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Strip-Mall Totems: The Trees of Sprawl

 McDonald's and Douglas-firs (photograph by Sarah West)The form or look of the tree arises from annually repeated patterns of branching, elongation, thickening, and death....

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Kazakhstan and the Illuminati in an Unfinished Metropolis

Astana city center (photograph by Darmon Richter)Most people living in the western world know surprisingly little about Kazakhstan. Surprising, considering this Eurasian country ranks as the ninth...

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How a Cemetery Ends Up Underground

Crypt at Center Church on the Green (all photographs by the author)There's no shortage of churches with crypts. However, while these are on the whole designed with the building. there's one place where...

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Chasing Clouds: How an Enthusiast Discovered the First New Cloud in 60 Years

Undulatus asperatus(photograph by Agathman via Wikimedia Commons)In an attempt to codify cloud vocabulary and aid in weather prediction, the World Meteorological Association (WMO) published the first...

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Where Have All the Lake Balls Gone?

Marimo in Lake Akan (photograph by Andy king50/Wikimedia)Endangered in Iceland, celebrated in Japan, and recently spotted for the first time on a beach in Sydney, lake balls, a rare round formation of...

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Built by Branches: Nine of the Most Incredible Tree Tunnels

Tunnel of Love, Ukraine (photograph by Serhei/Wikimedia)Around the world stunning passageways have grown from nature. These tree tunnels can take decades to form, but when the branches arch over in a...

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Morbid Monday: Corpse Theatre, When the Roles of the Dead Were Played by Real...

One of the "corpse theatre" stagings of the 19th century (all images courtesy Archives of the Roman National History Society)When staging representations of biblical themes for education and...

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A Hidden Refuge for the Fading Era of Explorers

The Adventurers' Club in Los Angeles (all photographs by Kendal Carson)In a nondescript, windowless building advertised by no sign, on the border of Chinatown in Los Angeles, a society of explorers...

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Frogs From Beyond Extinction

Variable harlequin frog, believed to be extinct in the 1990s, rediscovered in 2003 (photograph by Brian.gratwicke)Amphibians — including frogs, toads, salamanders, newts, and caecilians — have survived...

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No HDR Needed: Why Some Lakes Are an Otherworldly Blue

Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada (photograph by Juliane Schultz/Flickr)Around the world are lakes iridescent with rippling turquoise waters, appearing like visions out of a dream. However, the cause for...

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The Sordid Voyage of the Venetian Gondola

Venice gondola (1880-90), photographed by Paolo Salviati (via SMU Central University Library)The Venetian gondola evokes thoughts of sipping a sparkling tipple on a romantic excursion, helmed by a...

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Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

"Ada Lovelace portrait" (by Alfred Edward Chalon - Science & Society Picture Library, via Wikimedia Commons)I never am really satisfied that I understand anything; because, understand it well as I...

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The World's Oldest Botanical Gardens

Ever since most of us stopped being nomads and settling in cities and towns, civilizations have set aside green spaces dedicated to plants, flowers, and the general enjoyment of nature. From the simple...

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How to Get There From Here: Imaginary Transit Maps From Albuquerque to Westeros

Much has been written about the history of subway maps in New York City, from their aesthetic to their accuracy, their designers to their legions of riders. The same is true for the London tube, the...

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From Blue Whale Skull to Narwhal Tusks, Behind-the-Scenes at the Smithsonian...

The Marine Mammals Collection at the Museum Support Center in Suitland, Maryland (all photographs by Dylan Thuras/Atlas Obscura)As the world's largest research collection dedicated to the planet's most...

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The Deepest, Darkest, Oldest, Loneliest Hotel Room in the World

It is extremely rare one gets to experience true, utter darkness — a darkness that has no shadows, no movement, and no light. It's even more rare to experience complete silence. We are not just talking...

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A Gigantic Female Atlas Is Now Holding up the Ceiling of the Sea

All photographs by Jason deCaires Taylor unless notedJason deCaires Taylor creates massive underwater sculptures that are not only visually stunning, but are designed to improve the environmental...

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A Quarantine Island, Abandoned Railroad, and More NYC Ruins That May Soon Be...

Although it sometimes seems today's New York City is made up of nothing but brand new, ultra-luxury, high-end condominiums, it is still scattered with an incredible number of derelict buildings,...

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Celebrating Life While There's Still Time: Halloween Meets Mexico's Days of...

Offerings at the Palacio Municipal at La Calaca Festival (photograph by Reka Nyari)David Metcalfe, author, researcher and founder of Liminal Analytics — Applied Research Collaborative — co-authored...

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The Crucified Sheep, Tattooed Frogs, and Crocheted Skeletons of a Rogue...

Atlas Obscura at the Rogue Taxidermy Fair (all photographs by Steven Acres, visit http://stevenacr.es to view more of his work)Transforming cast off creatures from roadkill to vintage discards, some...

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