Things On This Planet That Aren’t As Natural As You’d Think

Of course, there are a lot of things that we know aren’t totally natural: buildings, cities, and things around us are recognizably created by or impacted by humans. However, some things you would never expect are actually the result of human meddling.

Here are things on our planet that are not-so-natural phenomena.

Coconut Trees Aren’t Native To North America Or The Caribbean

Coconut palm tree, empty sunbeds, sailing boat  at the white sandy beach of luxury Resort and Hotel Cape Santa Maria
Photo Credit: EyesWideOpen / Getty Images
Photo Credit: EyesWideOpen / Getty Images

Although coconut trees grace tropical beaches all over the world, they actually aren’t native to anywhere in North America, South America, parts of Africa, or the Caribbean, where we see them today. All the coconut palm trees were introduced by humans who brought them over from Southern Asia.

Oranges Are A Man-Made Fruit

Close-up of oranges
Photo Credit: Wolfgang Kaehler / LightRocket via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Wolfgang Kaehler / LightRocket via Getty Images

Oranges do not naturally occur in the wild; they are actually a man-made hybrid fruit created by combining the pomelo, a large citrus fruit, and the mandarin about 4,500 years ago in China or another part of southeast Asia.

Grapefruits Were Created By Accident

View of a basket of ruby red grapefruits, with one grapefruit cut in half
Photo Credit: Tom Kelley / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Tom Kelley / Getty Images

Grapefruits were the accidental result of a Spanish explorer planting pomelo seeds next to some orange trees in 1693. A little bit of cross-pollination and time later, Europeans only found out about the fruit they had accidentally created in 1750 when they accidentally stumbled across it.

Humans Accidentally Changed The Color Of This Pool

photos compare morning glory pool in the 1960s (blue) to now (yellow and green)
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Morning Glory Pool in Yellowstone National Park attracts large numbers of tourists who think the yellow/green color of the pool is natural. It was actually blue 60 years ago due to the bacteria living in it. Over the years, tourists have thrown pennies, rocks, and other items into the water, causing the water temperature to lower, and changing the ecology (and, therefore, the color) of the hot spring.

Orange You Surprised Carrots Weren’t Originally Orange?

carrots and various vegetables on display in a fruit and vegetable store
Photo Credit: DENIS CHARLET / AFP via Getty Images
Photo Credit: DENIS CHARLET / AFP via Getty Images

We all think of carrots as being bright orange, but naturally occurring carrots were actually purple and white—and they weren’t particularly edible until about 1,000 years ago. The orange type was popularized as part of a Dutch political tribute in the 17th century, and the color stuck.

This Beach Didn’t Exist Until 1992

A man meditates as he parctices yoga at dawn at La Barceloneta Beach
Photo Credit: JOSEP LAGO / AFP via Getty Images
Photo Credit: JOSEP LAGO / AFP via Getty Images

The beach located in Barcelona, Spain, is one of the most commonly photographed tourist destinations in Europe, but the beach itself is totally artificial. The beach was actually created for the Olympics when they were hosted there in 1992, using sand imported from the Sahara.

The Amazon Basin Isn’t Totally Natural

aerial view of stretch of amazon basin
Photo Credit: GUILLERMO LEGARIA / AFP via Getty Images
Photo Credit: GUILLERMO LEGARIA / AFP via Getty Images

The Amazon rainforest is one of the most amazing natural landscapes, but the basin that runs through it and parts of the forest were shaped by humans erecting dams, creating irrigation canals, and planting trees in certain areas, making it an interesting combination of natural and human influence.

Almonds Used To Be Dangerous To Eat

Almonds, edible seeds of almond
Photo Credit: DeAgostini / Getty Images
Photo Credit: DeAgostini / Getty Images

Modern almonds we eat today are the result of hybridization. The original almonds were bitter and could be deadly if consumed in large amounts. Scientists, however, have not been able to figure out what they were bred with to create the modern, sweeter almonds.

Most Pearls Aren’t Coming From The Ocean

A handful of cultured South Sea pearls at a pearl farm
Photo Credit: Alex Bowie / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Alex Bowie / Getty Images

While pearls were originally cultivated naturally in oysters, most now are made in “pearl farms,” where people use specific tactics to mimic the natural process in a controlled environment to create more perfectly round pearls.

