Google Maps hunters are a unique breed in the online world—part curiosity junkie and part armchair adventurer (with a splash of cartographer). These Google Maps users help us discover the world, one online sighting at a time.
Meet Angela Micol, a Google Maps hunter who has discovered two new possible ancient pyramid sites in Egypt, after spending ten years studying Google Earth. Earlier this summer, Micol found two areas along the Nile river basin, 90 miles apart, both of which contain unusually shaped mounds.
"I have searched the Egyptian desert for many, many hours," Angela explained in an email. "I have seen many landscapes [in Egypt] and after ten years of searching and researching, one begins to understand geology and formations that are seen in geology."
The scientific community is skeptical. For example, James Harrell, a leading expert on the archaeological geology of ancient Egypt and a professor at the University of Toledo, in Ohio, told Fox News that the alleged pyramid sites Micol spotted are likely "examples of natural rock formations" that Micol mistook for archaeological features, because she is "unburdened by any knowledge of archaeology or geology."
"In other words," Harrell said, "Her pyramids are just wishful thinking by an ignorant observer with an overactive imagination."
Not all Google Maps discoveries are scholarly or controversial—actually, most are not.
Back in 2009, for example, Google Maps hunter Bernie Bamford discovered an anomalous grid on the ocean floor. This grid looked as if it could have been Atlantis, or some other sunken city. However, Google clarified that the grid was a result of overlapping data sets in its mapping software, not a lost city. The imagery was later removed.
There have been plenty of strange sightings on Google Earth and Google Maps over the years, and we've published several roundups of them (you can find those here, here, and here). But we should really thank the unsung heroes—those who create the curious patches of earth, and those who, through curiosity or sheer boredom, discover them.
Google Maps hunters have contributed to a bevy of specialized sites dedicated to exploring our virtual Earth, including Google Sightseeing, which offers more than 2000 weird and wonderful views from the Google Maps, Earth, and Street View services, as well as Satellite Sights, Google Earth Cool Places, Google Earth Hacks, and Rodsbot.
Thanks to these hunters, we've rounded up several more weird and wonderful Google Maps and Google Earth sights to see:
Google Pranks Apple?
Whether this is a prank (given the heightened rivalry between Apple and Google) or just a photo stitch-up error, Google Street View shows the address above Apple HQ in Cupertino, California, as "1 Infinite Loo."
Only In New York
If you think you've seen a lot of weird things by now, think again. The man in the red shirt, who is waiting to cross the street in New York City, inexplicably has a cat on his head.
Real-time air traffic, Amsterdam
This Google Earth plug-in gives you a unique peek into how one of Europe’s busiest airports works. You can see the real-time air traffic of Amsterdam Airport, with incoming and outgoing flights and patterns, as well as their corresponding live noise values.
Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The statue of Christ The Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro is 130 feet tall at the top of the 2300-foot-high Corcovado Mountain. You can check out the amazing sights of the mountain and of Rio de Janeiro on Google Earth. Switch on the 3D building layers to get a better perspective of the statue, which was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Chichen Itza, Mexico
Zoom in and examine the pyramids in the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza from ground level with new Street View maps of the structure. Chichen Itza was also declared one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
World’s longest conveyor belt
It might be a very long ride if you go down the world's longest conveyor belt. This 61-mile belt can be found in Western Sahara, where it extends from the phosphate mines of Bu Craa to the south coast.
Via Satellite Sights
Caerphilly Pony, UK
This earth sculpture is one of the largest in Europe, at 656 feet long and 16.4 feet high. It's located in Wales in the UK, and is a sight to see from above with Google Earth. The pony is created from coal shale and forms a large natural amphitheater. The locals nicknamed it "Sultan" after a famous pit pony that used to work in the old colliery.
Via Satellite Sights
Earthquake in Acapulco?
This satellite imagery of an area near Acapulco appears to have been captured during a small earthquake, as circular waves are dispersed around what could be the epicenter of the earth's movement.
Hippo group hug
Thinking of going on safari? This is what it looks like when hundreds of hippos huddle together in Tanzania.
In Street View, explore over 50 miles of breathtaking twists and turns across the tallest sections of the Southern Carpathians in Transylvania. It’s no wonder Top Gear named it the world’s best driving road.
Dalton Highway, Alaska
If you’re a keen driver, also check out Dalton Highway in Alaska—aka, Route 11—which stretches more than 400 miles. It’s one of the most isolated roads in the United States, which means it's also one of the world’s most dangerous roads.
Ghost town, Palliser Triangle
Welcome to the ghost town of Robsart, a formerly bustling town in the driest part of the Canadian prairies called the Palliser Triangle. Many villages in the Palliser Triangle were settled at the beginning of the 20th century, only for the residents to discover that the Triangle was prone to extreme drought. People abandoned their homes, leaving towns such as Robsart with listed populations of around 15.
This story, "Google Maps hunters" was originally published by TechHive.