Entries tagged with “Ooky”.


You may remember that some time back I told you about the exceedingly odd Bleeding Tooth Fungus that grew in my backyard. Well now, after Violet Towne spotted the above seaweed-like stuff on our driveway the other day, I think I may have to start up a new Cow Category called ‘Weird Shit That Mysteriously Appears In My Garden’. There were dozens of clumps of it, and it looks just like something you might find on the beach at low tide.1 Only we’re 20 kilometers away from the nearest ocean, and this stuff was still damp.

Turns out that this is the colony form of a rehydrated genus of cyanobacteria called Nostoc. Nostoc can be found pretty much everywhere in the world, and due to the bacteria’s ability to survive (and even thrive) in harsh environments it is even quite happy in the Arctic and Antarctic.

Most of the time the Nostoc colony goes completely unnoticed, but after a lot of rain, it may swell up into jelly-like blobs such as the ones in my garden. Its sudden appearance on the ground with no apparent cause has earned it the folk name of Star Jelly, as it was thought to have fallen from the sky.

Nostoc is also known (much more evocatively) as Witches’ Butter or Troll’s Butter and some species are in fact eaten, particularly in Asia where people seem to delight in gobbling down disgusting things. There’s no way I’m chowing down on it. For one thing it’s been found to containe Beta-methylamino L-alanine, a toxic amino acid that has been implicated in degenerative brain diseases.2

I have a simple dietary guideline in this respect: Never eat or drink anything that looks or smells like some kind of biological excretion. It has served me well thus far.

  1. Or in a troll’s nostril. []
  2. Although I have to say that in my opinion anyone who would consider eating it is well along the degenerative brain disease path in the first place… []

Sometimes you find some very disconcerting things whilst browsing in secondhand shops.


A man is in critical condition in Sydney after taking a dare to eat a slug, the ABC reports. The 21-year-old caught rat lungworm disease which is caused by Angiostrongylus cantonensis, a parasitic worm that is carried by slugs and snails.

Personally, I am all for letting natural selection take care of these things. Maybe he’ll come around here and lick my fungus.



Some years ago a tree in our backyard was cut down, and the stump cleared. Now, all through the year we have this weird fungus that keeps on growing up where the roots were. Violet Towne likes to ruthlessly lay into it with the mattock, but despite her best efforts, a little bit of rain and up it comes again.

It’s really quite an unsettling organism. It has a kind of a dead fleshy texture and colour… If you look very closely, it’s sort of brain-like. And recently it’s started to ooze something that looks awfully like blood…

If anyone actually knows what’s going on here, I’d love some more information. What is the red stuff? It seems very slightly oily… not particularly sticky. It washes off in the rain and you can quite clearly see little pits where it was – so it’s something that the fungus has evolved to do. It doesn’t seem to attract insects and I can’t for the life of me think of what it might be for (other than to conjure images to disturb my sleep).



You may remember that a little ways back I told you about a film called Shriek of the Mutilated, which, aside from having one of the best movie titles ever, is a work of cinema so terrible that it’s a must see. My friend Sean points out that io9 has a short clip up at the moment which allows you to get a taste of the full awfulness of this creation.

As well as some truly frightful yeti action, the snippet features some awesome ‘girl-in-lingerie-terror’ acting. Truly, girls, you need to watch this. Among other things you will learn that if you are trapped in a bathroom by an insane over-sized teddybear-with-fangs, you should flap ineffectually at the window with your hands and pull your hair across your face a lot.

Apparently SOTM is now available on DVD. This is something that the world has needed for many decades.

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*You have to see the film.

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