Cartographers have a very intricate job to pull off – these guys study, design, produce and distribute digital and conventional maps, which need to be precise line for line.
This means that their job doesn't leave them any room for creativity. However, good cartographers will always find a way to sneak a little something into the lines on a map. Mapmakers working for the Swiss Federal Office of Topography have secretly inserted hidden illustrations into official maps of Switzerland for several decades.
The Swiss cartographers have sneaked in several drawings, from a marmot hiding among the contour lines of the Swiss Alps to a fish blending into the grooves of a French nature preserve.
And yet, these drawings have gone unnoticed for many years. A rendering of a naked woman remained hidden for almost 60 years in the municipality of Egg, located in northern Switzerland. Her curved, reclined shape was composed in 1958 from a green marshland and blue river lines and was only noticed in 2012.
The mammoth, which was created out of short, parallel lines indicating mountainous slopes, doubled as the creature's fur. Its face, tail, and paws were concealed with clever relief shading and went unnoticed for five years. Other drawings, such as a fish, a doodled cartoon face, a bear and a spider, was found hidden in the maps.
It is still unclear why the cartographers decided to include various hidden doodles. Maybe the mapmakers just wanted to have a bit of fun, or perhaps it's a hidden secret or unique locations.
Each Swisstopo map undergoes a heavy proofreading process to ensure that no line is out of place.
But it seems that their creativity may not live on. Once these illustrations are found, they are removed from the next edition of the maps and disappear from circulation.
A spokesperson for Swisstopo stated that "Creativity has no place on these maps".
Despite this, we think these hidden illustrations should be celebrated as though they're the maps' true hidden treasures.