Yonaguni Island

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Yonaguni, Japan
  • 25 November 2009
  • Magazine issue 2736
Pictures of spreads from New Scientist magazine

The tiny Japanese island of Yonaguni, near Taiwan, has become famous for the huge submerged rock structures found near its shores – the ancient city of a lost civilisation, some claim.

Imposing sets of steps and terraces rise up through the clear water from around 25 metres depth. The structures, with their flat surfaces and near right angles, certainly look deliberately carved (pictured left). Masaaki Kimura, a geologist at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, claims he has identified a huge pyramid, along with castles, monuments and a big stadium, all connected by roads. He says he has also found walls and water channels, as well as quarry marks, stone tools and a stone tablet carved with ancient lettering.

Though popular, Kimura’s claims about Yonaguni are disputed. Robert Schoch, a geologist at the University of Boston who has dived at Yonaguni many times, thinks the formations are mostly natural. …

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