08 February 2009

Star jelly

This evening there was a broadcast on UK radio 4 about the mystery of "star jelly."

You can read about it on
BBC Scotland outdoors.

Although some theories have been suggested, there is no certainty as to what "star jelly" is. It is rather unlikely that it has fallen from the stars.

When we listened to the programme, we realised that we had found some star jelly on a walk on 22nd September 2008.

It was lying on grass at the edge of a farm road and looked like featureless transparent jelly. We thought that it might be a slime mould.

We took some of the star jelly home, and when Fred examined it under his microscope he could see small black dots and transparent hair-like structures.

22nd August 2009

Today I found more star jelly. This time it was at 675m on a Scottish hill, close to a small pool. You can see it in the foreground in this picture.

The most favoured explanation now seems to be that star jelly is unfertilised frog or toad spawn which is left when the frog/toad has been eaten by a predator.

19th September 2009

The Times has published an article on star jelly today

4th November 2009

Yet more star jelly. A friend found this while we were out on a walk together. Once again, it was on grass on open moorland.

We returned on 15th November and the star jelly was still there, though it had been trampled and didn't look so fresh. We also found two more lots of star jelly, each more than 1 km apart so apparently unrelated to each other. This suggests that it cannot be uncommon, at least not in this area.

3rd October 2010

More star jelly, this time near Helensburgh.

For some more far-fetched explanations as to what star jelly is, see the New Scientist and the Mearns Leader among others.


Colin Jacobs said...

It is a plant gel used in hanging baskets as a slow release food. Grey squirels dig it out and when they find it inedible they discard it

Sarah said...

Colin, that's a good idea, but not very likely here. The star jelly was by a road on open moorland with no trees for squirrels, and the nearest house was about 1 km away across a river.

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