Nature is beautiful yet powerful. It is a force to be reckoned with, unfortunately, at times it leaves destruction in its path.  Although, amidst the devastation that may occur, sometimes interesting, valuable or just cool things are uncovered.

Here are 10 awesome historic finds uncovered by nature:

1. Megalodon Tooth on Myrtle Beach

Hurricane Matthew was a strong hurricane that raced through the south and east Atlantic in October 2016. After all was said and done, a Virginia couple walking along North Myrtle Beach and came across an amazing artifact. Local news reported the couple, who vacation annually in the Myrtle Beach area, were out looking for shark teeth after the storm. [1] They were using strainers and the man saw something unusual out of the corner of his eye. The couple then took the 5-inch long find to Ripley’s Aquarium to have it looked by an aquarist. The aquarist said it was from a Megalodon, making it millions of years old. 

Megalodon tooth with great white sharks teeth
Credit: Via Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Megalodon tooth size comparison to great white shark's teeth

2. Ancient Trees on the Isle of Man

In 2014, the United Kingdom and surrounding region experienced unusually stormy weather. These storms, which “battered” coastlines, uncovered a remarkable piece of the past. According to BBC News, a “chaotic” collection of tree trunks, branches and pine cones were found after the sea washed away large portions of the cliffs at Cranstal, which are located at a beach in one of the northernmost sections of the Isle of Man. [4]  Covered up all this time by 16 feet (5 meters) of sand and clay, remnants of the ancient forest survived.  Experts believe the trees are 10,000 years old.

Ancient forestry appeared after the Isle of Man experienced unusually stormy weather

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Cranstal, Isle of Man

3. Fire Island Shipwreck

Hurricane Sandy was a devastating storm that ripped through the east and northeastern sections of the United States. Its aftermath has been felt for years. Yet, amidst the destruction in Sandy’s path, an early 20th century schooner was fully unearthed on Fire Island. It is believed (but not 100 percent certain) these are the remains of the Bessie White, a Canadian coal schooner that sunk in either 1919 or 1922 (there are conflicting records on the date). [2]

The Bessie White went aground by pre-dawn fog on a winter’s morning and quickly filled with water. The crew all survived and much of the ship was salvaged before the wreck washed to sea. The ship had not been seen in its entirety since, until after Sandy’s strength unearthed a large ship hull, completely exposing it. Experts are studying the ship before it is once again buried with sand. [3]

The Wreck of the Bessie White
Credit: U.S. National Park Service (NPS)

It is believed this is the remainder of the Bessie Smith after the ship went aground in the early 20th century.

4. Ancient Footprints in Norfolk

Storms and heavy winds in the United Kingdom in 2013 briefly uncovered the footprints of people who walked the earth hundreds of thousands of years ago. [5] The footprints, found along the shore at Happisburgh Beach in Norfolk, were preserved in prehistoric peat. It is believed the prints are more than 800,000 years old. [8] It was later confirmed these footprints are the oldest ones to be found outside of Africa. The footprints found in the United Kingdom are currently the third known oldest prints in the world. [6], [7]

How many people across the centuries have walked the same path as these ancestors did so long ago?

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Norfolk, UK
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5. Ichthyosaur Skeleton

In December 2013 an almost complete skeleton of an ichthyosaur was found by a hobby collector from Wiltshire who was visiting the Dorset Coast the day after Christmas that year. [9] A large storm had just come through and another was on its way, so experts steadily worked to excavate and preserve the fossil from damage. The skeleton was intact except for a piece of its snout was missing. The removal took about eight hours. Icthyosaurs were predatory “dolphin-like” reptiles that swam the oceans about 200 million years ago.

Ichthyosaur fossil
Credit: Ryan Somma via Wikimedia CommonsCreative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

An example of an Ichthyosaur fossil

6. Ruined Houses at Baile Sear

In 2007 BBC News reported “a ferocious storm” in Scotland exposed the remains of ancient homes. [10] It is believed the round houses were built during the Iron Age, making them about 2,000 years old. The storm occurred in January 2005 at Baile Sear, North Uist and, while locals had seen pieces of the remains, no one really knew what was buried underneath the sand. Experts worked quickly to explore, observe and document in fear another storm would cover them again.

7. Floods Uncover Rare Artifacts in South Carolina

In the fall of 2015 record-breaking rainfall hit South Carolina and, after it was over and water receded, people found a number of rare artifacts. These included

  • Suspected pre-European pottery
  • A barge
  • Large skeletal remains, believed to be a mammoth
  • Burial grounds

A centuries old dugout canoe possibly crafted by early European settlers or Native Americans was also found in 2012. [12] Experts from the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology urged locals to report any findings they come across so they can be investigated.

Site where a 17th century dugout canoe was found.

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Daufuskie Island, SC 29915, USA

8.  14,000 Year-Old Clovis Point on Long Beach Island

Sandy revealed more of the past in the summer of 2014. That year a Virginia family was vacationing on Long Beach Island in New Jersey in the town of Beach Haven. As the 10-year-old boy of the family was boogie boarding, he felt something unusual bump his leg. He reached out to see what it was and it wasn’t the usual broken shell (he thought it was a crab). He thought it was an arrowhead or shark’s tooth. The family met with experts from the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. and was told the find was a rare Clovis point and estimated to be about 14,000 years old. [13]

Long Beach Island was one of the East Coast regions devastated by Sandy and it is believed efforts to restore the beaches helped uncover this historic artifact. One archaeology expert in New Jersey said the artifact could have potentially been buried for thousands of years. Historians and archaeologists say ancient Native Americans used the Clovis point to hunt mastodon and spear fish. Over the decades many Clovis points have been found, but usually they are sought after. This was one of the few times one has ever been found on a beach accidentally. The family donated the arrowhead for others to see.

Atlantic Ocean/Long Beach Island
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved

A photo I took on Long Beach Island in the summer of 2014. What other secrets does the oceans keep? What other treasures might be washed up on shore or resting below the sand at any given time?

9. Civil War Era Cannonballs in South Carolina

In October 2016 a number of U.S. Civil War era cannonballs were discovered on Folly Island in South Carolina after Hurricane Matthew arrived and left. There were 16 cannonballs in total and described as being the size of bowling balls. After being inspected by officials, they were found to contain old gunpowder which was unstable, making the cannonballs potentially very dangerous. Initially, they were going to go on display, but because of the risks, experts had to detonate these relics.

Civil War era cannonballs
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved

These cannonballs are on display at the Old Courthouse in Winchester, Virginia, but are an example of what was found on the South Carolina coastline. The 16 cannonballs found there were heavily weathered by the sea and other elements.

10. Rain and Hailstorm Reveal 1,500-Year-Old Winepress in Israel

After a major storm pounded the Sharon Plain region in Israel during 2015, a 1,500-year-old winepress was found at an excavation site where archaeologists were exploring, as customary before building, prior to gas pipes being installed. After the storm subsided and the water was pumped out of the site, the winepress was discovered.

“It is evident that great thought was invested in the engineering and construction,” said Alla Nagorski, Antiquities Authority archeologist and excavation director of the site. She also said the dimensions of the find were “huge — 3 meters in diameter and 2 meters deep, and could accommodate 20 cubic meters of wine.” [16]

Sharon Plain is considered to be one of the most historical wine regions in Israel.

Location in Israel where an ancient winepress was uncovered after a storm flooded an excavation site.

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Eyal Interchange

While much of the history of the world has been discovered, there is still so much more that hasn't been yet revealed. Often humans make the discoveries through exploration, but every so often nature shares some of Earth’s secrets and past when it is ready to do so.