Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Mysterious superwhatevers #4

Yahoo! advertising has showcased another rich crop of biological oddities, this time drawn from a mix of plant and animal kingdoms. I say "oddities", but they're not - eggs and seeds are commonplace biologically - but they're certainly odd when used irrelevantly in advertising something completely different. The ads all have the slogan "Eat THIS, Never Diet Again" and lead to the blurb for the latest fad weight-loss nostrums: "Garcinia Cambogia" (which has mysteriously changed its name almost overnight from the same advertiser's "Garcinia Gambogia") and "Green Coffee Bean".

This first one appears to be the eggs of some species of Apple Snail, probably the invasive Pomacea canaliculata. I haven't been able to identify the source image, but there are plenty of images of its distinctive pink eggs online.
This, as I described at Mysterious superfruit #2, is a Finger Lime (Citrus australasica), the fruit of a thorny shrub native to Australia; it has lately acquired a reputation as a gourmet "lime caviar".
Google Images didn't find this one (I wonder if the advertisers are getting sneaky and trying to avoid identifiable images). But I'm pretty sure it's Alaska Salmon roe - see the image at Alaska Fish Radio.
This one: I don't know. It might be more roe.
I couldn't identify this one ... but (24th November update) Emily at Ephemeral Curios has a likely identification that it's a salp (or, I think, two of them). See the comments section below.

These are slug eggs: image cropped from a Dutch Flickr photo by "Jolle" (eitjes van 'n naaktslak).
More fish eggs: these are eggs of Arctic grayling, an image from a series by the brilliant photographer Paul Vecsei showing the developing embryos. See Inside the egg at the blog Way Upstream.
One I recognise: these are the edible fruit of the longan (Dimocarpus longan), a tree of the soapberry (Sapindus) family, closely related to the lychee. They're rather nice - while very similar to the lychee, they have a pleasant aromatic muskiness - and our local greengrocer occasionally has them in.
These I recognised too. They're wasabi peas,  a hot (spice-hot, not temperature-hot) snack made by dusting dried cooked peas with a seasoning powder containing the very pungent brassica, wasabi (aka Japanese horseradish). The image seems to come from this Romanian online food magazine.
More salmon roe, I think
A third I recognise: a raw cocoa pod (the fruit of Theobroma cacao). The image tracks to a stock photo from Visuals Unlimited.
No luck, but it looks like some kind of fish eggs on seaweed.
Most likely slug or snail eggs again ...

... and finally, more slug or snail eggs, the image cropped from this Flickr photo - teeny tiny eggs - by "Luckybon".

Whatever the dubious merits of the advertised products, these guys certainly provide interesting biological quizzes ...

- Ray


  1. Endlessly fascinating! :-)

    What a shame that copyright probably makes a book too problematic to be workable...

  2. Found another one:
    Google doesn't seem to know what it is (it yields a bunch of results about "Weird Colombian Fruit: Tentacle-skin on the inside with larvae-like seeds that you eat), and neither do I.

  3. I Googled various combinations of "Colombian fruit", and it appears to be an unripe maracuy√°: a variety of passion fruit (Passiflora edulis), turned inside-out with the outer peel hidden. The Spanish Wikipedia (here) has an image showing the tentacle-like pith.

  4. Interesting! That particular superfruit does look awfully bizarre-- at first glance I thought it was a crustacean shell infested with some other critter's eggs.

    Also, this:
    might be the gelatinous sea creature called a salp. Google turns up similar ones, such as the second image in this post:

    I've seen another that might also be a salp-- didn't think to take a screenshot at the time, but someone else did (or rather, photographed their screen):

    1. That looks right. I'd never heard of a salp, much less seen one. I'm learning more biology from these pictures and ensuing conversations than I have for decades.

  5. I just removed some of those apple snail eggs from a post out back in the lake (Orlando)... that photo looks just like the ones I have here. The largest shell I have found so far is about what you can get your hand around