What are These Yellow Splotches in Hudson Valley Forests
All this week you are sure to be hearing about all kinds of creepy crawly things as we get closer to Halloween. Scary and gross are likely to be the themes of many conversations so what a perfect time to introduce you to Slime Mold.
Is it a plant? Is it a fungus? Is it an animal? One thing for sure is it's alive and likes to make a snack out of all the icky and decaying things in the forest. As you hike and hunt this fall is the Hudson Valley there is a good chance you might encounter a colony of these single celled organism roaming across a dead log making a snack out of other fungus.
Now before you go thinking I am some sort of Slime mold specialist let me be honest. I never heard of this until I stumbled across a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) post on Facebook from last week that asked if you could identify a bright yellow patch on a log. So I clicked and low and behold a there was a BBC YouTube video of this weird creepy mold at work.
My favorite part of the video is when the snail races by giving you an idea of the actual speed that video was shot at in order to show you in quick-time how this group of single celled yellow slimly monsters go to work snacking of dead things in the forest. Don't blink at time marker 1:29 or you will miss the snail. Science geek like me or not you are going to find this stuff really cool. The BBC announcer and the James Bond themed music does lend some extra effect to the mystery of Physarum Polycephalum, that is slim molds official name.
According to the NYS DEC Facebook post this splotch as they call it can move 4cm per hour, it has the ability to navigate mazes and is so fascinating it recently had it's own exhibit at a zoo in Paris. If you see some on your travels the NYS DEC is encouraging you to shared your photo with them in the comments on there post.