It pays to slow down. I was meandering through the little woods at Oyster Bay, stopping to look at every rotting log and patch of lichen. On one of those logs, now merely a heap of crumbling woody debris, a couple of deep red spots caught my eye.
|Lichen, wood, and something red.|
I pulled away the top layer of wood; it was entirely loose, and underneath, I found this:
Slime molds are ... I want to say weird; strange may be better. Amazing, anyhow. They belong to the Protist kingdom: "any eukaryotic organism (that is, an organism whose cells contain a cell nucleus) that is not an animal, plant, or fungus."(Wikipedia)
A plasmodial slime mold is enclosed within a single membrane without walls and is one large cell. This "supercell" (a syncytium) is essentially a bag of cytoplasm containing thousands of individual nuclei. (Wikipedia)
|The fruiting bodies, still immature.|
The immature fruiting bodies are encased in a smooth outer coat. The coat splits open, releasing the "cotton candy" stage that gives it its name; a fluffy mass, still pink or red, on a tiny stalk.(See iNaturalist photo, here.)
Slime molds develop fast; I hoped to go back today to see if I could catch it as cotton candy, but it turned out too rainy.
I replaced the wood "lid" when I was done.
I was reminded of this xkcd cartoon, about dog vomit slime, a relative of the carnival candy.
El moho mucilanigoso plasmodial está encerrado dentro de una sola membrana sin paredes celulares y consiste en una sola célula grande. Este "super-célula" (un syncitium) es esencialmente un saco de protoplasma que contiene miles de núcleos individuales. (Wikipedia)