5. A Comic Book
But not just any comic book: the very first Superman comic book ever written. When an unnamed man discovered this comic book in a storage unit he bought in 2011, he, unlike other people on this list, knew exactly what he was holding in his hands. This was one of the most valuable things ever found inside a shipping container, and he was quick to try to cash in on his find.
Unfortunately, he discovered that this prize was not legally his to sell. When he checked with an expert to find out the full value of the comic, the expert just so happened to be the man who had sold that same comic to famous actor Nicholas Cage in 1995. Cage had paid one million dollars for it in 1995, only to have it stolen from him in 2000. The comic book was returned to its rightful owner, and Cage was beyond happy to have his beloved Superman issue back.
For several years, a shipping container full of dinosaurs has been making its way around the world. These are not prehistoric dinosaurs, though, but fourteen life-sized, man-made dinosaurs, part of the Dinosaurs Return exhibition. The lifelike models are broken down and reassembled at each stop of the shipping container. The containers are shipped by train or by boat, and go around the world spreading joy to children and teaching them about dinosaurs. The exhibit is one of the largest of its kind, and has been set up in places that range from theme parks and science centers in the United States to zoos in the United Kingdom.
3. Human Corpses
In the 1990s, George Gennai of Seattle, Washington was just another guy buying a storage unit from an auction. When he opened it up, however, he found a human skull sticking out from under a pile of garbage bags – and evidence of a gruesome triple murder. Gennai called the police, who found the body of a woman named Barbara Bender and her two children, who had been missing since 1980. They had last been seen loading up a moving truck to leave her husband, whom she was divorcing.
The police immediately went after her husband, who confessed to having killed his wife and his children and putting them in the storage container. His new wife had been responsible for paying for the storage unit and had stopped making payments that year, twelve years after the crime. This is what led the unit to be auctioned off, and Gennai to make his awful discovery.
Unfortunately, this is not the only time human remains that have been found in a shipping container. As the policemen from the Bender case were quick to point out, storage units are often used as a place to hide evidence, as they are normally private and hard to get into for someone from the outside.
2. An Entire Ecosystem
On a more cheerful note, another shipping container carrying radial tires was discovered in the depths of Monterey Bay in 2011. This container and several others had fallen off of a ship in 2004 and was investigated by a submersible camera sent by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).
Inside, the MBARI researchers found an entire functioning ecosystem with fish, coral, algae, and other forms of life living inside. The discovery of this little reef made them begin a new project in which they investigate the effect shipping containers have on underwater life and ecosystems. Their discoveries led to the owners of the boat that lost the shipping containers (and didn’t retrieve them) paying for their crime, with the proceeds going to fund this continuing project.
1. A Meat Smoker… with a Human Leg Inside
When Shannon Whisnaut bought a storage unit at an auction in 2007, sight-unseen, he was delighted to find that there was a meat smoker inside. He loved to smoke meat, and he couldn’t wait to try it out by having a barbecue in his backyard. After gathering up his meats to cook, he opened the lid of the smoker for the first time, and found a human leg lying on the grill!
Alarmed by this gruesome discovery, Whisnaut called the police, who began to track down the owner of the leg. While they believed the owner had most likely been killed in a homicide or other crime, they soon discovered that the owner of the leg was alive and well… and was the very man who had sold Whisnaut the storage unit. He had lost his leg in a plane accident three years before and had taken it home from the hospital with him so that he could have it in his casket with him when he died. Not knowing where else to keep it, he had stored it in the storage unit. After a few years, though, the man had to sell the unit to make some money. He had forgotten that the leg was inside.
Oddly, this isn’t the weirdest part of this story. When Whisnaut found out who the leg belonged to, he didn’t want to give it back to him. Instead, he wanted to keep it, because he had been charging people to come to his yard and take a look at the leg in his smoker. The two actually had to go to court over it, and eventually the original owner was given back his leg.