Top 10 Amazing Things Found Frozen in Ice



Top 10 Amazing Things Found Frozen in Ice

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Michael Wynands
There's a whole lot more than frozen water under your feet. For this list, we'll be looking at various fascinating objects and scientific discoveries made when exploring icy areas of the world. Our countdown includes Photos, Treasure, Woolly Rhino, and more!
Script Written by Michael Wynands

Top 10 Amazing Things Found Frozen in Ice

There’s a whole lot more than frozen water under your feet. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Amazing Things Found Frozen in Ice.

For this list, we’ll be looking at various fascinating objects and scientific discoveries made when exploring icy areas of the world. For the record, we’ll be including things that were discovered frozen and had to be dug up, as well as items previously frozen that were revealed as the result of ice thawing. For those of you looking for more sinister or unnerving icy discoveries, be sure to check out our list of the Top 20 Creepiest Things Found Frozen in Ice.

#10: Ancient Forests

When you think of frozen discoveries, it's usually artefacts and treasure that come to mind. And don’t worry, we’ve got those covered later in the list! But the discovery of forests, millions of years old, really makes you appreciate just how many mysteries our planet has yet to reveal to us. In 2013 a U.S. research team found the remains of an ancient forest, buried beneath more than a half mile of ice in Antarctica. What’s more, that forest continues to feed microbial life forms that thrive underground today. Meanwhile, in 2017, the discovery of more fossilized forest remains helped to shed further light on Antarctica's green past, while a 2020 research paper published on suggests that 90 million years ago, Antarctica was even home to its own temperate rainforest.

#9: Photos

Given that photography, even in its most rudimentary form, is only a couple hundred years old, this discovery might not seem as impressively old as some of the others today… but bear with us. Because these particular photos relate to Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated Antarctic voyage, from 1914 to 1917. Shackleton’s ship, Endurance, ultimately sank beneath the icy Weddell Sea… but there had been another ship - the Aurora - stationed on the other side of the continent and carrying the Ross Sea Party, a contingent sent to lay supply lines for the latter part of Shackleton’s never-realised trek across Antarctica. In 2013, a batch of negatives taken by the Ross Sea Party were discovered encased in ice in the hut of another famous explorer, Captain Robert Falcon Scott. The historic importance of these photos makes this one truly incredible discovery.

#8: Lifeforms in a Subglacial Lake

We might be living through the Anthropocene epoch, but for all of the world-dominating, technological advancements in human history, there are ancient microbes that put our survival skills to shame! Eastern Antarctica’s Lake Vostok is covered in a layer of ice roughly two miles deep, and has had some level of permanent ice coverage for no less than fifteen million years. So, when the ice finally gives way to liquid H20 below, the environment is a totally alien one. It’s devoid of sunlight, highly pressurized and is in fact below the usual freezing point of water in terms of temperature. And yet, there are thousands of microbial species that research suggests have been thriving here for millions of years in their own little bubble, two miles below the surface and totally cut off from the outside world.

#7: A Tunic from the Iron Age

Fashionable? Not so much! But considering how quickly modern clothing frays and tears, it’s impressive to think that this piece of Iron Age apparel has managed to survive for well over a thousand years. Found in the Oppland County mountains of Norway in 2011, the tunic in question has been dated as having been made some time between 230 and 390 AD. Dubbed the Lendbreen tunic, this roughly 1,700 year old woollen garb provides insight into the skills and lifestyle of people living in the area at this time. It even bears signs of having been patched by its one-time owner, probably centuries ago. It seems that people were far more hesitant to throw away clothing in the Iron Age.

#6: Treasure

Go traipsing through a frozen environment and you’re unlikely to suddenly trip over a treasure chest. Unless, of course, you’re playing “Breath of the Wild”. But hey, sometimes life actually does prove stranger than fiction, and in 2013, a French climber literally stumbled upon some $300,000 worth of precious gemstones while scaling Mont Blanc. How did they get there? Well, there were two plane crashes in the area, one in 1950 and another in 1966, so it’s likely the precious haul may have belonged to a passenger. Proving himself far more honest than most, the climber immediately handed the box of stones over to local authorities. The very next year, a treasure hunter found dozens more pieces of jewellery, likely from the same flight, scattered on the mountain, too.

