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Star jelly (also called astromyxin, astral jelly) is a
gelatinous Gelatin or gelatine (from la, gelatus meaning "stiff" or "frozen") is a translucent, colorless, flavorless food ingredient, commonly derived from collagen taken from animal body parts. It is brittle when dry and gummy when moist. It may also be ...
substance sometimes found on grass or even on branches of trees. According to
folklore Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psycholog ...

folklore
, it is deposited on the Earth during
meteor shower A meteor shower is a celestial event A celestial event is an astronomy, astronomical phenomenon of interest that involves one or more astronomical object, celestial objects. Some examples of celestial events are the lunar phase, cyclical phas ...

meteor shower
s. It is described as a
translucent In the field of optics Optics is the branch of physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order ...
or grayish-white
gelatin Gelatin or gelatine (from la, gelatus meaning "stiff" or "frozen") is a translucent, colorless, flavorless food ingredient, commonly derived from collagen taken from animal body parts. It is brittle when dry and rubbery when moist. It may also ...
that tends to evaporate shortly after having "fallen." Explanations have ranged from it being the remains of
frogs A frog is any member of a diverse and largely carnivorous A carnivore , meaning "meat Meat is animal flesh that is eaten as food. Humans have hunted and killed animals for meat since prehistoric times. The advent of civilization all ...
,
toads Toad is a common name for certain frog A frog is any member of a diverse and largely carnivorous A carnivore , meaning "meat Meat is animal flesh that is eaten as food. Humans have hunted and killed animals for meat since preh ...
, or worms, to the
byproducts A by-product or byproduct is a secondary product derived from a production process, manufacturing process or chemical reaction; it is not the primary product or service being produced. A by-product can be useful and marketable or it can be consider ...
of
cyanobacteria Cyanobacteria (), also known as Cyanophyta, are a phylum In biology, a phylum (; plural The plural (sometimes list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ), in many languages, is one of the values of the grammatical number, grammatical ...

cyanobacteria
, to the
paranormal Paranormal events are purported phenomena described in popular culture, Folk culture, folk, and other non-scientific bodies of knowledge, whose existence within these contexts is described as beyond the scope of normal scientific understandin ...
. Reports of the substance date back to the 14th century and have continued to the present.


History

There have been reports of 'star-jelly' for centuries. John of Gaddesden (1280–1361) mentions ''stella terrae'' (
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...
for 'star of the earth' or 'earth-star') in his medical writings, describing it as "a certain mucilaginous substance lying upon the earth" and suggesting that it might be used to treat
abscess An abscess is a collection of pus Pus is an exudate An exudate is a fluid emitted by an organism through pores or a wound, a process known as exuding or exudation. ''Exudate'' is derived from ''exude'', "to ooze", from the Latin Lat ...

abscess
es."stella terre, que est quedam mucillago jacens super terram, prohibet apostemata calida in principio", from John of Gaddesden, "Rosa Medicinae" or "Rosa Anglica", Venice edition of 1502, folio 28. There is another reference to ''stella terrae'', as a component in a medical recipe, on folio 49 of the same work. A fourteenth-century Latin medical glossary has an entry for ''uligo'', described as "a certain fatty substance emitted from the earth, that is commonly called 'a star which has fallen'". Similarly, an English-Latin dictionary from around 1440 has an entry for "sterre slyme" with the Latin equivalent given as ''assub'' (a rendering of Arabic ''ash-shuhub'', also used in medieval Latin as a term for a "falling" or "shooting" star). In Welsh it has been referred to as "pwdre ser" meaning "rot from the stars". The
Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal historical dictionary A historical dictionary or dictionary on historical principles is a dictionary which deals not only with the latterday meanings of words but also the historica ...
lists a large number of other names for the substance, with references dating back to the circa-1440 English-Latin dictionary entry mentioned above: star-fallen, star-falling, star-jelly, star-shot, star-slime, star-slough, star-slubber, star-spurt, and star-slutch. The slime mold ''
Enteridium lycoperdon ''Enteridium lycoperdon'', the false puffball, is one of the more obvious species of slime mould or Myxogastria, typically seen in its reproductive phase as a white 'swelling' on standing dead trees in the spring, or on large pieces of fallen woo ...
'' is called "caca de luna" (moon's feces) by the locals in the state of
Veracruz Veracruz (), formally Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave (), officially the Free and Sovereign State of Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave ( es, Estado Libre y Soberano de Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave), is one of the 31 states which, along with Me ...

