Debunking the Pyramids of Antarctica Myth
Sometimes, the best way to debunk a story is to read it. Case in point: The story about the discovery of ancient pyramids in Antarctica. Recently, this tale of intrepid explorers discovering a series of man-made structures on a continent that has been too harsh to support sustainable human life for millions of years went viral over the Internet.
The story was picked up by many news outlets and blogs throughout the world, and has made its way as a meme on Facebook and other social media sites. By all accounts, this story would sound like the greatest archeological discovery of a lifetime.
However, nearly everything about this article, including the pictures and descriptions of the “explorers” hint that this was merely a hoax. Even the news outlets that ran with the story are suspect. Whatever the case may be, the story is its own undoing.
The only "real" proof of the pyramids comes from a series of photographs supposedly taken during the expedition. Several show mountains with seemingly smooth edges partially covered in snow. Others show a conical shaped mound of snow near the coast. Finally, there appears to be an icy pyramid on a frozen plain.
The photos are not exactly compelling. The giant “pyramids” with clean edges are clearly mountains. In fact, these mountains look like any mountain range existing in extremely cold climates. The smooth edges and sides are more likely the result of two things: natural erosion and the proximity of the photographer from the mountain when the shot was taken.
The icy cone near the coast is impressive and seems like it was made by humans. Then again, it’s near the coast and that portion of its structure appears to be the result of wind, sea, or both (Update: The photo in question was actually cropped from an original photo. It wasn't the subject of the original photo. See caption for the actual person who took it)
The “snow pyramid” on the plain (also near the coast) is the least compelling. It suspiciously looks like it was photo-shopped (then again, looks can be deceiving). Also, it appears small in scale and closely resembles a pile of plowed snow (remember, there are bases with runways that need to be cleared down there).
There are several clues to the article’s authenticity. Part of the problem is its length. For a story about a new, earth-shattering, history-changing discovery, it is relatively short (at least the one presented by In Serbia News was minuscule). Recently, an article about the discovery of new species in the “lost world” of Australia garnered a very lengthy write-up.
The story is not new, either. It appears that variations of the story have been circulating on the web for nearly a decade. While there are some slight variations, the story hasn’t changed much, either. Most sites have added opinions, rather than updates. In fact, the “new” version of the article has the same lead from its original publication. The original writer --whoever that might be -- claimed in the lead that the search was ongoing and that eight researchers are involved. No names are given to the explorers.
This leads to another flaw in the pyramid story. The websites and blogs that chose to print it didn’t bother to validate the story. It appears nobody involved in the expedition were contacted. Any sense of sourcing done in the article was to mention an obscure website known for printing pseudo-scientific-themed articles (no link available). It’s obvious that many sites merely searched the web, found the story and placed it on their sites. This is not exactly investigative journalism at its finest (that is if you dare to give it that distinction).
The News Outlets
Most of the news outlets are found on the Internet. Many of them have posted questionable stories in the past. One such website reporting on this matter is Before It’s News.com. This site was once the darling of citizen journalism. Its platform allowed for anyone to post a newsworthy article.
Over the years, Before It’s News has been taken over by conspiracy theorists, cranks, and ideologists who have written articles about such ground-breaking stuff as secret lunar bases, alien infiltration, and shadowy government activities.
When this story was “reported” on their site in late 2012, it took on a whole new dimension. The result was, shall we say, unique. On top of eight unnamed explorers from America and Europe discovering the pyramids, there were hints of hidden Nazi bases and remnants of the lost continent of Atlantis.
The other sites are not better, either. Many will put a political stance to it, while others will run with pseudo-scientific slants. Many center around the theme of the lost continent of Atlantis. It’s not surprising to see some sites adding the line “the government doesn’t want you to know this…”
Aliens vs. Predator
Interestingly enough, this story’s origin may not have anything to do with Nazis, Atlantis or government cover-ups. Instead, it’s Hollywood. To be precise, a movie that pitted two iconic space monsters against one another.
According to a trailer of Alien vs. Predator (which is based on the movie, as well as the Dark Horse Comic series), a group of explorers uncovers an ancient pyramid in Antarctica. To make a long story short, the aliens and predator battle one another inside it while the humans try to stay out of harm’s way.
Is it a coincidence? The answer is most likely no. The story is just a myth kept alive by the nature of sensationalistic websites on the Internet. Yet, its flaws are so glaring that nearly anyone reading it can spot them. There are websites that have debunked it; however, as long as there are those that use it as affirmation for their beliefs in “alternative news” of the paranormal, conspiracies, or other bizarre matters, this story will not meet the cold and frozen death that it deserves.
Update 2016: Possible Explanation from Nature
It appears the pyramids are not a mystery, after all. For years, climbers heading to Antarctica's largest peak, Vinsen Massif, have passed by one of these supposed pyramids. Even a National Geographic photographer snapped a few pictures of it from the peak of Vinsen Massif.
There are other photos and videos on the Internet showing climbers ascending this peak, while the pyramid can be seen in the background. And, by all appearance, no one is really paying much attention to it. There's a reason.
