On many occasions, in 1896, 1957, 2001 and 2012, Kottayam, Idduki and Wayanad districts of Kerala witnessed a strange phenomenon – rain that was blood red in colour!
Residents said this red rain stained clothes, burned leaves, and even made soil infertile.
And there's more...
This red rain reportedly:
Only fell over very small areas, not more than a few kilometres
And was mostly preceded by loud thunder and a flash of light.
The Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS) in Kerala found the brownish-red solids in the rain to be rich in minerals such as nickel, copper, manganese, titanium and chromium.
In the fourth episode of The Quint's new series 'India Unsolved', where we decode theories behind unresolved mysteries, we try to find out how these red substances polluted the rain?
Theory 1: Meteor Shower
The Centre for Earth Science Studies initially attributed the red rain to an exploding meteor containing these red particles.
In 2003, physicists Godfrey Louis and Santhosh Kumar said the meteor possibly caused the thunder and lightning.
This does not explain how debris from similar meteors containing red particles exploded in the same area, every time...
Theory 2: Spores from Algae
Later, CESS and the Tropical Botanical Garden Research Institute reported:
There was no meteoric, volcanic or desert dust present in the rainwater
But spores from an algae that lives on tree trunks and wet rocks that have a strong orange colour, infected the rain.
Also, researchers at Stintec, a lab in Sri Lanka, found that these spore cells replicated without DNA, even under temperatures exceeding 572°F.
Replicating without DNA? That brings us to the wildest theory.
Theory 3: Aliens
Louis and Kumar claimed that it was indeed spores that turned the rains red but these spores came from extra-terrestrial life. Basically, from space to Kerala, on a meteor...
"Extra-terrestrial biology is responsible for this red rain. The spores were on the meteor that exploded over Kerala prior to the rainstorm. They were growing at temperatures that would kill other life forms."Godfrey Louis, Physicist
This theory also fails to explain how similar spores, on a meteor, landed only over specific parts in Kerala? From 1896 to 2012?