Veracruz
in Mexico. A long article in the
paranormal Paranormal events are purported phenomena described in popular culture, Folk culture, folk, and other non-scientific bodies of knowledge, whose existence within these contexts is described as beyond the scope of normal scientific understandin ...
magazine ''
Fate Destiny, sometimes referred to as fate (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Lat ...
'' declared star jelly to be of
extraterrestrial Extraterrestrial refers to any object or being beyond (wikt:extra-, extra-) the planet Earth (wikt:terrestrial, terrestrial). It is derived from the Latin words wikt:extra, ''extra'' ("outside", "outwards") and ''terrestris'' ("earthly", "of or rela ...
origin, calling it "cellular organic matter" which exists as "prestellar molecular clouds" which float through space. Another theory states that star jelly is most likely formed from the glands in the oviducts of frogs and
toad Toad is a common name for certain frog A frog is any member of a diverse and largely carnivorous A carnivore , meaning "meat Meat is animal flesh that is eaten as food. Humans have hunted and killed animals for meat since preh ...

toad
s. Birds and mammals eat the animals but not the oviducts which, when they come into contact with moisture, swell and distort, leaving a vast pile of jellylike substance sometimes also referred to as otter jelly. In 1910, T. Mckenny Hughes ruminated in ''
Nature Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter an ...
'' as to why poets and ancient writers associated meteors with star jelly, and observed that the jelly seemed to "grow out from among the roots of grass".


Scientific analysis and theories

* ''
Myxarium nucleatum ''Myxarium nucleatum'' (common names crystal brain or granular jelly roll) is a jelly fungus in the family Hyaloriaceae. The Sporocarp (fungi), sporocarps (fruit bodies) are watery white and gelatinous with small, white, mineral inclusions. It is ...
'', a clear, gelatinous fungus that grows on decaying wood. * Observations made of star jelly in Scotland support the theory that one origin of star jelly is from frogs or toads, which has been vomited up by
amphibian Amphibians are ectothermic, tetrapod vertebrates of the Class (biology), class Amphibia. All living amphibians belong to the group Lissamphibia. They inhabit a wide variety of habitats, with most species living within terrestrial animal, ter ...
-eating creatures. The German terms ''Sternenrotz'' (star snot) and ''Meteorgallerte'' (meteorite jelly) are known to refer to more or less digested frog spawn vomited by predators (Schlüpmann 2007). * Scientists commissioned by the
National Geographic Society The National Geographic Society (NGS), headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States, is one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational organizations in the world. Founded in 1888, its interests include geography, archaeology, and ...
have carried out tests on samples found in the United States, but have failed to find any
DNA Deoxyribonucleic acid (; DNA) is a molecule A scanning tunneling microscopy image of pentacene molecules, which consist of linear chains of five carbon rings. A molecule is an electrically Electricity is the set of physical ...

DNA
in the material. *
Thomas Pennant Thomas Pennant (14 June Old Style, OS 172616 December 1798) was a Welsh natural history, naturalist, traveller, writer and antiquarian. He was born and lived his whole life at his family estate, Downing Hall near Whitford, Flintshire, in Wales ...

Thomas Pennant
in the 18th century believed the material to be "something
vomited Vomiting (also known as emesis and throwing up) is the involuntary, forceful expulsion of the contents of one's stomach through the mouth and sometimes the Human nose, nose. Projectile vomiting is an intense form of vomiting, sometimes seen ...

vomited
up by birds or animals". * ''
Nostoc ''Nostoc'', also known as star jelly Star jelly (also called astromyxin, astral jelly) is a gelatinous substance sometimes found on grass or even on branches of trees. According to folklore, it is deposited on the Earth during meteor showers. St ...

