Most of us seek out naturally made products, foods, and wonders.
The shocking thing is that what may seem entirely natural is often times the result of a lot of human interference. Prepare to have your mind blown as I weave some scientific facts into your brain about things you may have assumed to be natural.
Number 10, the Amazon Basin. Known for it’s allure, mystical elements, and interesting mix of wildlife and inhabitants, the Amazon has long been regarded as one of the most mystifying locales in the world. It is home to strange creatures that are exclusive to the region and indigenous people that have lived off the land for centuries.
But what most people don’t know is that this natural wonderland is not at natural as many believe. In fact, when it was discovered by European settlers some centuries ago, what became clear was that the area had been reshaped and remolded, resulting in a perfect harmony with nature that also fit their needs.
As ancient architects, the Amazonians created majestic terraces throughout the mountains surrounding Peru, reseeded the Amazon basins with trees that bore fruit, and even added canals, dams, and ponds for fishing.
The Amazonians were quite ingenious, they even managed to produce artificial fertilizer, terra preta, that is rich in nutrients and now covers an estimated 10% of the Amazon, an amazing feat for so-called savages, and the main reason why the people of the Amazon are able to sustain their farming as a way of life.
So much for natural, huh?
Number nine, farm animals. From man’s best friend to cats, ferrets, hamsters, and all the barnyard animals on the farm, the fact is that basically all of them have been domesticated slowly but surely over the centuries. Since our hunter-gatherer days before we settled into cities and urban landscapes, man has been altering the traits of animals to complement our needs for thousands of years.
Not only have cows changed significantly in appearance over the millennia, but so too have chickens, which are four times the size they were in the 50s, and turkeys which are twice their original size since the 20s.
With more people on the planet to feed, it only makes sense that animals have been selectively bred larger to feed the masses.
So, the next time you’re tearing into that chicken breast, know that they’ve been boosted unnaturally by man. The domesticated pigs that roam farmlands these days have also changed quite drastically from the wild boar and are far more docile and easy to train.
Sheep are another animal that has served many purposes for man over the centuries, with the current breeds domesticated for their warm wool and fattened up for their meat.
Number eight, red radishes. Did you know that the original radish was black? Classified as tubers, radishes are grouped together with onions, potatoes, turnips, beets, carrots and more, and are simply wild weed roots that have been artificially processed into their present form.
Although you can still find black radishes if you seek them out, the red and white varieties are the ones that have become the most popular and have been carefully crafted through intensive genetic modifications. Plus, they just look aesthetically more pleasing to the eye and palate.
Number seven, Yellowstone’s Morning Glory Hot Spring. Yellowstone’s Morning Glory Hot Spring has always been a place of beauty, drawing thousands of visitors each year to take in the majestic site that has few rivals. What many of these visitors may not realize is that this is one destination that has dramatically changed over the years from its brilliant blue to its current tinted green and yellow hues. What caused such a transformation? From its initial blue in the 1960s to its current form, visitors to Yellowstone have trashed the site by hurling all types of garbage into Morning Glory, plastic, pennies, and more.
This debris gradually caused the temperature of the hot springs to drop, affecting how sunlight and water depth interacted to change the colors of the pool from the shallow and deep ends of the pool.
It was only recently that scientists have measured the area and been able to explain the way it looks now and how the garbage has gradually altered its look over the past 50 years. How’s that for a man-made natural wonder?
Number six, lettuce. If you say the words the devil’s lettuce, one would normally veer towards marijuana, but the truth of the matter is that lettuce, at least the wild variety, has been known for its narcotic qualities for thousands of years.
In the last few years, however, these wild lettuce types have been introduced in several states in America, including California, Washington D.C., Iowa, and Alabama.
There are also other varieties of lettuce that can be found throughout the world, including iceberg lettuce as it is easy to ship and has been selectively bred over centuries through genetic modification. The results have been impressive, allowing for greater resistance to fungi and insects as well as a higher tolerance to herbicides to yield larger leaves.
Number five, earthquakes. Most people assume that earthquakes are a purely natural phenomenon but now that hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, has become a popular method of resource extraction, we now know this isn’t necessarily the case.
Here’s why. A by-product of fracking and oil drilling is waste water. To get rid of this waste water, it is simply pumped back into whats known as injection wells in the earth, which are around 7,000 feet below the surface.
The pressure and depth of these wells can cause faults, which are fractures in the earth’s crust, to break. As it breaks, the strain is released and an earthquake occurs at the surface. Though these faults will eventually lead to earthquakes in the future anyway, fracking speeds up the process a lot. Prior to fracking, earthquakes were relatively rare in places like Oklahoma and parts of Texas, but now they have earthquake seismic hazards that are comparable to those that affect California and are even experiencing hundreds of earthquakes annually, far more than the one or two they should usually experience a year.
