Spring in the rolling, forested hills of Louisiana - home of the Slime Mould.

Spring in the rolling, forested hills of Louisiana – home of  slime moulds and fungi. C.Paxton photo and copyright

(Apr 1st, 2015) Redneck community at Crawfish Springs stunned by arrival of sickly looking blob monster over a meter long, and dripping slime. (Now identified as Fusicolla merismoides, a fungus)

Salmon pink, a large slime mould colony draped along a near vertical vine.

Salmon pink, a large slimy blob draped along a near vertical vine. C.Paxton photo and copyright.

Charles Paxton claims he found the pink slimy monster draped along a hanging vine beside the largest of the Springs looking like a creature from another World.

Science fiction buffs among you will have fond memories of The Blob and Son of Blob, movies in which an alien creature flows about town devouring everybody it can capture. Charles enjoyed those films a lot, and reports that he thinks this could well be one of its close relatives.

“No doubt about it, this could be his kin!” Charles exclaimed, wide-eyed and sweating buckets as he typed his password into slimoco.ning.com to announce the discovery to the online community of slime mould researchers.

Drip by drip, the slime mould pours itself onto the sticks and leaf litter on the ground below. C.Paxton photo and copyright.

Drip by drip, the fungus pours itself remorselessly onto the sticks and leaf litter on the ground below.   C.Paxton photo and copyright.

It’s unquestionably alive, yet it played dumb and refused to answer when questioned about:

a) its name

b) its purpose in life

c) whether it enjoys oozing about like this

d) whether it plans to grow even larger

e) what it intends to eat when it gets larger.

Once classified as Fungi, now Slime moulds (or molds) are thought to be aggregations of Protoctista, minute animals that behave cooperatively while feeding on decaying wood, fungi and bacteria. Hard to classify, usually small and fairly inconspicuous, they move slowly about, often forming quite attractive patterns.

This is the largest blob that I’ve ever seen. Has it finished growing?

What will the research community say of this specimen? I decided to apply for membership of  The Slime Mould Collective, share my images and find out what I can. Watch this space for more info and click here to view The University of Massachusetts web page on Protoctista. Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction, even on April Fool’s Day!

Update:12/05/2015 One of the scientist members of  The Slime Mould Collective, Niels Mortensen has kindly identified the specimen:

“Hi Charles.

Although it superficially looks like plasmodium it’s not a slime mold but a fungus. It’s an ascomycete called Fusicolla merismoides. It lives of sap in wounds on trees, grape vines etc.

So it turns out that I was an April Fool. Fooled by a fungus resembling a slime mould! Niels kindly referred me to this page on Fusicolla merismoides in the The Mushroom Observer

The lumpy surface of the colonial slime mould.

The lumpy surface of the Fusicolla merismoides.

I think I’ll join that community too.