minerals that were much, much older - about the age that you'd expect to find in a continental crust. That led them to figure out that Mauritia had once existed [source: Morelle].

2. Sarah Anne Island - Lost to Clerical Error


In 1858, a ship crew representing the New York Guano company - yes, there once was such an enterprise - was out searching in the Pacific for promising sources of bird poop fertilizer. They discovered a tiny island, which they named Sarah Anne and claimed for the company. They marked it down as latitude 4 north, longitude 154.22 west. Mariner's charts put it slightly to the northeast of Christmas Island.

Fifteen years later, the USS Portsmouth tried without success to find Sarah Anne Island at those coordinates. The U.S. government's official mapmakers, though, refused to concede that it didn't exist.

None of that really mattered much until 1937, when astronomers started preparing to observe an eclipse. The event would only last for seven minutes, and the scientists figured out that the only dry land in the Pacific that gave them a suitable vantage point during that time was Sarah Anne Island.

So the government mapmakers scrutinized the chart again. Their conclusion was that someone had written down the coordinates slightly wrong - it should have been latitude 4 south, which matched the coordinates for Independence Island (or Malden Island), another land mass that was near Christmas Island. So Sarah Anne became the only island ever to vanish due to clerical error [source: Associated Press].

1. Kane - A Peninsula That Was Once an Island

Image: Erkmen Senan/Wikimedia Commons

The Garip Islands [pictured above], a pair of tiny islands that lie in the Aegean Sea a few hundred yards off the coastline of Turkey, don't seem like they would be a very significant place. But back in 406 B.C.E., when they were called the Arginusae Islands, they were near the site of an important naval battle between Athens and Sparta in the Peloponnesian War.

The odd thing, though, is that ancient written sources indicate there actually were three Arginusae Islands, not two. The third supposedly was the site of the ancient port city of Kane. For years, scholars puzzled over that inconsistency, because the location now is a peninsula. Maps from the Ottoman Empire showed that it had been part of mainland Turkey since at least the 1500s.

Then, finally, in 2015, researchers discovered the answer. They drilled deep into the ground and discovered evidence - including the remains of an ancient harbor - that the peninsula actually had once been an island. Apparently, some time before the 1500s, earthquakes or sediment eroded from nearby farm fields and created a land bridge [source: Romeo].

Author's Note: I've been fascinated with the idea of lost islands since I first heard the British pop singer Donovan's 1969 single "Atlantis," which took considerable literary license with original legend described by Plato, and with Greek mythology in general. It also contains a wonderfully nonsensical reference to "my antediluvian baby" that's been puzzling me for decades.

Related Articles:

More Great Links:

Article Sources:
1. Anderson, Elizabeth S. "10 Forgotten Lands Submerged by the Ocean." Listverse. Feb. 28, 2015. (May 7, 2016)
2. Anadolu Agency. "Researchers set to discover Istanbul's lost island." Hurryiet Daily News. May 8, 2016. (May 8, 2016)
3. Associated Press. "Island claimed by India and Bangladesh sinks below waves." Guardian. March 24, 2010. (May 7, 2016)
4. Associated Press. "Pacific Island Was 'Missing' Because of a Clerical Error." Spokane Daily Chronicle. July 19, 1937. (May 7, 2016)
5. Associated Press. "Vanishing of Sarah Ann, Tiny Pacific Island, Causes Scientists Much Worry." Ludington Daily News. Oct. 16, 1932. (May 7, 2016)
6. Atherton, Matt. "Turkey: Lost ancient island of Vordonisi to be revealed 1,000 years after being submerged by earthquake." International Business Times. March 1, 2016. (May 7, 2016)
7. BBC News. "South Pacific Sandy Island 'proven not to exist'." Nov. 22, 2012. (May 8, 2016)
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Top image: NASA Blue Marble image of the non-existent Sandy Island (circled area). Credit: Strebe/Wikimedia Commons.

[Post Source: How Stuff Works. Edited. Some images added.]