Wonder is everywhere. That’s why, every other week, Atlas Obscura drags you down some of the rabbit holes we encounter as we search for our unusual stories. We highlight surprising finds, great writing, and inspiring stories from some of our favorite publications.
by Silas Valentino, SFGATE
For 40 years, the desert town of Eagle Mountain, on the outskirts of Joshua Tree National Park, has stood largely empty, a backdrop for apocalyptic Hollywood films and trespassers’ YouTube videos. Now, SFGATE reports, a mysterious company has purchased the former mining town for $22.5 million—for an unknown purpose.
by Carin Leong, Hakai Magazine
In the 1980s, wild pigs—one of the world’s most invasive species—disappeared from mainland Singapore due to hunting and urbanization. To the surprise of scientists, they’ve staged a comeback, swimming from off-shore islands to repopulate the country.
by Cullen Murphy, The Atlantic
The Atlantic’s Cullen Murphy wanders the Vatican Museums after dark, from the Anima Mundi gallery, which museum officials often call “the next Sistine Chapel,” to the renowned chapel itself. “Its most striking aspect when you enter alone and in weak light, is not the frescoed ceiling, but the sheer expanse of floor,” Murphy writes. “This is the tessellated floor that Michelangelo would have known—the one that received any droppings of paint that missed the scaffolding or his face.”
by Sam Tabachnik, Denver Post
For nearly two decades, archaeologists have been searching for Monument 9, or the “Earth Monster,” a 2,000-pound stone carved by the people of the ancient Olmec civilization. It was stolen from the central Mexican state of Morelos in the late 1950s or early 1960s, exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in the 1970s, and then lost. Discovered in a private collection in Colorado, the artifact was repatriated to Mexico last week, where it will go on display at the Palace of Cortés in Cuernavaca.
by Leo Sands, Washington Post
During a routine valuation of a private art collection, an auctioneer discovered the two small paintings attributed to the Dutch master that have not been viewed by the public since 1824. In fact, researchers could find only one reference to the works over the last two centuries. They will be on display in New York and Amsterdam in June, before going up for auction in London.
by the Associated Press
On March 1, Joseph Dituri moved into the Jules’ Undersea Lodge, 30 feet deep in a lagoon in Key Largo, Florida. Seventy-four days later—on May 15—he set a new record for living underwater without depressurization. And he’s still down there.
by Jo Lawson-Tancred, Artnet News
In 2019, $119 million dollars of jewels were stolen from Dresden’s Green Vault Museum (Grünes Gewölbe) in an elaborately planned theft. In court, the men on trial expressed surprise they’d gotten away with the daring scheme at all. After a 47-day trial, five of the six defendants were convicted and some—but not all—of the jewels have been returned to the museum.