Nostoc
'', a type of fresh water blue-green algae (
cyanobacteria Cyanobacteria (), also known as Cyanophyta, are a phylum In biology, a phylum (; plural The plural (sometimes list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ), in many languages, is one of the values of the grammatical number, grammatical ...

cyanobacteria
) forms spherical colonies made of filaments of cells in a gelatinous sheath. When on the ground, it is ordinarily not seen; but after rainfall it swells up into a conspicuous jellylike mass which is sometimes called star-jelly. *
Slime mold Slime mold or slime mould is an informal name given to several kinds of unrelated organisms that can live freely as single cells, but can aggregate together to form multicellular reproductive structures. Slime molds were formerly classified ...

Slime mold
s are possible causes, appearing suddenly, exhibiting a very gelatinous appearance at first and later changing to a dust-like form which is dispersed by rain and wind. The colours range from a striking pure white as in ''
Enteridium lycoperdon ''Enteridium lycoperdon'', the false puffball, is one of the more obvious species of slime mould or Myxogastria, typically seen in its reproductive phase as a white 'swelling' on standing dead trees in the spring, or on large pieces of fallen woo ...
'', to pink as in '''', to purple, bright yellow, orange, and brown.


Examples

* On 11 November 1846, a luminous object estimated at 4 feet in diameter fell at Lowville, New York, leaving behind a heap of foul-smelling luminous jelly that disappeared quickly, according to ''Scientific American'' * In 1950, four Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, policemen reported the discovery of "a domed disk of quivering jelly, 6 feet in diameter, one foot thick at the center and an inch or two near the edge". When they tried to pick it up, it dissolved into an "odorless, sticky scum". This incident inspired the 1958 movie ''The Blob''. * On 11 August 1979, Sybil Christian of Frisco, Texas, Frisco, Texas reported the discovery of several purple blobs of goo on her front yard following a Perseid meteor shower. A follow up investigation by reporters and an assistant director of the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History discovered a Battery recycling, battery reprocessing plant outside of town where caustic soda was used to clean impurities from the lead in the batteries, resulting in a purplish compound as a byproduct. The report was greeted with some skepticism, however, as the compounds at the reprocessing plant were solid, whereas the blobs on Christian's lawn were gelatinous. Others, however, have pointed out that Christian had tried to clear them off her lawn with a garden hose. * In December 1983, grayish-white, oily gelatin fell on North Reading, Massachusetts, North Reading, Massachusetts. Thomas Grinley reported finding it on his lawn, on the streets and sidewalks, and dripping from gas station pumps. * On several dates in 1994, "gelatinous rain" fell on Oakville, Washington, Oakville, Washington (state), Washington. * It was reported via the Fortean Times that on the evening of 3 November 1996, a meteor was reported flashing across the sky of Kempton, Tasmania, Kempton, Tasmania, just outside Hobart. The next morning, white translucent slime was reportedly discovered on the lawns and sidewalks of the town. * In 1997, a similar substance fell in the Everett, Washington, area. * Star jelly was found on various Scottish hills in the autumn of 2009. * Blue balls of jelly rained down on a man's garden in Dorset in January 2012. Upon further analysis these proved to be sodium polyacrylate granules, a kind of superabsorbent polymer with a variety of common (including agricultural) uses. They were most likely already present on the ground in their dehydrated state, and had gone un-noticed until they soaked up water from the hail shower and consequently grew in size. * Several deposits were discovered at the Ham Wall nature reserve in England in February 2013. It has been suggested that these are unfertilised frog spawn but – contrary to some reports – the substance has yet to be identified. * In the BBC programme ''Nature's Weirdest Events,'' Series 4, episode 3, (14 January 2015) Chris Packham showed a specimen of "star jelly" and had it sent to the Natural History Museum, London, Natural History Museum, London, for a DNA analysis by Dr. David Bass who confirmed it was from a frog. He also found some traces of Eurasian magpie, magpie DNA on the jelly which may point to the demise of the frog.


