Ten fascinating things on Earth you never knew existed: why they’re bizarre

The Earth is wonderfully weird. From tiny puddle-dwelling creatures that can survive in outer space to paint so dark your eyes can’t even see it, the Earth is full of a lot of strange and incredible things.

Here are some things on this planet you probably had no idea existed.

Vantablack is the darkest known substance in the universe…

Vantablack is a nanomaterial that is darker than any other substance on Earth. It was developed in the UK by Surrey NanoSystems in 2015, and is basically a collection of vertical carbon tubes that are “grown” on a substrate. Vantablack absorbs 99.98% of the light that comes to the surface. This means that the human eye technically sees nothing when looking at Vantablack, making it the closest thing to looking at a black hole.

The “Blue Angel” sea lizard looks like an alien

Glaucus Atlanticus is a species of sea slug nicknamed the “Blue Angel”. This seemingly otherworldly creature is as rare as it is beautiful and is found only off the coasts of South Africa and Australia. This creature is carnivorous and feeds on other venomous sea creatures.

Aerogel looks like a slice of cloud

Aerogel is an ultra-thin material made of gel and gas. It has been nicknamed “frozen smoke” or “solid cloud” because of its ethereal appearance. Scientists have created more than a dozen recipes for different types of aerogel, but they all share a similar process: chemicals mixed together, allowed to set in a wet gel, and then the liquid sucked out. The result is an extremely low-density substance that’s actually 99% air.

The rainbow eucalyptus has candy-colored bark

The Eucalyptus Deglupta tree may look like it fell out of a Dr. Seuss book, but it actually grows in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines. This unique tree has multi-coloured bark that shows bright stripes of blue, orange, purple, green and brown. The unusual colours are given by the strips of bark peeling off, revealing the tree’s bright green inner bark. This inner layer slowly matures and turns a range of colours.

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There’s an underground cathedral in Colombia made entirely of salt

The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá is an underground Roman Catholic church in Cundinamarca, Colombia that was excavated from a salt mine in 1954. It is completely made of salt and is located 180 metres below the surface of the small town of Zipaquirá. The cathedral includes a huge salt cross and can seat up to 10,000 people, although it has never been filled to capacity.

Goblin sharks are “living fossils” that look like they came straight out of a nightmare

Goblin sharks are a rare species of deep-sea sharks, sometimes referred to as “living fossils”. They are the only known remaining members of the ancient shark family Mitsukurinidae. Goblin sharks are distinguished by their distinctive elongated jaws, which are filled with nail-like teeth. They are able to detect electrical currents emitted by other animals and rapidly extend their jaws to snatch prey. This creature was the inspiration for Neomorph in Alien: Covenant.

Bismuth is an element with a psychedelic surface

You may remember the chemical element bismuth from high school chemistry class, but you probably have no idea that it has a colored, iridescent appearance. Bismuth has a unique growth pattern, in which the outer edges form faster than the inner areas, according to Live Science. This results in a crystal structure that appears to be made of interlocking rainbow squares.

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This volcano in Indonesia spews brilliant blue lava

Indonesia’s Kawah Ijen volcano is notable for its tendency to make waves of what appears to be blue and purple lava. Technically, the lava itself is not blue. According to Smithsonian magazine, the fascinating coloration comes from large amounts of sulfuric gas coming out with the lava.

The Voynich Manuscript is a mysterious book written in an untranslatable language…

The Voynich Manuscript is a 240-page medieval volume written in an unknown language that has baffled scholars. The manuscript is believed to have appeared sometime between 1404 and 1438. It is full of enigmatic illustrations and diagrams that seem to depict everything from unusual plants to swollen-bellied women bathing in green pools. All attempts to translate the text of the book or identify the plants described in it have failed.

The most inaccessible place in the world is called Point Nemo.

Point Nemo is the farthest point of land on Earth. Officially known as the oceanic point of inaccessibility, it is located in the centre of the triangle formed by Ducie Island, Motu Nui (part of the Easter Island chain) and Maher Island near Antarctica. It’s so far from land that the closest people to Point Nemo are usually astronauts – the International Space Station orbits Earth from about 458 miles away, while the closest place on Earth to Point Nemo is more than 2,670 miles away.

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