With the almost insane amount of pictures taken on a daily basis around the world these days, it’s quite hard to say that there’s such a thing as a rare one. That same thing certainly doesn’t apply for past photos. But regardless of whether they’re past or present, there are some rare pictures out there that you should definitely see. And that’s because, as we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, unless you’re standing in front of the bathroom mirror, trying to subtly flex so you can impress strangers on Instagram.
10. Maradona’s Hand of God
It was on June 22 during the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico that history was written, and past injustices were avenged – or so the Argentinians say. It was Argentina facing England in the quarter-finals and tensions were running high among the 115,000 fans in the stadium. It was only four years earlier that the two countries were again engaged, but in a totally different way. That was during the Falkland War, fought over the islands in the South Atlantic – a short, but brutal conflict that ended with Argentina’s defeat. So, as you can imagine, the match was for far more than just the chance at the title. Luckily for Argentina, however, they were playing their greatest footballer ever – Diego Armando Maradona.
Six minutes into the second half and the man-legend himself was in the penalty area with the ball flying towards him. The English goalkeeper was charging forward to punch the ball away, only for Maradona to somehow head it over him and into the goal. The crowd went wild! After the match, however, he jokingly commented that the goal was “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.” As you can see in the photo, he wasn’t a particularly tall player, only 5-foot-4, and so he made use of his left hand so he could reach it. Just in case you’re unaware, unless you’re the goalie using your hands in soccer (or football, if you like) is very illegal. And almost everyone, his teammates included, saw it, with the exception of the referee. Maradona later said that “I was waiting for my teammates to embrace me, and no one came… I told them: ‘Come hug me, or the referee isn’t going to allow it.” That goal later became known as the Hand of God.
And to make matters even worse for the English, only four minutes later Maradona scored another goal, voted in 2002 as the Goal of the Century. The match ended 2-1 for Argentina, and they went on the win the World Cup. After the England match Maradona said that “Although we had said before the game that football had nothing to do with the Falklands war, we knew they had killed a lot of Argentine boys there, killed them like little birds. And this was revenge.”
9. The Night Prohibition Ended
It’s somewhat amazing and funny to see a group of grown men and women looking like a bunch of kids who just turned 21. And it’s not like most of those people in the photo weren’t drinking any alcohol throughout the Prohibition Era, but they could now do it legally. Soon after the end of WWI, Congress passed the 18th Amendment into law, prohibiting the sale and manufacture of alcohol all throughout the United States. Originally intended to crack down on crime, drunkenness and lewd behavior, Prohibition ended up doing the exact opposite in most respects.
While alcohol consumption did fall by nearly 70% during the early years, it nevertheless gave rise to organized crime. The years that followed weren’t called The Roaring Twenties for nothing, you know. Underground speakeasy lounges opened up all over the place, and the country experienced a high rise in smuggling and bootlegging. It is estimated that around 10,000 people died of alcohol poisoning during the Prohibition Era from bootleg whiskey and tainted gin. The government even poisoned alcohol in order to scare potential drinkers. Some grape growers, who didn’t replace their vineyards with orchards, opted instead for manufacturing juice concentrates to be sold in brick form. Consumers would dissolve those bricks in water and get grape juice. But there was a clear warning on the label to not leave the solution to ferment for 21 days or it would otherwise turn into wine. And a good thing the warning was there, too – you know, for the consumer’s safety.
It was during Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency that the 18th Amendment was repealed on December 5, 1933, as a way to raise taxes during the Great Depression that began several years earlier. Some states maintained the ban on alcohol many years after 1933, with Mississippi being the last to start legally selling alcohol again in 1966. But some counties spread throughout 10 states still ban it to this day. One such county is incidentally the one where Jack Daniel’s whiskey is produced.