In fiction

* Sir John Suckling (poet), John Suckling, in 1641, wrote a poem which contained the following lines:
As he whose quicker eye doth trace A false star shot to a mark'd place Do's run apace, And, thinking it to catch, A jelly up do snatch
* Henry More, in 1656 wrote:
That the Starres eat...that those falling Starres, as some call them, which are found on the earth in the form of a trembling gelly, are their excrement.
* John Dryden, in 1679, wrote:
When I had taken up what I supposed a fallen star I found I had been cozened with a jelly.
* William Somervile, in 1740, wrote in ''The Talisman'':
Swift as the shooting star, that gilds the night With rapid transient Blaze, she runs, she flies; Sudden she stops nor longer can endure The painful course, but drooping sinks away, And like that falling Meteor, there she lyes A jelly cold on earth.
Sir Walter Scott, in his novel ''The Talisman (Scott novel), The Talisman'', wrote:
"Seek a fallen star," said the hermit, "and thou shalt only light on some foul jelly, which, in shooting through the horizon, has assumed for a moment an appearance of splendour."
An unidentifiable substance that falls to earth during a meteor-type event forms the background to "The Colour Out of Space", a 1927 short story by the American horror and science fiction author H. P. Lovecraft. Some observers have made a connection between star jelly and the Paramount Pictures, Paramount movie ''The Blob'', in which a gelatinous monster slime falls from space. ''The Blob'', which was released in 1958, was supposedly based on the Philadelphia reports from 1950 and specifically a report in the ''Philadelphia Inquirer'' called "Flying 'Saucer' Just Dissolves" where four police officers encountered a UFO debris that was described as evaporating with a purple glow leaving nothing. Paramount Pictures was also sued for this movie by the author Joseph Payne Brennan, who had written a short story published in ''Weird Tales Magazine'' in 1953 called "Slime" about a similar creature. In the 1978 film ''Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978 film), Invasion of the Body Snatchers'', the alien spores that fall to Earth in a rain shower form blobs of jelly that grow into flowers which produce the seed pods. In the 2011 novel ''The Isle of Blood'' by Rick Yancey, star jelly (referred to as "Pwdre Ser" in the story) is the saliva of a monster called "Magnificum" that falls to earth along with blood and shredded human remains, sometimes woven into a nest or bowl of sorts, known as a "nest, nidus". Anyone who comes in contact with Pwdre Ser becomes "infected", and will slowly decline in health until they are literally a living corpse. Mary-Ann Constantine's 2016 novel, Star-Shot, is named after another word for the phenomenon, and features a character taking a sample to be analysed.


See also

* Angel hair (UFO), Angel hair * Manna *
Nostoc ''Nostoc'', also known as star jelly Star jelly (also called astromyxin, astral jelly) is a gelatinous substance sometimes found on grass or even on branches of trees. According to folklore, it is deposited on the Earth during meteor showers. St ...

Nostoc
* Panspermia * Red rain in Kerala


References


Bibliography

* Belcher, Hilary and Erica Swale. "Catch a Falling Star". ''Folklore'', Vol. 95, No. 2 (1984): 210–220. * Charles Fort, ''The Book of the Damned'' (1919), 41–50. * Gordon, Benjamin Lee, ''Medieval and Renaissance medicine'', Philosophical Library, 1959 * Nieves-Rivera, Angel M. 2003. ''The Fellowship of the Rings – UFO rings versus fairy rings.'' ''Skeptical Inquirer''. Vol. 27, No. 6, 50–54. * Schlüpmann, Martin (2007):
Laichballen auf Baumstümpfen, Baumstubben etc.
' Arbeitskreis Amphibien und Reptilien Nordrhein-Westfalen. Version of 2007-MAR-07. Retrieved 2007-JUL-13. Article in German; contains photo of slightly digested specimen.


External links


The 'jelly' mystery
at the BBC
Jelly Sighted in the Lake District Oct 2011
Information on Sightings and Analysis in October 2011 * {{DEFAULTSORT:Star Jelly UFO-related phenomena Welsh folklore Forteana Earth mysteries