Our Unofficial Atlas Obscura Quiz
  Book Reviews    September 25, 2016     Eric Larkin






Earn your Golden Fedora with this totally unofficial Dwarf + Giant Atlas Obscura quiz.


How well do you know planet Earth and the places found therein?

(answers at the bottom of the page)




Multiple Choice   Fill in the blank.


1. Welcome to Ghana’s Sacred ________ Pond! For a few cedi, a guide will attract one of our sacred _________  with a real live soon-to-be-dead chicken. Once the ________ has settled into a post meal stupor, you may approach carefully – But, do not disrespect them! They are sacred! Of course, it is perfectly fine to sit on one and take a photo.

  • crocodile
  • medicine man
  • flamingo



2. The Tree of Ténéré was, for many decades, the only tree for 250 miles in any direction in the Ténéré region of the Sahara Desert. Its remains are preserved at the Niger National Museum, and in the place where it once was now stands a metal sculpture in its honor. What finally brought down this mighty superhero of trees?

  • a local war
  • Crimson Hooded Saharan Woodpecker
  • a drunk guy in a truck


3. Skeleton Lake is in India, high in the Himalayas. It is a small, barren lake surrounded by human remains – SKELETONS! When first discovered in the 1940s, it was thought they were a wayward group of Japanese soldiers. Further examination indicated that they had died from blows to the head. Then radiocarbon dating pushed their age back to the 9th century. But what caused their fatal head injuries? Recent studies have concluded that it was _____.

  • hail
  • toboggan crashes
  • ritual sacrifice


4. The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death were created by Frances Glessner Lee, in 1943. They are a training tool for detectives, detailed and accurate depictions of various death scenes, made with ____. Oh my god, just… please google this one. Bloody footprints, nooses, tub drownings: they’re so funny and sad and cute.

  • dolls
  • carefully staged photographs
  • forensic illustrations


5. Who doesn’t like a good ______? How about one 38 feet tall? The Electrum, in New Zealand, is the world’s largest and is part of a set of sculptures on a farm, around which roam a collection of animals, including giraffes and goats, among others. It is switch-operated and will make your hair stand on end.

  • Ferris wheel
  • Tesla coil
  • grain silo


6. Great Pyramid of Cholula in Mexico is larger in volume than the Great Pyramid in Egypt. It had been so long in disuse when the Spanish arrived that it was thought to be just a hill – and they built a church on top. This vast structure, which stretches back 2000 years, was significant to which civilization?

  • Aztecs
  • Toltecs
  • Olmecs
  • Whoever was before the Toltecs
  • All of the Above


7. Fields of quartz crystal, tiny coal-black toads, carnivorous plants and impossible rock formations: it’s Lost World meets a Star Trek set. Mount Roraima is part of a series of mesas connecting Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana. It is a totally unique ecology lifted straight up _______ in the air over the forest jungles below.

  • 50 feet
  • 200 feet
  • 1000 feet


8. At Congo Mirador, Zulia, Venezuela, where the Catatumbo River meets Lake Maracaibo, you will find a mostly unexplained electrical phenomenon that stretches back hundreds of years. Not only is it so bright and regular that it is used by ships for navigating, but it has twice foiled plans of conquest by lighting up locations of sneaking enemies to underdog locals. Lightning storms that can last 10 hours at a time and strike 280 times an hour, occur here ____ nights per year.

  • 260
  • 160
  • 60


Real or Not Real?  Well, which is it? 


9. Longplayer is a piece of music, using Tibetan singing bowls, that will take 1,000 years to finish. It’s ongoing in London right now, and set to run… well, until it’s done – on December 31, 2999. You have time to catch it. And don’t worry – it’s not rude to leave before the end.


10. So, you’ve seen an Elf, and you think that makes you special? Pfft. Can you identify what kind of Elf you saw? Better get yerself some learnin’ at Icelandic Elf School. At this institution of education you will study the 13 species of Elf, learn the details of other people’s interactions with the Hidden People, and may even take a tour of some of the hot spots. Watch your step!


11. The Museum of Broken Relationships is exactly as advertised. It is a collection of artifacts from real-life relationships that could not go the distance. They include such varied items as stuffed animals, fake boobs and shattered glass – and those are just the things you’d expect to find. Also of note: fake leg, ax. Welcome to Eastern Europe (Croatia).


12. Remember in Cabin in the Woods when all the monsters get out at the same time, and everyone is completely hosed, because how do you deal with every monster ever all at once? If that movie had taken place in Tokyo, no one would’ve gotten hurt because the Japanese are ready for shit like that. At the Ueno Zoo in Japan, they actually do “escape drills”. In earthquake territory (basically the entire Pacific rim), it is not too hard to imagine a bunch of zoo animals escaping simultaneously. This Japanese zoo drills for this very possibility, and they do it by having dudes get into animal suits and run around like animals, escaping and pretending to attack people and such.


13. It has been officially established in scientific circles that large, complex civilizations could not have flourished in the Amazon basin in ancient times. And yet… Amazon Stonehenge, Brazil. Astronomically-arranged, 10 feet tall stone monoliths – 127 of them – seem to challenge the notion.


Where in the World?  Name the country…


14. O, ______, you’re so awesome. At the Gopher Hole Museum, you will find gophers of all walks of life going about their daily business: eating, fishing, getting married, playing poker, blacksmithing, curling – and so on. They’re all stuffed, of course. It’s cute, and also kind of horrifying. Imagine if aliens did this to us.


15. Hippos are an African animal, of course, but there is a pod of wild hippos 40-strong living in ________, near the former estate of this now-bullet-riddled drug lord, who kept a few in his personal zoo.


16. Crystals up to 39 feet long, humidity in the 90s, ambient temperature of 125 degrees, all in a chamber 1000 feet down: welcome to Cave of the Crystals in _____, jefé. The gigantic crystals in this place were formed over half a million years, and if you want to visit them, you need to wear a special ice suit & a respirator – so you don’t die – and be a scientist.


And saving the best for last….

17. Swim with the pigs at Big Major Cay, in ______ ! When you cruise over to this uninhabited island from a nearby resort, the wild pigs who live here will swim out to greet you. They are super nice and just wanna play! And probably eat any food you’re willing to share! This is the best thing ever.




Earth, Earth and all that is in it, even the “ugly bags of mostly water”!

Gape in wonder at how awesome everything is in the new Atlas Obscura book.

Don’t forget that Atlas Obscura is coming to The Last Bookstore October 4. Follow us on social media, and always always keep an eye on our website. (I hear we have a cool blog, too.)



1. crocodile, 2. a drunk guy in a truck, 3. hail, 4. dolls, 5. Tesla coil, 6. All of the above, 7. 1000 feet, 8. 260, 9. real, 10. real, 11. real, 12. real, 13. real, 14. Canada, 15. Colombia, 16. Mexico, 17. the Bahamas




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Dwarf + Giant