Wikipedia claims that:

The Kerala red rain phenomenon was a blood rain (red rain) event that occurred from July 25 to September 23, 2001, when red-coloured rain sporadically fell on the southern Indian state of Kerala. Heavy downpours occurred in which the rain was colored red, staining clothes pink. Yellow, green, and black rain was also reported. Colored rain had been reported in Kerala as early as 1896 and several times since then, most recently in June 2012.

Further, it states:

It was not until early 2006 that the colored rains of Kerala gained widespread attention when the popular media reported that Godfrey Louis and Santhosh Kumar of the Mahatma Gandhi University in Kottayam proposed a controversial argument that the colored particles were extraterrestrial cells.

In the rest of the article, it has given some details supporting this claim as well as criticism against this claim.

There was a similar incident of "Red rain" in Sri Lanka (where I live) a few days ago.

Rare showers of red rain fell for over 15 minutes in Sewanagala, Monaragala and Manampitiya,Polonnaruwa yesterday morning hours of yesterday and day before yesterday. According to Meteorology Department sources red rain fell heavily in these areas and the reason has not been found yet.

Red rain in Sewanagala and Manampitiya left red frost on the ground. This is the first time red rain was witnessed in Sri Lanka. The Health Ministry Secretary informed Medical Research Institute (MRI) Director Dr Anil Samaranayake to conduct a study to ascertain the reasons for red rain by taking water samples from Monaragala and Polonnaruwa.

Increase in the acidity of the air and sand storms are the usual reasons for red rain. However, there are no sand storms in Sri Lanka. India had red rain last year and Indian scientists discovered a variety of micro organisms as a reason for the rains. Since the micro organisms had no DNA, they guessed it had to be a strange phenomenon.

Some local officials claim that this can be similar to the Kerala incident and the water could contain similar organisms!

  • 4
    What further evidence would it take to persuade you that the story is exactly as Wikipedia states it: one team with an un-peer-reviewed, self-contradictory crank conjecture that the newspapers love to print, and every other scientist saying it contains DNA and is of Earth origin. Occam's Razor has this one covered. What else do you need?
    – Oddthinking
    Nov 16, 2012 at 4:31
  • 1
    If it comes from Earth, it's not from a different planet. Amirite? Nov 16, 2012 at 20:51

1 Answer 1


The claim of extraterrestrial origin has been debunked in the same wiki:

The hypothesis' authors – G. Louis and Kumar – did not explain how debris from a meteor could have continued to fall on the same area over a period of two months, despite the changes in climatic conditions and wind pattern spanning over two months. Samples of the red particles were also sent for analysis to his collaborators Milton Wainwright at Sheffield University and Chandra Wickramasinghe at Cardiff University. Louis then incorrectly reported in 29 August 2010 in the non-peer reviewed online physics archive "arxiv.org" that they were able to have these cells "reproduce" when incubated at high pressure saturated steam at 121 °C (autoclaved) for up to two hours. Their conclusion is that these cells reproduced, without DNA, at temperatures higher than any known life form on earth is able to. They claimed that the cells, however, were unable to reproduce at temperatures similar to known biology.

Regarding the "absence" of DNA, Louis admits he has no training in biology, and has not reported the use of any standard microbiology growth medium to culture and induce germination and growth of the spores, basing his claim of "biological growth" on light absorption measurements following aggregation by supercritical fluids, an inert physical observation. Both his collaborators, Wickramasinghe and Milton Wainwright independently extracted and confirmed the presence of DNA from the spores. The absence of DNA was key to Louis and Kumar's hypothesis that the cells were of extraterrestrial origins.

Louis' only reported attempt to stain the spore's DNA was by the use of malachite green, which is generally used to stain bacterial endospores, not algal spores, whose primary function of their cell wall and their impermeability is to ensure its own survival through periods of environmental stress. They are therefore resistant to ultraviolet and gamma radiation, desiccation, lysozyme, temperature, starvation and chemical disinfectants. Visualizing algal spore DNA under a light microscope can be difficult due to the impermeability of the highly resistant spore wall to dyes and stains used in normal staining procedures. To stain the spores' DNA, which is tightly packed, encapsulated and desiccated, spores must first be cultured in suitable growth medium and temperature to first induce germination, then cell growth followed by reproduction.

Milton Wainwright, mentioned above, wrote about this in New Scientist:

There appears to be an increasing tendency among scientists to come up with wild explanations when asked by the press to comment on unusual, novel phenomena. A good example is provided by comments about the recent Indian red rain phenomenon (4 March, p 34).

Red rain is morphologically similar to fungal spores or algae, as I have recently been able to confirm by microscope analysis of samples. There is no evidence that I am aware of to support suggestions that red rain is dust, sand, fat globules or blood.

This has also been covered in some detail on skeptoid.com.

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