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The red rains of Kerala, an alien life form?

From July to September 2001, during monsoon, in the India state of Kerala, red rains fell.

This was easily discovered: first, because many wells had collapsed, people used to put washbowls outside to collect some water rain. They found it was tainted red.

Second, people who hung clothes outside for drying found out that when it rained on it, the white clothes had taken a slightly reddish hue.

The media, officials and scientists rushed in to wonder at, or investigate, the cause of the red rain.

First, some people claimed the rain was red because of a meteor fall. The only base was that some people had heard a loud bang and seen a flash some hours before one red rain shower came down. But this was very probably just a thunderstorm.

Then, scientists performed some analyses on red rain samples. They found no red dust, no meteoritic dust, no volcanic dust.

What they did find was that the rains were colored by fungi and algae, i.e. lichen, which comprised a prolific local red algae of the Tretephlia genus.

Then, these results were forgotten, and other proposed that the red rain was caused by falls of "butterfly blood."

Later still, a scientist said the red rain was "possibly" a microscopic alien form that fell from space.

Then, this notion hit the media.

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This page was last updated on June 27, 2007