Day in and day out, millions of people rely on Google Maps and Google Earth to get where they’re going. The combination of top-down photography and random street view shots create both an awesome way to get around and a comprehensive glimpse of the diverse, chaotic, weird, and generally incomprehensible tapestry that is human existence. You would be amazed at the sheer insanity that has been accidentally captured by Google’s seemingly omnipresent cameras as they set about making sure you can find the local Starbucks. So, why not take a few minutes from your next PowerPoint presentation to take a short trip around the world for some of the strangest results that Google Earth and Google Maps has to offer.
1. Painting on the Landscape
This moldering shipwreck on the Indian coast is probably pretty desolate when you’re on the ground, face-to-face with the failure. From the sky, however, caught in the swirling mix of white sand and blue seas, it’s an abstract painting that will stay with you on the ride home (or at least through the next few slides).
2. Guardian of the Badlands
A lot of times, when someone points to a rock formation and says, “There’s a face there,” or “You can see a cat pooping right there,” they’re reaching. That is not the case with this aerial photograph, where a face (lower-middle) is apparently on guard for some ancient threat.
3. A Herd of Roaming Buffalo
Though buffalo are something of a rarity, the majestic beast is still inspiring when you get the opportunity to see it in action. Several reserves have been set up around the world to preserve the legacy of the buffalo, like at this game reserve in Tanzania.
4. This Excerpt From a Nightmare
Somewhere in the Piedmont region of Italy is a 200-foot-long bunny that has fallen from who knows where. Wherever it came from, the trip was not pleasant. Those travelers who happen upon the stuffed animal that God dropped on Earth can get up close and personal with the statue. Sleeping on the thing is even an option, assuming you want to spend your nap plagued by thoughts of a distraught cartoon character.
5. Nevada’s Giant Bullseye
Just in case some nutcase ever gets around to launching a ballistic assault, the good people of Nevada already put a contingency plan in place. See, the bad guys will be so distracted by this giant bullseye in the middle of nowhere that — Daffy Duck-style — they’ll waste their arsenal before any harm can be done. It’s genius.
6. Someone’s Very Bad Day
Sure, this is just a typical German street, until you look closely and you see the poor little car that’s been flipped on its side. Having a drone capture a ridiculously terrible moment in your life is like adding insult to injury, isn’t it?
7. A Quick Test to See How Dirty Your Mind Is
We all pride ourselves on being mature, upstanding adults — until an inadvertent picture of male genitalia gets plopped down in front of you. Can you find the offending building? If not, congratulations, you’re a good person. You should also have a doctor check your eyesight.
8. What Sign Associated With Devil Worship?
Okay xenophobic Americans, get ready to get your hackles up. This is a picture of a pentagram. In a country that ends in “-stan,” (Kazakhstan, to be exact). I know, they must be nurturing a plan that will ultimately bring about the end of mankind. No, just kidding. It’s the outline of a public park. Donald Trump has that “end of mankind” thing all covered.
9. Some One Is Playing ‘Grand Theft Auto’ in Real Life
In the context of a video game, swinging through a military base, picking up a multi-million-dollar fighter jet and then parking it outside your apartment is no big deal. Apparently, it’s also not a big deal for the total winner who seems to have pulled the same freaking maneuver in the real world. He is my god. (And you know it’s a he because only a guy would do something so profoundly dumb.)
10. Oil Fields From Above
This is a picture of a collection of oil fields. Sure, they pose potential harm to the Earth, but they’re also kind of pretty, right? Like a constellation. Or acne.
11. The Rocking’est Forest Ever
Sure, from the ground it might look like a bunch of trees all standing in a row. Nothing super special about that — except from the air, this unsuspecting Argentinian forest looks like a perfect guitar. Sure, you’re thinking some people have too much time on their hands, but you also kind of want to go there, don’t you?
12. “Come Downtown and Play …”
This marketing message greets every traveler to Memphis, Tennessee who arrives by plane. And who looks down. And who can see the note from their particular trajectory. It’d be cute if it didn’t also look like the opening shots of the next Purge movie (minus a few burning fires).
13. Now, Before You Start Getting Upset …
Apparently, Kazakhstan has a thing for huge, weird signs dotting their country, because — in addition to the old “totally harmless” pentagram from before, there are also giant swastikas apparently made from local timber. Before you start getting concerned, you should know that these installations date back two thousand years, to a time before the swastika had been stolen by a bunch of bigoted asshats.
