The Great Kentucky Meat Shower

You read that title correctly, this is not a drill. Over 100 years ago, on March 3rd 1876, large hunks of flesh began falling from the sky over Olympia Springs, KY. Allen Crouch and his wife, both witnesses to this occurrence, shared their expereince in a New York Times article published the following week. Crouch said, "The meat, which looked like beef, fell all around her [his wife]. The sky was perfectly clear at the time, and she said it [the meat] fell like large snowflakes.

Most of the meat chunks were about 5x5 cm, and began spoiling around the town the next morning. Two unidentified men turned up to the strange event on March 4th and tasted the meat-rain. They declared it tasted like venison or mutton.

But where did this mystery meat come from?

The first theory burst forth about three months later, when someone called Leopold Brandeis, who had been sent samples in glycerine, announced the meat was not meat. He claimed it was "no more or less than nostoc".

Okay, so what the hell is nostoc? Well, it's a type of cyanobacterial that forms colonies that are protected by a gelatinous envelope. It is well known for swelling up into jelly-like masses whenever it rains. It has garnered colorful nicknames like star jelly and witches' butter throughout the years.

Notice anything wrong with this statement? "Whenever it rains"...but eye witness reports confirmed it was a perfectly clear night. And, with that, the first logical theory was dismissed.

Another histologist, Dr. JWS Arnold, studied the specimens and concluded that they consisted of animal cartilage and lung tissue.

Dr. L.D Kastebine followed up with Dr. Arnold by writing in an 1876 edition of the Louisville Medical News in which he surmised the strange meaty substance to be...projectile vulture vomit.


The above picture is unrelated to the story and comes from Flickr user Marius Boatca it is licensed under Creative Commons.