It’s time for another edition of “Guess the Alien!” Today’s game features an alien creature discovered by a woman in South Africa in her tin of pilchards. An extra ten points to players in the U.S. who know what a pilchard is without googling it.

The strange-looking thing was found in “tinned pilchards” by a domestic worker in Johannesburg when she sat down for lunch (when else would you eat pilchards?). The distraught (and now hungry) worker showed it to her boss, Hayley Diedericks, who posted a picture on Facebook (of course) with this comment:

My poor domestic worker found this THING in a tin of pilchards… bloody hell.

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The thing in the tin of pilchards

She then contacted the Oceana Group, the supplier of said tin of Lucky Star brand pilchards. The official word received from Oceana Group is as follows:

While we have yet to complete our investigation to determine the root cause of the problem, we can confirm that the photograph shows a marine crustacean, which was accidentally canned with the pilchards during the canning process.


Along with an apology, a company spokesperson also assured everyone that the alien creature was a mantis shrimp, not a Parktown prawn as first reported. Ten more points if you know what a Parktown prawn is without googling it.

OK, it’s time to give the answers and tally up the points. A pilchard is a big sardine (not quite an oxymoron). In England, sardines are unofficially pilchards that are 6 inches long or less. Pilchards are also sold as “Cornish sardines,” a high class name that has increased sales. A “tin” is a colloquial British Empire name for any metal can, whether it contains tin, is tin-plated or has no tin whatsoever. And a “Parktown prawn” is not a prawn but a species of king cricket (Libanasidus vittatus) found in South Africa, especially in the Johannesburg suburb of Parktown.

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A Parktown prawn

No matter how you scored, you’re now ready for a tough crossword puzzle. And you have some great names for your band.

Put your hands together for the Tinned Pilchards!

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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