This Really Is Bananas, Gwen Stefani

bananas are seen for sale
Photo Credit: Christopher Furlong / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

The bananas we find in grocery stores today don’t occur naturally in the wild, but are a hybrid of the Musa acuminata, which isn’t particularly flavorful, and the Musa balbisiana, which had many seeds inside. That way, we get the best of both worlds.

Humans And Nature Collaborated On This One

photo of colorful rock erupting
Photo Credit: Education Images / Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Education Images / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Natural geothermic pressure combined with human error were behind the creation of the beautiful Fly Geyser in Nevada. A drilling expedition that went wrong combined with the natural heat and pressure caused a geyser to explode.

Humans Tortured Ourselves With Broccoli

Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry
Photo Credit: Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post via Getty Images; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post via Getty Images; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Broccoli did not exist before human interference; the vegetable kids love to hate was deliberately created through the selective breeding of wild cabbage by Italian farmers over hundreds of years.

When Human Interference Gives You Lemons…

View of a basket of lemons, with one lemon cut in half
Photo Credit: Tom Kelley / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Tom Kelley / Getty Images

At this point, I’m wondering if any citrus is natural. Lemons are the result of crossbreeding of a citron (which essentially looks like an ugly lemon) and another citrus fruit similar to an orange—perhaps a mandarin.

Lake Mead Is Totally Unnatural

This aerial view shows Lake Mead in Nevada
Photo Credit: DANIEL SLIM / AFP via Getty Images
Photo Credit: DANIEL SLIM / AFP via Getty Images

Lake Mead is the largest man-made reservoir in the United States, created when the Hoover Dam was built. Sitting on the border of Nevada and Arizona, the lake is a primary source of water for a few of the surrounding states.

Killer Bees Are Humanity’s Frankenstein’s Monster

Bees are pictured on a electrical post
Photo Credit: ABDELHAK SENNA / AFP via Getty Images
Photo Credit: ABDELHAK SENNA / AFP via Getty Images

Africanized bees (known more colloquially as “killer bees”) didn’t exist until the 1950s, when scientists decided to crossbreed the traditional European honey bee with other species to create a bee that could produce more honey. They ended up creating a monster.

Vanilla Used To Be Difficult To Grow

vanilla plant
Photo Credit: FlowerPhotos / Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Photo Credit: FlowerPhotos / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

While vanilla is a naturally occurring plant, it was only naturally found in Mexico and surrounding areas. When people tried to plant it in other parts of the world, bees were unsuccessful in pollinating the flowers. It wasn’t until a 12-year-old slave developed a technique to hand-pollinate the plants that it was able to be grown anywhere.

Tomatoes Weren’t Always This Delightful

red tomatoes
Photo Credit: Dominika Zarzycka / NurPhoto via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Dominika Zarzycka / NurPhoto via Getty Images

It’s hard to imagine tomatoes ever looking different, but they were originally smaller and darker, bearing closer resemblance to berries on a vine. The original tomatoes so closely resembled the deadly nightshade berry that Europeans avoided them for years.

It’s One Of The Oldest Manipulated Crops

The photographer holds an ear of corn
Photo Credit: Sean Gallup / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Corn has been a staple food in North America since tribespeople made their way onto the continent thousands of years ago. The original corn was just a type of tall grass that was cultivated and selectively bred for thousands of years until it became the crop we know today.

Shaking It Up, Are We?

A man sits on top of what used to be his home while watching bulldozers clear the ruins of Old Anjar
Photo Credit: Paula Bronstein for UNICEF / Liaison
Photo Credit: Paula Bronstein for UNICEF / Liaison

While earthquakes naturally occur due to the shifting of tectonic plates underneath the surface of the Earth, other earthquakes have been the result of construction works, such as deep wells and mines, collapsing beneath the earth.

Red Radishes Aren’t Natural

Radishes seen displayed
Photo Credit: Karol Serewis / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Karol Serewis / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

There’s nothing like the flavor kick that comes from a radish, but these root vegetables have not always been red. The original radishes were black, and you can still buy them in that color today, but most have been genetically modified to be white or red.