More bizarreness from Modern Mechanix

Can anyone explain how something like this might have happened?


Maybe I lack imagination, but I’m having trouble figuring out a plausible explanation.


  1. #1 Skeptyk
    July 22, 2007

    Plausible? Yeah, April Fools issue would be plausible. or hoax. Bored harvesting apricots?

  2. #2 DCP
    July 22, 2007

    Uhm… perhaps some peculiar shaped seed (or stone or whatever it’s called in English)? Or Intelligent Design, by any chance?

  3. #3 notmercury
    July 22, 2007

    Surprised the Laetrile didn’t grant the little guy immortality.

  4. #4 Jon H
    July 22, 2007

    That’s just begging to have a human fetus photoshopped in there, and distributed as “Baby Jesus Seen In Apricot!”

  5. #5 jim
    July 22, 2007

    So assuming it wasn’t a fraud or the human brain playing tricks on you (e.g. suspend reality for a moment), how would you discover this?

    (munch) Hey, this apricot has an unusual flavor. It … it… TASTES LIKE CHICKEN!

    Actually, if you look at it upside down, it kinda resembles Kim Jong Il.

  6. #6 Chris
    July 22, 2007

    Why would you assume it wasn’t a fraud? Seems like the most plausible explanation to me.

    How many witnesses were there when the apricot was first cut open? Was it videotaped? From multiple angles? For that matter, is it a real bird embryo or just pareidolia? One mediocre black-and-white photo isn’t very conclusive.

    I wouldn’t *think* you could cause this just by stuffing a bird egg into the right part of a fertilized apricot flower so that the apricot grows around it, but maybe you could. If the timing worked out right, the apricot could be full grown by the time the bird tried to hatch (and failed, since it was surrounded by an apricot, but it’d already be a “well-developed bird embryo” by that time). Assuming, of course, that bird eggs don’t need to exchange gas across their shells to develop properly. That’s pretty far-fetched, though – fraud and pareidolia are much more parsimonious explanations, until there’s evidence to rule them out.

  7. #7 Alison
    July 22, 2007

    Oh, how silly. Of course the chicken came before the apricot. If they’d sliced the apricot in half, they wouldn’t have found a perfectly developed embryo, they’d find HALF a perfectly developed embryo.

    I hope they give it as a snack to Bat-Boy.

  8. #8 DrFrank
    July 22, 2007

    My guess is pareidolia coupled with an odd shaped stone, although it’s hard to tell with a single b&w image.

    There’s so much information that is completely impossible to find out that now there’ll be no way of deciding for sure but, as Chris said, fraud and pareidolia are by far the most likely explanations.

  9. #9 sailor
    July 22, 2007

    Common guys the whole thing is carved out of a block of soap. Even the aprricot does not look that real.

  10. #10 Niobe
    July 23, 2007

    Newborn bird gets the boot from an older sibling, falls on a branch in the center of a flower, gets encased by the subsequently forming fruit.

    Or it’s a fraud.

  11. #11 Samantha Vimes
    July 23, 2007

    Funny shaped pit.

  12. #12 xpsilikatzoy
    July 23, 2007

    There’s this theory that every bird comes from apricots, but humanity is misleaded by apricot-worshipers who put bird embryos in eggs, so as not to ruin apricot’s reputation (their fruit reputation that is). 🙂

    You should also investigate the theory of dinosaur eggs and why dinosaurs disappeared (they say coconut worshipers run out of eggs). 😀

  13. #13 Rich
    July 23, 2007

    The top half of the “embryo” is very bird-embryo-like (“head” and “wing”), but the bottom half isn’t at all. Funny shaped pit.

  14. #14 Amenhotep
    July 23, 2007

    Great! We are one step closer to being able to develop artificial wombs for humans! Might need a big old melon, though. In Egypt, there’s a myth about gods being “born” from lotus flowers (the Pharaoh as Horus).

    The difficulty here is that this would be all too easy to fake – cut apricot in half, remove stone, replace with fetal chick – hey presto.

  15. #15 Warren
    July 23, 2007

    The real question is obviously which came first — the chicken or the cobbler?

