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What the Heck Is This?

The photographer duo who took this image ask: "Is it molten lava from an erupting volcano or a tie-die pattern from a 1960’s T-shirt?"

No, not so easy as that. Got any ideas?

See the full size image and explanation below.

It's a variegated water lily leaf floating on a lily pond at the Mission San Juan de Capistrano in San Juan Capistrano, California. 

"The water lily family, Nymphaeaceae, is an ancient family with remains having been found in European pre-Ice Age stratas," explain the photographers, Linda and Dr. Dick Buscher. "Europeans first discovered the beautiful plants in the deep, wide lagoons of South American jungles early in the last century.  Water lilies have now spread around the world, adding beauty to both natural and man-made ponds."

Water lillies on a pond at the Mission San Juan de Capistrano in San Juan Capistrano, California. (Image credit: Linda and Dr. Dick Buscher)

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Robert Roy Britt
Rob was a writer and editor at starting in 1999. He served as managing editor of Live Science at its launch in 2004. He is now Chief Content Officer overseeing media properties for the sites’ parent company, Purch. Prior to joining the company, Rob was an editor at The Star-Ledger in New Jersey, and in 1998 he was founder and editor of the science news website ExploreZone. He has a journalism degree from Humboldt State University in California.