If you've ever fallen down a Wikipedia clickhole while searching for creepy legends — ingesting page after page of ancient eeriness while hours slip away unnoticed — well, you've come to the right place. While many scary stories are nothing more than myth or folklore, there are some creepy legends that were proven true, thanks to the all-defining eye of science.
Throughout human history, science has been a useful tool for shedding light on previously misunderstood events and phenomena. Just because these myths from history are confirmed by science doesn't mean that they're any less shiver-inducing. On the contrary, many become eerier after one finds out that these hard-to-fathom stories are real.
With that in mind, let's explore these ancient myths based in fact, and celebrate the incredible, beautiful, and downright spooky world we live in.
According to some Hawaiian legends, Pele, the goddess of fire and volcanoes, immersed herself inside the shield volcano Kilauea to get away from her crazy older sister. Soon after, Kilauea became a hotspot of volcanic activity, and people regularly find Pele's tears and hair littered about the area.
Today, science tells us that Kilauea's eruptions are not the ravings of a buried younger sister, but what about the tears and hair? Researchers have concluded that these relics are made of volcanic fiberglass. When lava drops are flung into the air during an eruption, the wind catches and stretches them until they are morphed into hair-like or tear-like strands.
No, not "guest star" like Elizabeth Taylor on General Hospital or Brad Pitt on Friends. This guest star is a celestial body that was once a visitor in our skies, or at least that's how the astronomers and observers of the day described it.
In 1006, a moving object that changed color could be seen in the sky for several months. The Persian scholar Ibn Sina took particular note of the phenomenon, and his guess as to what it was proved stunningly spot-on. While his contemporaries searched for supernatural or spiritual meaning in the "guest star" Sina saw a supernova ablaze with color. Incidentally, the sparks of that supernova can still be seen today.
For centuries, Hampton Court Palace in London has been the home of numerous legends, most involving hauntings and ghost sightings. From the spectres of Jane Seymour (the wife of Henry VIII) to the infamous Grey Lady, Hampton Court has been an epicenter of supposed paranormal activity.
Despite its ghoulish prestige, the supernatural sensitivity of Hampton Court could be attributed to the property's erratic electromagnetic field. Weird magnetic forces can trick the brain into experiencing unexplainable sensations and feeling the presence of unseen forces. The question of why places like Hampton Court have unpredictable energy fields remains a mystery.
You've heard of Atlantis, right? The lost underwater city? Well this creepy myth could be the inspiration for the fabled sunken metropolis. The story of the disappearing island of Teonimanu starts with infidelity and ends with bloody revenge, as all good legends — and soap operas — do.
Long ago, Solomon Islander Roraimenu was scorned by his wife, who left him for another man from the nearby island of Teonimanu. Enraged and heartbroken, Roraimenu purchased a curse that he believed would help him get even. He then sailed to Teonimanu, where he he was instructed to plant two Taro plants.
According to the curse, once the plants sprouted, Teonimanu and all of its inhabitants would be destroyed. Lo and behold, when the Taro plants sprouted, Teonimanu sank to the bottom of the ocean.
Sound absurd? Well, it's not. Teonimanu was a real place. It did indeed disappear, but no one is quite sure of when. What probably happened was that an undersea earthquake shocked the island's weak foundation, causing it to collapse and sink into the ocean. Mystery solved!