  16. #16 Calli Arcale
    July 23, 2007

    This reminds me of something I once read. In Britain, they have barnacle geese, which are related to the Canada goose, but smaller. Apparently there was a widespread belief that they were actually born from barnacles, not eggs. The belief persisted partly because barnacle geese never breed in Britain, but mostly because if they were born from barnacles, then they were technically seafood and thus acceptable to eat during Lent. 😉

  17. #17 daedalus2u
    July 23, 2007

    Looks like fraud to me.

    I am no expert on apricot physiology, but in most plants if the flower is not fertilized properly, the fruit never develops. Obviously there is some sort of feedback between the embryonic apricot and the fruit such that resources are not wasted on the fruit if there is no seed.

    I think that is why there are no seedless apricots (none reported via google). The only “seedless apricots” are apricots that have been deseeded, then (usually) dried.

    Apricots take several months to develop from flower to fruit. A dead bird embryo could not last that long. It woul decay. Apricots flower well before birds hatch. There is no sign of a shell, or of a seed. No fragments of either.

    If you look at the period of incubation for a number of different songbirds with embryos of similar mass to this one

    They are all only a few weeks long at most. A 2 month long incubation period would likely be fatal.

    The most plausible explanation is fraud.

  18. #18 jre
    July 23, 2007

    Apparently there was a widespread belief that they were actually born from barnacles, not eggs.

    Even more appropriately to the present thread, barnacle geese were believed to grow on trees:

    Sir John [Mandeville] claims to have encountered a plant which produced not only fruit but also edible meat which was consumed with great relish by the people of China where this marvelous plant was supposed to be native. In his travelogue he writes:

    “…there grows a manner of fruit like a gourd, and when it is ripe, men cut it in two and find within a little beast, with flesh and blood and bone, like a little lamb, but without the wool. Men eat both the fruit and the beast, and it is a great marvel. I have tasted it myself.”

    This account, although certainly not worthy of belief today, would have been accepted readily by Europeans of the fourteenth century. The reason was that a fairly common bird, the barnacle goose, was thought by them to “grow on trees” in just the same sort of way. Sir John claims to have topped his Chinese hosts by telling them about these marvelous geese:

    “… as great a marvel to them, which is common to us, was that of the barnacle geese. For I told them that in our country there are trees that bear a fruit that becomes a flying bird, but if the fruit falls to the ground the bird soon dies, and that the birds are very good meat for men to eat. What I said caused such marvel that some of the listeners swore it was impossible.”

    The very best stuff I’ve found on this subject was written by rocket-boy Willy Ley. For more of Sir John, as well as a wonder-chamber of real-life oddities, try the collection Exotic Zoology, consisting of excerpts from his books on strange and apocryphal biology. Now out of print, but used copies are around — if you see one, get it.

  19. #19 Jon Newman
    July 23, 2007

    Perhaps this is a canned apricot and the embryo came from a bird’s nest in the tree from which the apricot was harvested. The embryo proceeded to be canned along with the apricot and eventually came to rest in the pit.

    Just so.

  20. #20 Steve
    July 24, 2007

    As with invisible people that live in the sky, humans are pattern recognizers and we are desperate to find meaning in those patterns. The same traits that gave us advantage can fool us past their necessity.

    Turn the picture any other way and it doesn’t resemble a bird at all.

  21. #21 alibim
    July 24, 2007

    Definitely no bird. Oddly deformed apricot pit, quite likely; hoax, equally likely; little birdie – no way!! (Or, as the Tui beer ads say here in NZ – ‘yeah, right!’

  22. #22 Lepht
    July 24, 2007

    i was gonna speculate clever fraud, but then it occurred to me, “Hey L, what kind of person gets up in the morning and decides to find a half-developed birdie and shove it into soft fruit?” and then the idea of biting into said meaty-fruity two-in-one at breakfast made me toss my little cookies.

    thanks a bunch, Orac, you stomachless plastic box.


  23. #23 makeminetrauma
    July 26, 2007

    Just another clever Ornithological practical joke.

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