14. This Weird Triangle
Located in Arizona, this large triangle is clearly used for … okay, but it’s definitely … it’s definitely something, but locals arent’s exactly forthcoming with the answer — though you can expect the truth is something mad boring, like, “It’s a triangle-shaped dog toy factory.”
15. The Scientology Secret
These diamonds encircled by rings of dirt might look innocuous, but some suspect that they have religious meaning to practicing Scientologists. According to one author, these symbols are part of a religious prophecy that follows an Earth-wide Armageddon.
16. An Old Lady’s Lonely Project
As far as tourist destinations go, you could put Nagoro, Japan on the bizarre end of things. This Google Maps shot revealed a village filled with handmade dolls. It seems that an aging resident of Nagoro crafts a doll each time someone passes away or leaves, as though she just wants to imagine the same bustling village she once knew. Okay, quick, click to the next slide before you get too bummed out.
17. The Heart-Shaped Lake
Consider this cutesie heart-shaped lake a palate cleanser after hearing the story of the lonely old Japanese lady. You’re welcome.
18. Nature Is Doing a Job on This Old Ship
The SS Ayrfield was shipwrecked decades ago — well, it wasn’t so much shipwrecked as it was left to rot where it stood when it ceased being useful. In the intervening years, something miraculous has happened. A dense forest has sprung from its bow, creating an isolated forest in the middle of the derelict ship.
19. Chile’s Massive Swimming Pools
Ever wanted to take a dip in a vast, artificial body of water? Then head to Chile, where they keep the world’s largest swimming pool. At an area of 20 acres, this is a pool in which you could get lost.
20. Who Loves You, Baby?
It’s an incredibly sweet gesture, but putting the message “Jesus Loves You” in the middle of a National Forest in Boise (and facing up, too), seems a little bit defeatist.
21. Hey, Look, More Cryptic Symbols in Nevada
Who knows who made the strange markings in the Nevada desert? Aliens? The Government? Some bored farmer? Either way, this strange marking in the middle of nowhere has managed to draw lots of attention — it’s even got some comments on Google Maps from people who claim (pretty weakly) to have been abducted.
22. Chile’s Resident Friendly Person
The people of Tarapacá, Chile have their very own, meticulously-curated, Big Friendly Giant. Sure, it might not hold the same kind of mystery as a bunch of inscrutable shapes (looking at you, Nevada), but you can’t deny the artistry.
23. The End of the Line
It’s a bit surprising how many countries around the world have left their ships to their own devices when they’ve run out of use for them. This shipwreck is lying off the coast of Iraq for unknown reasons.
24. Who Works Here?
Just in case you were flying over California and you wanted to know where one of the world’s largest toy makers set their hat, just look down in the vicinity of El Segundo, where Mattel has kindly done everyone a service by printing their name on the lawn outside their corporate HQ.
25. The Most Unnerving Addition to This List
This might just look like an innocuous rectangle; it’s actually a perfect 1:20 ratio scale model of the territory disputed between India and China. When you consider that this replica is located in China (and nowhere near the region itself), one’s mind does not go to sunny places.
26. The Heart of New Caledonia
In all honesty, this geographic formation on the French island of New Caledonia is human-made, but who wants to think that?
27. Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone
No, you’re not looking at a bacterium on a slide in a lab. This Yellowstone National Park’s Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest hot springs in the country and the third largest in the world. The colors are a result of various microbe who have assembled around the edge of the spring.
28. The Most Dangerous Place on Earth
You’re looking at a swarm of hippopotami lounging around in the water like the lazy jerks they are. Hippos have a reputation for viciousness on their home continent, which means that walking through this herd — even when they’re on their lunch break — is a terrible idea.
29. The Barringer Meteor Crater
At one point billions of years ago, a meteor slammed into Arizona and caused a dreadful day for … a bunch of germs probably. Anyway, billions of years later, in 1903, some rich guy named Daniel Barringer staked a claim on the site in the hopes of finding a massive lode of space iron — it didn’t pan out because meteors mostly evaporate on impact.
30. Someone’s Romantic Replacement
This Google Maps gem was uncovered a few years ago. At a glance, it might look like someone standing on a balcony, but that’s no person — it looks like someone stuffed their plastic girlfriend onto a balcony when their parents showed up unexpectedly.
31. The Bat Signal
Everyone loves Batman, no matter where you find yourself on the Earth. Take, for instance, this bat signal that’s been plopped on the top of a building in Japan. You know, on second thought, this could be a distress signal … we should probably get some help over there immediately.