#5: Atlatl Darts

Imagine an arrow. Okay, now imagine the longest arrow you’ve ever seen, be that in person or in film or television. Okay, now go ahead and take the arrow you have in mind and multiply it a few times over in terms of scale, and now you’ve got an atlatl. Looking like a cross between an arrow and throwing spear, the atlatl dart is a projectile weapon that was at one time launched using a lever-type tool to help increase distance and power. And researchers actually believe that they predate the use of the more standard bow and arrow setup. In 2010, a melting patch of ice in the Rocky Mountains of North America revealed an atlatl dart, and it was estimated to be 10,000 years old!

#4: A Graveyard of “Fish Lizard” Creatures

In 2014, a group of scientists working in Southern Chile uncovered a veritable treasure trove of bones from a long extinct species known as ichthyosaurs. Now seriously, just look at these things and try telling us that they aren’t best described as “fish lizards”. And, in fairness, that is actually what ichthyosaurs translates to in Greek. The remains of these marine reptiles, which comprised ALMOST fifty complete fossils, were found in Torres del Paine National Park, and came to light as a result of glacial melting. The fossils included male and female ichthyosaurs, and even some embryos! Adding to the excitement is the fact that the researchers managed to recover some soft tissue samples, as well.

#3: Woolly Rhino

Everyone’s heard of the woolly mammoth. As far as ice age animals go, they pretty much have a monopoly on the public consciousness. The woolly rhinoceros however, likes to play it more cool and casual, despite being a recurring character in the ancient cave art of the Upper Paleolithic period. It’s not uncommon for researchers to find woolly rhino remains, but complete carcasses tend to generate a bit more buzz. A woolly rhino calf, however? There’s only ever been one! Uncovered from the Sakha permafrost in Russia, in 2014, Sasha the woolly rhino was painstakingly studied and reconstructed over a period of years. Sasha’s gender still remains a mystery, but it's almost strawberry blonde fur, which surprised the scientific community, never fails to turn heads.

#2: Lyuba the Baby Mammoth

Yes… we’ve got a soft spot for prehistoric baby animals. Who doesn’t? Edging out Sasha due to the overwhelming popularity of mammoths and their elephant descendants, Lyuba secures second place today. Estimated to have walked what is now Russia some 41,800 years ago, Lyuba was uncovered purely by chance in 2007, when reindeer breeders and hunters stumbled upon the prehistoric body during an outing. While Lyuba isn’t the only one of her kind, she’s among the best-preserved mammoth mummies found to date (calf or otherwise), perhaps only matched in 2010 by Yuka, another mammoth also found in Russia. Though Lyuba only lived for an estimated 30 to 35 days, this precious little creature has made massive contributions to our understanding of her species.

Before we thaw out the most amazing thing found in ice, here are a few honorable mentions.

A Volcano
In The Early 2010s, A Volcano Was Found Below the Antarctic Ice... and it’s Active.

Copper Arrowheads
Found in Canada’s Yukon Territory, this Arrowhead is Dated at Nearly 900 Years Old.

An Island
In 2015, the Retreat of Greenland’s Steenstrup Glacier Revealed a New Island, Separate from the Mainland

Or Rather, Various Accessories and Viking Apparel

A Gopher stick
A Centuries-Old Stick Used for Trapping the Furry Creatures.

FAKEOUT #1: Captain America

As everyone knows, the superheroic Steve Rogers spent decades on ice before being brought back in the modern age! Less common knowledge? When researchers found him, he was chilling with Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender and the animal cast of “Ice Age”. Just kidding.

#1: 32,000-Year-Old Seeds

Unfortunately, most of the living things found frozen in ice aren’t nearly as easy to resuscitate as Captain America. If bringing back woolly mammoths were as simple as finding a body and giving it a quick microwave, you’d likely be able to see one at your local zoo today. But that’s what makes our top discovery so remarkable. In 2012, a team working in Siberia uncovered the seeds of a flowering plant, Silene stenophylla, that date back to the last ice age. And despite the odds, these seeds, buried some 124 feet deep in permafrost, successfully sprouted in the lab and have gone on to produce seeds of their own. This beats the previous record for recovered seeds by thirty thousand years!