The "pyramid" may well be a natural formation known as nunatak. These are mountain peaks that jut up above massive glaciers. They are found throughout Antarctica and Greenland. It is believed that these formations were formed by years of erosion caused by the shifting glaciers.
Below is a video that examines the photos and explains what these "pyramids" are. Warning: the grammar can be confusing, but the creator(s) behind the video are spot on in their analysis.
Ancient Pyramids in Antarctica (2013)?
Update: Another Viral Article Claims Google Earth Has the Definitive Images
Just when the Antarctica Pyramid was starting to fade into obscurity, another article on the matter has gone viral. This time, a name – as well as coordinates – was given. Vicente Fuentes, a Spanish paranormal investigator who writes for Ufotopia.com, posted an image of a supposed pyramid and a Spanish language documentary on the topic in mid-March 2016. Nearly every paranormal blog and internet fringe publication -- such as Before-Its-News.com -- published duplicate articles.
Fuentes (who was described as a “vivid researcher”) made the claim that Google Earth captured evidence of a pyramid in Antarctica. And, for good measure, he placed the satellite image side-by-side with another satellite image of a pyramid in Egypt. Also, he gave the coordinates that anyone could plug in for Google Earth (79°58'39.25"S 81°57'32.21"W)
Many true believers have touted this as being the best evidence to date. They claimed that it was impossible for mountain ridges and peaks to be nearly perfect in symmetry.
However, a closer look reveals that the Antarctic pyramid -- possibly a mountain peak known as Schatz Ridge (a better view is the lead photo used for this article) – is not as perfect as many pyramid believers suggests. There appears to be a canyon on one side. Also, as mentioned, this particular ridge is located near a popular mountain routinely used by mountain climbers (who probably didn’t give it much thought about it being anything more than a glacier horn or nunatak).
Additionally, the photo from Fuentes appears to be cropped. The side-by-side image of a real pyramid may trick some viewers into believing they’re seeing two similar structures – when in fact, one is a huge mountain that’s mostly buried under ice (and clearly connected to a half-buried ridge with two other peaks) and the other is a man-made structure that’s less than a thousand feet high.
And what’s the story with Fuentes? He claims to have a degree in Industrial Engineering (with emphasis in chemicals) and mathematics who has an interest in things “that nobody dares to talk about.” He has written numerous articles on the paranormal including one about a “portal” he claimed to have uncovered in Antarctica (which sounds like the centuries-old debunked Symmes Hole).
Update 2017: Fossils Near One of the “Pyramids”
Back in November 2016, CBS news ran a story about the Internet stories pertaining to the Antarctic Pyramid. In the report (available on the Internet), a professor of Earth system science at UC Irvine had been contacted by the Internet science news outlet, Live Science.
Eric Rignot wrote in an e-mail that an unnamed pyramid-shaped peak within the Ellsworth Mountain ranges was the result of nature.
“This is just a mountain that looks like a pyramid.” He wrote.
He further stated: “Pyramid shapes are not impossible – many peaks partially look like pyramids, but they only have one to two faces like that, rarely four.”
Still, the article added something that opens up another interesting – and possibly more plausible – find in the region. In an area within the range known as Heritage Range, fossils from the Cambrian period have been found. Most of them are trilobites that lived more than 500 million years ago and were confirmed by a 1972 USGS (United States Geological Society) report on the region.
Update: 2018 – New Video with Old Information
Recently, a pro-Antarctic Pyramid Theory documentary entitled, “The Pyramid of Antarctica Conspiracy” surfaced on YouTube. The video was made sometime around 2017 and pushed the concept that pyramids were discovered in Antarctica. However, upon further scrutiny, the video seemed to retread old information from the original article on the topic with a few details from actual studies.
It stated that an international group of scientists (again, the names of the scientists were not given). discovered the pyramids This time, the documentary claimed that this discovery came in 2016 and that they “found evidence of a lost civilization.”
The narrator of the documentary also stated “they found three four-sided pyramids protruding through the tundra.” This was a bizarre statement, considering that the original accounts placed the pyramids jutting out from deep glaciers instead of existing in a region often characterized as dry, barren land with little or no vegetation (Antarctic tundra are not the same type found in the northern hemisphere). The documentary also touched upon the Google Earth findings and the image from it that has become the hallmark of this conspiracy theory.
The seven-minute video data mined actual scientific research of the continent with conspiratorial sources to bolster its claim that the pyramid exists. And, of course, it made the argument that Antarctica was the lost city/state of Atlantis.
Possibly the most striking of all is not so much that more information was added to this theory. It’s that the claims from the original article are still alive and well, despite its glaring flaws.
The Pyramids of Antarctica Conspiracy
Other Stories of Mysterious Structures
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- Kaimanawa Wall: Ancient Wall from Lost Civilization or Natural Formation?
In the forest of New Zealand, a curious "wall" has many thinking there was once a lost civilization there. But, do the evidence stack up? Or is there some other ulterior motive at work here?
Questions & Answers
© 2013 Dean Traylor