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 Harry R. Rubenstein, National Museum of American History
In many of his most iconic images, President Abraham Lincoln’s bowtie is askew. Staff at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., wanted to know why. Was he bad at tying it? Were those around him too intimidated to straighten it? The answer, the museum discovered, was much more straightforward: It was stylish to be slightly off-kilter.
by Emma Marris, Hakai Magazine
Almost 50 years ago, conservationists reintroduced white-tailed eagles to Scotland—a controversial move among farmers on the Isle of Mull, whose sheep are prey for the thriving bird population. More than a generation later have the locals made peace with the birds and the tourists who flock to see them?
by Laura Baisas, Popular Science
A now-closed mine near the Argyle volcano in Western Australia is the source of 90 percent of the pink diamonds that have been discovered to date. But scientists could not explain why. A new study tries to get to the bottom of the phenomenon and may point to new deposits of the brightly colored gems.
by Katie Hunt, CNN
The world’s oldest-known wooden structure—believed to date back almost 500,000 years—was found along a river bank upstream from Kalambo Falls in Zambia. “It’s completely changed my view of what people were capable of at that time,” says one of the researchers.
by Jessica Arena, Times of Malta
In 1943, American Sergeant Irving R. Newman was declared missing in action when his bomber crashed off the coast of Malta. The plane’s wreckage was located in 2018, but it was another five years before a team of Maltese archaeologists was able to retrieve Newman’s remains from the site, almost 200 feet underwater.
by Dave Kindy, Washington Post
No one at the Pascack Historical Society in northern New Jersey knew if the three-foot-long cylinder of wood—found at a local garage sale—was really from the mast of USS Maine, until a retired history teacher decided to solve the decades-old mystery.
by Alex Marshall, The New York Times
The Armour Centre at Bovington Camp attracts to southwest England tank aficionados who hope to see a military training exercise. The nearby Bovington Tank Museum draws those who don’t necessarily need to see the vehicles in action. It has also attracted 100 million YouTube views, giving the small museum more of an audience than MOMA, the Met, and the Louvre.
by Andrew Chamings, SFGate
At the top of Devil’s Slide, a coastal peak in Pacifica, California, is a precariously perched World War II bunker that has long attracted trespassing graffiti artists. At the bottom of the steep cliff, drone and satellite imagery has revealed, is a mysterious driftwood structure, with several levels and rooms, and a solitary wooden chair facing the Pacific Ocean.