5 Most Incredible Discoveries of the Week

Including a Da Vinci secret and the possible excavation of Dracula's dungeon
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2014 5:29 AM CDT
5 Most Incredible Discoveries of the Week
In this Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014 photo, the moon rises with an orange glow as people watch from a rock cliff at Bondi Beach in Sydney.   (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Insights into a famous face and a famous painting are among the most intriguing discoveries of the week:

  • 'Man on the Moon' Didn't Get There Way We Thought: Scientists know it as Oceanus Procellarum, but the rest of us generally refer to it as the "Man on the Moon"—the huge dark splotch on the moon visible from Earth. Either way, how did it get there? One commonly held view is that a massive asteroid slammed into the young moon and left its mark. But researchers at MIT now think the origin comes from within the moon itself.
  • Scientist Unlocks a da Vinci Secret: Among Leonardo da Vinci's most famous paintings is a portrait of a woman holding an ermine—a type of short-tailed weasel—but a new analysis shows there's a lot more to the artwork than that. Turns out, the ermine might have been a late addition.

  • Archaeologist Thinks He Dug Up Dracula's Digs: An archaeologist helping excavate at Turkey's Tokat Castle believes he has uncovered a ghastly but great find: the dungeons where Vlad the Impaler, aka Dracula, was once held. Ibrahim Cetin says the two dungeons he discovered were "built like a prison," though he didn't offer up much detail. While info about Vlad III remains somewhat murky, the story about his captivity, if true, may lend some insight into why he reportedly slaughtered as many as 80,000 people.
  • 6-Year Quest Leads to Biggest Lake Ontario Wreck: The story of the Nisbet Grammer isn't terribly tragic: The 253-foot steel steamer was on a Buffalo-to-Montreal route in Lake Ontario on a heavily fogged morning in May 1926 when a steamer struck it. The ensuing hole caused the ship to sink, but it took 15 minutes to do so, giving the entire crew time to board the very ship that caused the Nisbet Grammer's downfall. Now it's got a new claim to fame: the largest shipwreck ever found in Lake Ontario—and the search for it was epic.
  • Clues to Ancient Earthquake Lie With Female Skeleton: Archaeologists investigating the remains of an ancient city overlooking the Sea of Galilee say they've found the best evidence yet of a devastating earthquake—one of two tremblors they think leveled the Greco-Roman municipality. The University of Haifa researchers who've been digging up Hippos for 15 years said they found a dove-shaped pendant and a woman's skeleton under the remains of a roof, as well as ancient artillery balls (apparently used for a huge catapult) and a statue's marble leg.
Click to read about more discoveries, including an image of Jesus in which he has a much different look. (More discoveries stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.