The mysteries surrounding Antarctica have captured the imagination of the world. Since sailors spotted it in the early 19th century and its official discovery in 1821, the inhospitable desert of Antarctica has fueled scientific research and collaborative efforts between a multitude of nations. But the continent of Antarctica is home to a host of surprising conspiracy theories like secret alien bases, thriving ancient human civilizations, a massive entrance to the hollow Earth, and so much more.
Here are 10 fascinating, and unfounded, conspiracy theories surrounding the world’s largest desert.
10. Aliens and UFOs
Prolific UFO hunter Scott C. Waring believes he’s discovered an alien spaceship buried in the ice of the Antarctic. But if you’re thinking that Mr. Waring traveled there himself to bear the harsh elements, you’d be wrong. He, and many other conspiracy theorists, prefer to comb the Antarctic wastes for anomalies using only their keen eyes… and Google Earth.
Another researcher (also using Google Earth) claims that he’s found an ancient 4-meter-tall alien frozen on the Antarctic surface. This person also claims that there appears to be a doorway lying several feet from the giant’s feet.
There are tons of images like this (ripped straight from Google Earth) floating around conspiracy websites (like godlikeproductions.com) which show various anomalies that appear to be ships, bunkers, domes, or even flying saucers.
However, scientists and psychologists suggest that these conspiracy theories are nothing more than the expression of pareidolia. Humans — and yes, this means you and us — tend to seek meaning in nature, and we often like to see that we’re being represented by our surroundings. The most famous case of this was the discovery of the face on Mars. While the images originally taken of Cydonia do look convincingly humanoid, images taken from other angles (by spacecraft and satellites sent to the Red Planet) reveal that Cydonia is just a mountain. No human face to be found.
9. Hollow Earth Entrance
First proposed in the 17th century by Edmond Halley (and later disproved by anyone practicing geological science), the Hollow Earth conspiracy theory suggests that our Earth is just that, hollow. There are several variations of the theory, but the most popular one resembles the fiction presented in Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne, in which the interior of the Earth is made up of different livable sections (some containing dinosaurs and other extinct animals). All versions of the theory propose a miniature sun at the center of the Earth.
But many conspiracy theorists believe that there are multiple entrances to the Hollow Earth in Antarctica, and they claim that the proof is in a long-lost diary left by late Naval Officer, Admiral Richard Byrd.
The diary details Byrd’s alleged meeting with an advanced civilization beneath the Antarctic continent (specifically, beneath the south pole). According to this “diary” Byrd was commanded to keep quiet about the things he’d seen during his time on the frozen continent.
Byrd famously put together Operation Highjump, which was a military expedition meant to establish a training and research facility in Antarctica. According to this secret diary, Byrd met with the leader of the ancient civilization of Agharta, who was simply called “The Master.” The Master and his people were concerned about the surface world’s use of atomic weapons in World War II and claimed that they’d sent their flying machines (flying saucers?) out to investigate. The Master said that his people had sent messages to each of the world’s governments, and they were not willing to heed their warnings.
The so-called “secret diary” can still be found on Amazon and can be printed off for free in certain parts of the internet. The general consensus on the diary is that it’s an elaborate hoax and was obviously not written by Byrd.
8. Antarctic Ice-Wall and Airplanes
The Flat Earth Society has members all around the globe and they’re organizing an expedition to what they call “the ice-wall.” You see, Flat Earthers don’t believe that the Earth is round, they believe that it’s actually flat. We could probably spend an entire article on the wacky things Flat Earthers believe, but for the purposes of this one, we’ll focus on their belief that Antarctica isn’t real, and that it’s actually just a massive ice-wall, meant to keep “sheeple” or “globe-heads” (you and us) from exploring beyond the continents available to us.
The idea is that Antarctica is the very edge of what Flat Earthers call “the dome” which is a large glass structure covering all of the lands we know of. They don’t believe that you can just peer over the edge, though. The current “theory” is that the “ice-wall” is occupied by military forces who will shoot anyone on sight if they come too close. This is, of course, to prevent anyone from laying eyes on the vast number of lands beyond the wall.
A companion to this idea is the conspiracy theory that no airplanes can fly over Antarctica for this very reason. Search the internet for Flat Earth conspiracy info and you’ll more than likely run across memes, GIFs, and conspiracy videos claiming that there are zero flight paths over Antarctica. It’s often claimed that all flight plans only make sense when accounting for a Flat Earth.
This isn’t true, of course. Commercial flights may not fly over Antarctica (this is for safety reasons), but special charter flights for tourists do, and they cover the entire continent too.
7. No, wait. Antarctica is actually real?
Flat Earthers believe all kinds of crazy things. And while many of them believe in the ice-wall conspiracy, there is a growing sect that claims that Antarctica isn’t the ice-wall after all, that it’s actually the center of the infinite plane.
They still believe that there is an ice-wall and that it goes on forever, but Antarctica is real to them.
6. The Illuminati Coverup in Antarctica
Conspiracy theorists are quick to suggest that any image artifact is a dome (populated by ancient aliens), a ship, or a large alien facility. Well, conspiracy theorists believe that the reason why the mainstream sciences all discredit aliens, UFOs, and The Hollow Earth beneath Antarctica is that “the powers that be” are keeping them under wraps.
