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1999 & 2000, November - February

November 1999 - February 2000 Mystery Image

November 1999 - February 2000 Mystery Image
Image by Charles Kazilek

Wow, for a slow few months ending 1999, the first two months have been full of great guessing! No one got the exact identification for the image, but some people were very close. Great work to everyone

... and what was it? The simple answer is paper. The more detailed answer is hand-made paper. Well, actually no hands were used to make this paper, because it was made by wasps. Yes, it is from a paper nest created by wasps. The image is from a scanning-laser confocal microscope. Several of the mystery images have been from a scanning-laser confocal microscope. You can see another paper image in April 1998 mystery page. A little history is in order. Humans credit the first true paper was made in the year 150 B.C.E. by the Chinese. The fact is wasps were making paper long before humans existed.

How long before humans? Would you believe before the dinosaurs? Yes, wasps predate dinosaurs. To see more paper images, visit the Paper Project . "What the wasp already knew, humans had to learn." - Gene Valentine


For those of you that are curious, here are some numbers from our list of guesses. 

  • 61% guessed that it was a plant or part of a plant.
  • 29% guessed that it was part of an animal.
  • 2% guessed that it was mineral.

Some of the creative single answers are listed below. 

  • Trees falling down in a forest.
  • It's a big piece of fungus that is home to over 10,000 small blood sucking insects that known as micro reebops.
  • It is a picture of a jungle that is inhabited by man eating arabian monkeys.
  • I think it's tree trunks in a tropical jungle in South America after the evil corporations used slash-and-burn techniques.
  • The residue on a spark plug. There seems to be sulfur in the background.
  • Some kind of fibers... or some kind of plant material that is completely digested.
    This is as close to getting the exact answer without saying wasp paper.
ant, photo by Alex Wild

It's like having your own microscope! Visit our Zoom Gallery to explore and have fun zooming in and moving around each image.

Share to Google Classroom

Be part of Ask A Biologist

by volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteer page to get the process started.

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ant, photo by Alex Wild

It's like having your own microscope! Visit our Zoom Gallery to explore and have fun zooming in and moving around each image.

Share to Google Classroom

Be part of Ask A Biologist

by volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteer page to get the process started.