8. What Does an Upside-down Iceberg Look Like?
As most of us know, icebergs only show about 10 percent of their actual size, with the rest being submerged underwater. And that upper part that we normally see is heavily weathered by the elements and is always covered in snow. But as filmmaker Alex Cornell would come to see on a trip to Antarctica in 2014, the underbelly of an iceberg is even more incredible than its upper part. It has a stunning aqua-green color with different shades of blue and green pressed in different layers. And not to mention the liquid water that flows through it “almost like an ant colony,” as Cornell described it. The reason the iceberg has that amazing color is because the ice is ancient. Over many thousands of years, as snow piles on the ice, the one at the bottom forces all the air pockets out. In this state, heavily compacted ice absorbs a tiny amount of red light, giving it this bluish tint. And to see something like this is rare, even in iceberg country.
But as one of the scientists present on the ship said, this phenomenon could happen more often as time goes on. In the past, the ice sheets would extend for miles out to sea, and when icebergs did break off, they did it more calmly. But with the more recent increases in temperature, that no longer happens and the ice breaks off almost immediately after it no longer touches land. “Like squirting toothpaste out of a tube. A little bit of toothpaste comes out the tube, then it breaks off, and a little bit more comes out the tube, then it breaks off. So you get these really thin pieces of ice that flip over right when they’ve broken off,” explains Justin Burton, an assistant professor at Emory University.
7. Too Revealing?
Back in the 1920s lady beachgoers were being arrested by the police for wearing swimsuits that were too revealing. But were these bathing suits too revealing? The short answer is… yes. Kind of. For the time. When looking at past events, it’s easy for us to judge them by our present standards, but as any good historian can tell you, you shouldn’t. Analyzing history based on our current views of the world is known as presentism and should be avoided if you really want to understand the events that happened back then. By looking at things through our present-day lens, we basically remove that particular event out of its own context and we end up judging those people for things that didn’t belong in their time or way of thinking.
In this photo, two women were being arrested by the police on July 12, 1922 for defying a Chicago edict that forbade “abbreviated bathing suits.” At the same time in New York, 20 female special deputies known as “Sheriffettes” were patrolling the beaches looking for ‘too much skin.’ In 1921, a woman was arrested in Atlantic City for wearing her stockings rolled down below the knees. When a police officer demanded that she roll them back up, she refused and ended up punching him in the eye. But looking at the broader picture, women’s bathing suits in the early 1900s were made out of wool, incredibly cumbersome, and had high necks, long sleeves, skirts, and pants. Not even men were allowed to be bare-chested, with the authorities saying that they didn’t want “gorillas on our beaches.” So, these suits could have easily been considered as “abbreviated” back then.
In any case, in 1908 came film star Annette Kellerman who got arrested on a beach in Massachusetts for wearing a one-piece body suit that showed her neck and arms. She brought it back from England and it was somewhat similar to men’s swimsuits at the time. By the 1930s and with the arrival of new clothing materials such as nylon and latex, swimsuits lost their sleeves and began hugging the body more. They also had shoulder straps that could be lowered for tanning.
6. Two Unlikely Partners in Crime
In November 2016, the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center posted several photos of a coyote and a badger working together for their common good. Interspecies collaboration is uncommon in nature, but not unheard of. And when it does happen, it’s usually between prey animals trying to increase their chances of survival, and not between the predators themselves. But in what can only be described as ‘synergy at its finest’, here we have two different predators working together to catch food for themselves. Even though the two were also spotted hunting alone, they do team up on occasion – and most often so during summer.
On the one hand, we have the coyote, who is an excellent runner and can catch prey trying to escape. But if that prey has a burrow in which to hide, then it’s game over for the coyote. Luckily, his friend the badger is an excellent digger, so if that happens and the prey runs into a hole, he then takes over the operation and gets the job done. While studying the pair, the researchers have come to the conclusion that by working together, not only do the two have a greater chance of actually catching something, but they also spend a lot less energy in doing so. So, maybe there’s a lesson in there for all of us on the merits of teamwork and cooperation.