That’s right. The Illuminati (a group of powerful individuals who secretly control the world) are hiding UFOs, ancient alien pyramids, and the Hollow Earth from all of us. Internet conspiracy theorists claim that some random fringe researcher named Clif High has insider knowledge that climate change and a magnetic pole reversal is causing evidence of these conspiracies to be revealed and that once the ice solidifies over the new south pole, there will be no way for the Illuminati to cover it up any longer.
5. Antarctica is Actually Atlantis
Conspiracy theorists love YouTube videos. We came across this one claiming that Antarctica was actually Atlantis and that the whole continent moved into its current place over 2,000 years ago. The “theory” is called Crustal Displacement, and conspiracy theorists use this and the scientific fact that Antarctica was not always covered in ice to suggest that there must have been human civilizations there.
Conspiracy theories surrounding Atlantis like to claim that the mythical city was actually a bastion for advanced science and technology (some suggesting that it was run by aliens) and that it sank into the ocean after a great cataclysm.
The IceBridge mission is a giant undertaking. NASA is attempting to create a thorough three-dimensional map of both Greenland and Antarctica to help better track the effects of climate change.
Conspiracy theorists combing NASA’s IceBridge mission photos claim that they’ve found irrefutable evidence that the mythical city is in Antarctica. They also suggest that a map made by Turkish Admiral Piri Reis in 1513 of a landmass remarkably similar to Antarctica is definitive proof that Atlantis was located there, but of course, scientists are highly skeptical that the city was ever anything more than a myth.
4. Pyramids in Antarctica
Humans love them some pyramids. The Great Pyramid in Giza is home to a great many conspiracy theories (many of which claim it was built by aliens), but Antarctica is home to plenty of conspiracies surrounding ancient pyramids too.
Lots of hungry UFO and anomaly hunters have combed over Google Earth images, and have found plenty of image artifacts in Antarctic mountains which do admittedly look very pyramid-like. They even claim that there’s leaked video of US Marines exploring these alleged pyramids (though, some keen observers have noted that the uniforms soldiers wear in the video are in-fact German and that Marines would not be sent to Antarctica in the first place). The pyramids look strikingly similar to those found in Egypt (almost as if someone imported them from Google Earth and layered them with CGI).
The last shot of the video features soldiers in the cockpit of a helicopter heading toward a massive entrance to one of the pyramids.
The video itself appears to be new, so no one has come forward to claim it as a fabrication (yet); but scientists are quick to suggest that the existing images of alleged Antarctic pyramids are a result, once again, of pareidolia, that these are nothing more than natural land formations (much like Cydonia on Mars).
3. Magnetic Pole Shift
It’s a scientific fact that the Earth’s magnetic poles flip every so often, but these are on immense timescales.
Don’t tell that to conspiracy theorists, though. They think that impending doom is coming, and that the poles could shift as early as tomorrow. They will claim that the South Atlantic anomaly and wandering magnetic north pole are all symptoms of this. They will then tell you that the magnetic field will collapse during this time, exposing us all to harmful cosmic rays, the Earth’s crust will liquify (whatever that means), and that the Earth will never be the same.
But rest easy because scientists don’t think a pole reversal is coming anytime soon. The last one occurred at least 780,000 years ago, but there is little evidence to suggest that a reversal is happening now.
Little is actually understood about how the Earth’s dynamo works, but evidence suggests that the South Atlantic Anomaly is a normal phenomenon, caused by different parts of Earth’s dynamo vying for dominance. In fact, scientists now think that the last pole reversal took 22,000 years to complete.
2. The Megalodon Lives!
Until about 2.6 million years ago, the Megalodon swam the waters around Antarctica. It could grow up to 18 meters in length and preyed primarily on whales and large fish. But videos surfacing of what looked like a massive shark swimming the Mariana Trench caught conspiracy theorists’ eyes and now they’re claiming that the massive seafaring animals are still alive. There have been other sightings, and much like the Loch Ness Monster, none have laid eyes on the beast, but is it possible that the megalodon still swims the Antarctic seas?
Scientists say it’s highly unlikely. But isn’t that what they want you to think?
1. Nazi UFOs
The idea that the Germans had a vested interest in creating bases in Antarctica in World War II is not really a new one, and it’s one that’s actually based in fact. Germans consumed large quantities of margarine (yeah, you read that right), but one of the most important ingredients in it and other popular products was whale oil. At the time, Germany’s main source of whale oil was imported from various countries. This didn’t sit right with Hitler, who foresaw supplies being cut off in the near future. Long story short, Nazi Germany established whaling bases in Antarctica in order to supply their own whale oil.
But there is a pervasive conspiracy theory on the internet which suggests that the Nazis still have bases in Antarctica… and that they have UFOs.
The theory suggests that while exploring the Antarctic, the Germans discovered huge underground caverns and lakes which would become massive cities where they and others would thrive long after the war ended. They would then go on to create incredible technologies in their exile from the world and would make contact with aliens. The Nazis would then learn how to use that technology and reverse engineer it.
There are many problems with this idea, but chief among them is that the expedition sent to Antarctica was extremely small, and only intended to expand Germany’s whaling industry. It’s also important to note that the Nazi’s didn’t return to Antarctica at any time during the war. The expedition was small, too, consisting of one small ship and a small crew (with one lowly Nazi officer aboard). Nazi Germany also signed the Antarctic treaty, which forbade the use of Antarctic land for militaristic purposes. Conspiracy theorists often claim that this was an elaborate ruse meant to dissuade other nations from coming to the south pole, but the fact remains that Germany did not return to Antarctica until 1959.