RSPB Ham Wall 'slime' baffles experts
- 18 February 2013
- From the section Somerset
Scientists at a nature reserve in Somerset have been baffled by a jelly-like slime which has appeared in a number of locations at the site.
Experts are divided over the origin of the jelly which has been found on grass banks away from the water's edge at the RSPB's Ham Wall base.
Spokesman Tony Whitehead said although unknown, similar substances have been noted in historical records.
Visitors are being asked to report findings but warned not to touch it.
Scientific speculation as to the nature of the jelly is varied with one of the more favoured explanations that it is a form of cyanobacteria called Nostoc.
Others suggest that it is the remains of the regurgitated innards of amphibians such as frogs and toads and of their spawn.
"In records dating back to the 14th Century it's known variously as star jelly, astral jelly or astromyxin," Mr Whitehead said.
"In folklore it is said to be deposited in the wake of meteor showers."
Mr Whitehead added: "It's great that in this day and age that there are still mysteries out there.
"We've read a few articles now and much speculation.
"One suggested it was neither animal nor plant, and another that it didn't contain DNA, although it does give the appearance of something 'living'.
"Our reserve team will be looking out for the slime over the next few days, but if anyone can offer any explanations we'd be glad to hear."