The world didn't end in 2012, nor did our fascination with UFOs.
Did a UFO hover over the summer Olympic games? Can we believe an ex-CIA agent who claimed that extraterrestrials caused the 1947 Roswell incident? Will DNA tests prove the existence of Bigfoot?
Those questions were at the heart of 2012's list of the top 10 UFO and unexplained phenomena news stories. Scroll through the list to see them all.
One hint about our number one story of the year: it had nothing to do with UFOs, but captured the attention of people all over the world.
TOP 10 UFO AND UNEXPLAINED PHENOMENA NEWS STORIES
What were the Top 10 UFO and Unexplained Phenomena stories of 2012? Click through this gallery to see our choices.
This unidentified object was videotaped from a passenger plane over Seoul, South Korea, in April, prompting skeptics and believers to try and figure out the origin of the UFO. And it also re-opened an <a href="http://huff.to/IFjzmE">ongoing debate</a> on whether some UFOs can be considered a safety issue for the commercial airline industry.
In March, several people -- including HuffPost writer Lee Speigel -- videotaped a variety of <a href="http://huff.to/HtkbNH">unusual-looking lights in the night sky</a> flying around the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas. It was fascinating to watch as the objects moved in and out of what’s known as the Luxor Sky Beam, a powerful light beacon that shoots straight up into the sky from atop the Luxor pyramid structure. In the end, though, the alleged UFOs were mostly explained away as a combination of birds, bats and bugs, all seemingly attracted to the Sky Beam. At left is a composite of images showing some of these flying critters.
Stephen McCullah used Kickstarter.com in May to raise nearly $30,000 to, well, kickstart his expedition to the Republic of Congo. He and his team are hoping to bring back photographic evidence to confirm eyewitness accounts over, many decades, of small sauropod, <a href="http://huff.to/KJ4PGU">long-necked, four-legged dinosaurs</a> -- resembling a brontosaurus. Previous expeditions to the swampy Likouala region of Congo have been unsuccessful in their quest to find one of these alleged animals. At the very least, McCullah’s team -- who, at last contact, were waiting for all of the necessary paperwork and permits to be completed -- hope to search the area for other new species, large or small, including reported canine-sized tarantulas. Pictured at left is a 5,000-year-old rock wall painting, found in the Amazon rain forest in South America. It depicts a group of hunters surrounding what appears to be a large sauropod dinosaur. The animal is similar to the reports of a creature in Africa.
In 2011, researchers discovered something unusual sitting on the bottom of the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Finland (sonar image at far left). It took them almost a year later to return to the area with a diving team that went down and photographed the circular object that they described as looking like “<a href="http://huff.to/LsQXOx">a giant mushroom</a>.” (images at right) There has been no positive identification of what’s become known as the Baltic Sea UFO.
In March, the National Atomic Testing Museum of Las Vegas unveiled a controversial exhibit: “Area 51: Myth or Reality.” The controversy stemmed from questions about why a Smithsonian Institution-affiliated museum would devote so much space to a top secret military facility rumored for many years to be the testing ground for alleged captured alien spacecraft. Moreover, this new exhibit featured the reported <a href="http://huff.to/H53dW1">remains of a UFO that crashed in Russia</a> in 1986. The display of these materials is clearly marked as Authentic Alien Artifact.
Six months after the controversy of the Area 51 exhibit, the National Atomic Testing Museum was in the news again when it gathered together four retired military colonels to speak out on what they either knew or suspected about the true nature of UFOs. One of those men, Air Force Col. Charles Halt (pictured here), outright <a href="http://huff.to/QAqnGb">accused the federal government of a UFO cover-up</a> that involved a secret agency allegedly involved with possible alien visitors to Earth. “I’m firmly convinced there’s an agency and there is an effort to suppress,” Halt said.
This year saw two stories turn the UFO “community” upside down over the issue of whether or not an extraterrestrial craft crashed near Roswell, NM, (as reported in the Roswell Daily Record on July 8, 1947). First, in July of 2012, Chase Brandon, a 35-year CIA veteran (pictured below left), revealed that he found a box marked “Roswell” at CIA headquarters in Langley, VA, during the mid-1990s. Brandon told HuffPost that, inside the box, he saw materials and photos that convinced him the Roswell UFO was “<a href="http://huff.to/NhonTB">a craft that clearly did not come from this planet</a>, it crashed and I don’t doubt for a second that the use of the words ‘remains’ and ‘cadavers’ was exactly what people were talking about.” A month after this story broke, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Richard French (pictured below right) told HuffPost exclusively that there were, in fact, <a href="http://huff.to/Mfhwf5">two UFO crashes near Roswell</a> and that “the first one was shot down by an experimental U.S. airplane that was flying out of White Sands, NM. It shot what was effectively an electronic pulse-type weapon that disabled and took away all the controls of the UFO, and that’s why it crashed.”
During the opening ceremonies of the 2012 summer Olympics in London, several videos captured what appeared to look like a genuine <a href="http://huff.to/MQaNcH">disc-shaped UFO over the stadium</a>. Despite how a Goodyear executive confirmed to HuffPost that it was, indeed, their airship which, of course, provided all of the stunning overhead videos of the ceremonies, many people remained convinced that a true alien visitor stopped by to watch the proceedings. Pictured is a composite of four images of a Goodyear blimp.
At the end of November, Texas veterinarian Melba Ketchum claimed that, after a five-year study of more than 100 samples of various alleged Bigfoot/Sasquatch hair samples, skin, saliva and blood, she believes her team has isolated DNA that will <a href="http://huff.to/Tlzc7P">prove the existence of the tall, legendary hairy beasts</a>. Ketchum concluded that Bigfoot may be a human relative that somehow developed around 15,000 years ago, resulting from a hybrid cross between female Homo sapiens with an unknown primate. As 2012 ended, Ketchum (and Bigfoot believers and skeptics) awaited the publication and determination of her findings in a peer-reviewed journal. Pictured at left is a still image from the most hotly debated and controversial film of an alleged Bigfoot. The film was taken by Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin in northern California in 1967.
The number one unexplained phenomena story for 2012 just has to be the mammoth hoax perpetrated on the world in which a video was posted on YouTube, claiming to show a living, breathing, not-quite-extinct <a href="http://huff.to/TgZPuq">woolly mammoth, crossing a river in Siberia</a> (pictured above left). At the beginning of the video, which quickly went viral, the words Siberian Mammoth Copyright Michael Cohen/Barcroft Media were superimposed over it. Cohen had been previously criticized in the media for his YouTube postings of questionable things like UFOs and aliens. And then, documentary filmmaker Lou Petho wrote a comment in the HuffPost story about the mammoth in which he claimed that it was he who filmed the original river footage (pictured below left) in Siberia -- minus the mammoth. Pitho determined that somewhere along the way, his video had fallen into the hands of someone who used it as the backdrop for an elaborate hoax in which an alleged mammoth (or an out-of-focus bear) was most likely added to his original footage, and that’s what made it around the world. “It was obviously orchestrated and I assume money was made over it, so I was annoyed about that,” Petho told HuffPost. Barcroft Media claimed to have only licensed the video from Cohen, who told HuffPost that he felt that someone else must have “filmed the same spot at another time.” One problem with that, however, is how to explain things like the clouds being in the same position in the sky in both videos. Barcroft worked out a financial arrangement with Petho and the mammoth hoax video was eventually taken off the Internet.