32. Woo! ‘Murrica!
Where else would you expect to find a massive American flag displayed prominently on the top of a building? Texas, of course. And not just Texas. Houston, Texas, the vibrant, beating heart of ‘Murrica. Well, there and Tallahassee.
33. The “Something” Effect …
Guess what happens when an airplane is traveling one way at high speeds, and a satellite is passing overhead in the opposite direction at super-high speeds? You get this rainbow effect on the plane itself and a much better picture of some boring suburbs than it would have otherwise been.
34. A Memorial to UTA Flight 772
In 1989, UTA Flight 772 took off Brazzaville headed toward Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport. It never made it; instead, the flight lost control and crashed into the Niger desert, killing all 170 people on board. It is the largest plane crash in Niger’s history. Okay, bummed out enough?
35. Scope Out Uluru
Okay, let’s be honest, this is probably the closest you’re going to get to Uluru, also known as Ayer’s Rock. This 550-million-year-old sandstone formation is located 450 km from the nearest town, which means that even if you do make it to Australia, the odds are good you still won’t make the trek to this holy site. So enjoy the view!
36. Remote Landing Strips
Okay, Google Maps have finally stumbled on some real conspiracy theory stuff with these landing strips in the middle of nowhere, right? Yep! They just happen to be in a remote location right next to the Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site. They’re probably for CIA use!
37. This (Obvious) UFO
Back in 2007, this image of a remote-controlled wind farm got the crazies all stirred up because someone suggested this triangular shape was actually a UFO hovering above the planet. Of course, the whole thing was covered up neatly by the government. Another secret hidden …
38. Cryptic Symbols in Nevada, Volume 3
The people of Nevada are positively fixated on objects carved in the dirt. Between that, gambling, and being very, very hot in general, it’s amazing how anyone in the state get’s anything done.
39. How Sharp Are Your Eyes
You’re looking at an island in a lake that’s on an island within its own lake. You have to look closely to find this geographic gem in northern Canada, but it’s worth checking out (on your computer monitor, at least).
40. The Circles
Somewhere between Denver and Grand Junction on I-70 sits the town of New Castle, a place that is known … well, for this intricately-designed series of circles. Hey, don’t judge. There are a lot of places on the planet, and sometimes people need to think outside the box to get some recognition. Literally.
41. The Coca-Cola Logo
You might have to squint to see the Coca-Cola logo carved into the landscape of Chile, a country that — apparently — really, really loves its caffeinated beverages.
42. Russell Square From Above
Visitors from around the world walk through Camden’s Russell Square every single day thanks to its proximity to the British Museum and the University of London. Even from a bird’s eye view, the internationally known garden mirrors the tranquility that pedestrians experience.
43. Hey, More Swastikas
At no point during the construction of this building did someone on the planning committee take a look at the plans and think, “you know what, this shape looks somehow familiar to me … I wish I could put my finger on it …”
44. The Potash Ponds From on High
Smack dab in the middle of Moab sits this set of brilliant blue ponds. These are the evaporation outlets for Moab’s potash mine; the salt that is used in fertilizers turns these naturally occurring water sources a vibrant blue. The separate levels are just a turn of good luck for those seeking a spectacular hiking destination.
45. The Flag of Northern Cyprus
Located among the fields of Kyrenia, Cyprus is this tribute to the national flag. Imagine how massive (and time-consuming) this project was, especially when you consider that it’s visible from the Google Earth satellite.
46. The Odd Markings in the Desert
You’d almost glance past this oddly carved patch of strange markings if not for their almost-definite end and beginning. Kind of looks like the cross-section of a circulatory system.
47. The Firefox Logo
Someone is a massive fan of the world’s third-best internet browser … someone should tell him that this kind of fan service won’t increase his download speed.
48. Egyptian Spiral
Who knows why this gorgeous-looking spiral was built in Egypt, but the architect’s eye for perspective is awe-inspiring. Of course, anything looks smooth from thousands of feet in the air.
49. Arizona’s Boneyard
Before they’re dismantled, airplanes have to go somewhere, right? Somewhere like this airplane boneyard, where planes are sent to be decommissioned and salvaged.
50. Pucker Up, Earth
Located in the middle of Sudan is this luscious set of red lips, surrounded by a sea of desert. From the ground floor, this ruby kisser is actually a hill formation that rises from the desert floor.