5. The Day Sweden Switched Lanes
It wasn’t that long ago that the Swedes were driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, so on the 3rd of September, 1967, they changed it to the right side… literally. This day came to be known as H Day, where the “H” stands for “Högertrafik” – the Swedish word for “right traffic.” Now, even though the photo gives the impression that everything was in chaos, it actually wasn’t as bad as it looks. Four years before the switch happened, the Swedish government appointed a special committee to oversee the transition. They implemented an extensive education program, they advertised the change on milk cartons and even on women’s underwear. Several days before H Day, they put out over 130,000 reminder signs, as well as flyers on people’s windshields. During the night in question, the traffic was shut down for several hours across the country, over 360,000 road signs were changed, and the drivers were then instructed to change lanes once everything was in place. Only 157 minor accidents were reported on H Day with only 32 personal injuries.
The reason for the change was logical, even though many people didn’t really want it in the first place. For starters, most other European countries, Sweden’s neighbors included, were driving on the right-hand side already. Secondly, most cars in Sweden were imported from the United States and they already had left-side driver seats. In the early days, this mismatch of left-side steering wheel and left-hand roads proved to be an advantage for the Swedes because they had more to worry about with the poor conditions of the side of the roads than oncoming traffic, but by the 1960s this was no longer a problem. And lastly, the country witnessed a tripling of the number of cars in ten years and they were expecting to double again by 1975. So, they decided to make the switch before that happened. The change also brought with it a steep drop in road accidents, particularly during overtaking, or those involving pedestrians. The insurance claims also went down by as much as 40%.
4. The 110 Million-Year-Old Statue
When discovered, most dinosaur fossils look just like a pile of rocks, and only a trained eye can distinguish one for what it actually is. And in the vast majority of cases, these fossils are no more than mere fragments or partial skeletons. But back in 2011, every paleontologist’s wet dream came true when this 2,500-pound dinosaur fossil was unearthed in Canada’s Millennium Mine in Alberta. The fossil was so well preserved it even bears the tile-like plates and parts of its skin. This not only helped scientists have a far more detailed look at an actual dinosaur, but it also offered information regarding its color. Because, believe it or not, we still don’t know what color dinosaurs were, and all depictions we see of them are only based on informed speculation. Nevertheless, this dinosaur seems to have had a reddish or reddish-brown color, which was in contrast to its light colored horns.
When alive, this nodosaur stretched more than 18 feet long and weighed close to 3,000 pounds. The herbivore sported a tough, thorny armor on its back and two 20-inch-long spikes coming out of its shoulders, somewhat similar to bull horns. It is estimated to have lived sometime between 112 to 110 million years ago, during the mid-Cretaceous period, and most likely suffered a tragic end. Paleontologists speculate that it was swept out to sea, possibly during a flash flood, and once it sank to the bottom, minerals quickly infiltrated its skin and bones, turning the dinosaur into stone. Some pebble-like masses found inside the carapace were, most likely, the dinosaur’s last meal. Today, the statue-like fossil is at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Canada.
3. 41 Klansmen and a Ferris Wheel
This photo was taken in Cañon City, a small mining town in central Colorado, on April 27, 1926. One interesting thing about it is that it wasn’t until 1991, when it was donated to the Royal Gorge Museum & History Center in Cañon City, someone else (other than those Klansmen in the photo and some of their friends and family) had the chance to see it. And it took another 12 years before the photo somehow made it from the museum’s archives to the internet in 2003. The reason this is interesting is because the local newspaper ran a story called “Klansmen pose for picture on merry-go-round” without actually adding the picture. But regardless of the fact that it took this photo decades before people could actually see it, it nevertheless represents a somewhat crucial point in American history. And a hopelessly inaccurate newspaper headline, because geez, that’s totally not a merry-go-round.