This is already causing significant damage and the issue is likely to persist since this industry is so profitable and necessary for local jobs. As questions linger on regarding how to deal with the issue, scientists are on the search for solutions to circumvent the indirect and direct problems associated with fracking for the future.
Though to be fair, fracking is only a small fraction of the issue, since conventional drilling produces even more waste water and is therefore just as responsible.
I guess we’ll just have to prepare for some bumpy driving conditions until Elon Musk gets us our electric cars and saves the world from uncontrollable earthquakes.
Number four, Nevada’s Fly Geyser. What started out as an accident turned into an asset for the state of Nevada and the Fly Geyser. Most visitors to the state are inclined to travel to Las Vegas but Fly Geyser is a spot in the Black Rock Desert that is definitely worth exploring for this man-made wonder.
It all began with a well-drilling expedition that went nowhere, yielding two different species of algae that leaked out in brilliant red and green hues to slowly form what is now known as the Fly Geyser.
This water, which is geothermally produced, has caused a mound to form that is composed of minerals that have become an eye-catching spectacle that attracts visitors from all over the world. It may appear to be the creation of Mother Nature, but those that venture to visit the site learn that it is indeed a man-made spot that continues to gain in popularity.
Even though it is privately owned, that doesn’t keep travelers from trespassing in order of get a better view of this spot. Another man-made geyser with an interesting story attached is the Soda Springs Geyser in Idaho, which was manipulated and moderated around 1937 as Mother Nature mixed a special brew of pressurized carbon dioxide and water that would not stop.
Once a local driller penetrated the site in search of heated water, plans were made to regulate the area to protect the town and its residents from the fumes that sprayed out.
These days, a cap has the geyser spouting upwards to heights of up to 150 feet about once every hour on the hour, a man-made marvel that brings thousands of visitors every year to marvel at the visuals.
Number three, the Door to Hell. Visitors from Turkmenistan can get a bird’s eye view of the underworld up close and personal at the appropriately named Door to Hell, which is located in the small village of Derweze in the middle of a desert. The crater measures more than 230 feet in diameter and was discovered in 1971 by a team of Russian scientists drilling for natural gas reserves. They got more than they bargained for, however, when the rig collapsed, deadly methane gas spouted out, and panic escalated.
In an attempt to control what they believed could be a huge catastrophe, the researchers set the crater on fire in the hopes that the methane gas would burn out on its own in a matter of hours. More than 40 years later, the fires continue to burn and now visitors to the area can get a good idea of what the gates of hell could potentially look like.
The devil certainly is in the details.
Number two, Iceland’s Blue Lagoons. Most people that think of Iceland think of, well ice, and beautiful natural landscapes as far as the eye can see.
The truth, however, is a bit more complicated and the Blue Lagoon, visited by nearly half a million people each year, straddles the fence between being completely natural and man-made. The real story lies somewhere in between.
The Land of Fire & Ice, as Iceland is affectionately known, offers a landscape that is unique in the world that few countries can lay claim to. Because of its position geographically, it is home to many of the world’s greatest phenomena from volcanoes and geysers to lava fields and earthquakes.
The Blue Lagoon owes it special status in part to the Svartsengi geothermal plant that was built in the 1970s nearby that feeds the warm temperatures and more into the location.
The plant is strategically hidden from site so that tourists cannot really see it while there but it accounts for the mineral rich waters and the perfect soaking temperatures between 98 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit. The sulfur and silica that emanates from the springs are so relaxing and soothing that no one visiting the site will really care how man made or natural it is. They simply enjoy the magic and majesty, no questions asked.
Number one, cabbages. It could be said that Brassica oleracea is the mother of green vegetables, with the plant species responsible for brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi, kale, and yes, even cabbage.
The lineage began approximately 2,500 years ago when Brassica oleracea grew wild in Mediterranean countries and along the coasts of France and Britain.
This wild form was cultivated by farmers who took the larger leaf buds to produce the form of cabbage we all know and love today. The ability to transform a wild plant into its current state is a testament to man’s ability to take the best traits and selectively breed them to exceptional forms. Broccoli is another well-known vegetable that started from Brassica oleracea, named after the Italian word for the flowered top of cabbage.
The reality is that every vegetable that you’ve eaten has been modified and changed over time because of man.
Every single one. And it doesn’t stop at cabbage or broccoli, either. From tomatoes to corn, cucumbers and even nuts, there are a lot more vegetables that are not natural but I simply don’t have the time to cover them all! Which example surprised you the most?
As found on Youtube