That year was the KKK’s zenith in power, popularity, and influence over the country. By the mid-’20s the Klan had somewhere between 4 to 5 million members, or about 15% of the country’s entire eligible population. And what’s more, Cañon City was the Klan’s capital back then. The state’s governor was a Klansmen, the senator was openly endorsed by the KKK, the mayor of Denver had links with them, and the town’s Baptist Reverend, Fred Arnold, was the actual Grand Dragon. Now, even though their attire is identical, and the bigoted beliefs are similar, the 1920s version of the KKK was notably different than the Klan that emerged during the 1960s in the South.
For starters, the old-school Klansmen focused their attention on Catholics more than black people; they strongly supported Prohibition, and mostly used intimidation rather than actual violence to deter new immigrants. The end of WWI saw a great deal of immigration, mainly from Italy and other Southern European states, and the Protestants were afraid to lose their jobs because of them. But two years after this photo was taken, the Klan would all but disappear. In 1928, the Reverend Grand Dragon died unexpectedly, and with no succession plan in place, the KKK lost most of its influence in both politics and the general population.
2. Two Afghan Medical Students and Their Teacher
When looking at this photo of two female medical students listening to their female professor as they’re examining a plaster mold, Afghanistan doesn’t seem to be the first place that comes to mind, does it? But back in the mid-1950s, ’60s and early ’70s, the country was going through a period of relative peace and prosperity, spared for a brief moment in time from the many internal conflicts and foreign interventions that had plagued it for decades before, and have since. These two decades in Afghanistan’s history saw the biggest strides made by its people towards a more liberal and westernized way of life.
The country remained neutral during WWII and didn’t align with either of the two superpowers during the Cold War that followed. It nevertheless was the beneficiary of aid from both the US and the Soviet Union, who were trying to ‘court’ it to their side. Modern buildings began to spring up all throughout Kabul and burqas became optional for a while. If Afghanistan would have been allowed several more decades of social and economic stability, it would have been unrecognizable by comparison to today’s actual look. Unfortunately, however, things were not to last. Foreign pressure, military coups, subsequent invasions, and ensuing civil wars have made Afghanistan into what it is today – and the war still wages on. If anything, this photo shows what peace, even if it’s short lived, does to people.
1. Savage Capitalism
The buffalo, America’s most iconic animal (second only to the bald eagle) was nearly hunted to extinction by the late 19th century. Once, more than 60 million head strong, their numbers were reduced to only 100 by the early 1880s. The reasons for its systematic extermination were, first and foremost, industrialization and expansion. The Great Plains Indian tribes, most notably the Comanche, were standing in the way of the Americans’ expansion for decades and the best way to deal with them was to deprive them of their main source of food, which was the buffalo. Up until the 1860s, the Indians were hunting them at about a rate of 280,000 head per year – which was around the maximum of the sustainability limit the buffalo population could provide. But in the winter of 1872 to 1873 alone, more than 1.5 million hides were shipped out East. The motivation for this government-endorsed mass killing was the many factories springing up on the East Coast and the ever increasing need for industrial belts, and other everyday leather products.
Hunters were paid $3.50 ($110 today) per hide and could singlehandedly kill an entire herd in mere hours. They would choose a vantage point farther away and then shoot them one by one until all of them were dead. People were even doing it from trains traveling to and from the East and West Coasts, so as to entertain themselves. Many Indians were in on it too, even to the bitter end. And once the proud beasts were all dead, they were skinned and their carcasses left to rot where they fell. Once whitened under the scorching sun, the bones were collected and sent to be turned into fertilizer for the now buffalo and Indian-free Great Plains.
But Mother Nature had a rather ironic way of returning the favor to the savage capitalists. There was a delicate balance struck between the many buffalo herds and the Great Plains themselves, put there by countless eons of coevolution. And when the buffalo were all gone, and together with the intensive agriculture that followed, the topsoil slowly began to erode, leading to the devastating Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Many people died of dust pneumonia, malnutrition, and other complications. America then saw the greatest mass migration in its history, with over 2.5 million people moving to other places, and at a time when the country was already going through the Great Depression no less. Some scientists now fear that with the current climate trends, another Dust Bowl may be looming just over the horizon.