A Slime Mold comes to Visit

Two Weeks in the life of one Fuligo septica in Pictures

***Unfinished work in Progress. Please enjoy what’s here to see & read, and thank you for your patience.***

Meet Bobby Sue, a beautiful Dog Vomit Slime Mold, who chose to visit us in Green Lake for a month.

A lovely giant amoeba the color of dog vomit appeared upon the edge of our front steps one day in May 2015. I shared a home in the Latona-Tangletown area of Greater Green Lake, a network of neighborhoods in the northern half of Seattle, back in those days. Each one of my three daughters thought this mxyamoeba was gross, gross, and, oh, so gross!

“Meet Bobby Sue,” I announced. “It’s a slime mold!”

“Eeeeeeeewuh!” Kate, my middle child, declared with a grimace.

“Looks like dog puke!” Talia noted as she pretended to be frank and unperturbed.

“Not looking at it!” said Morgan as she hurried past the creature.

One of Planet Earth’s very own living oxymoron, a Native Alien or Alien Native, take your pick for glowing blobs of scramble-egg brains without any brains or legs.

I was fascinated by Bobby Sue, however, and have been with slime molds since a boy. During my youth I lived mostly in Virginia and spent a lot of time in the Carolinas. I would discover these strange, pulsating blobs of colorful protoplasm oozing across the big pile of sawdust next to the cowbarn on the farm, dripping slowly from rotting logs in the woods, and appearing upon grassy lawns the morning after a heavy rain. At least twice I kept a slime mold for a pet. Intuitively I gave them mixed-gender names such as Henry Ann. They thrived in cardboard boxes upon a diet of mulch mixed from barnyard sawdust, old leaves, and grass clippings. Eventually they would dry up, form weird little tentacles with eyeball-like sacs at their tips, and seemingly die. Found out they were morphing from large moving protoplasmic multi-nuclei cells into spore stalks.

Many years later I discovered slime molds had not only been recategorized more than once between different kingdoms and phyla of life, but also had several hundred genders and thousands, possibly tens of thousands of different sexes. They exhibited remarkable intelligence for not having any recognizable brain or nervous system. Slime molds taunted clade-obsessed biologists with a mixed multitude of traits clearly recognizable as belonging to animals, or to plants, or to fungi, or to protists and even bacteria, but without a clear preponderance to place them cleanly into one particular classification of life. Indeed, the term, “slime mold” is itself an umbrella for at least two if not more distinctly different kinds of such organisms.

 

***Unfinished work in Progress. Please enjoy what’s here to see & read, and thank you for your patience.***

 

William Dudley Bass
Saturday 21 October 2017
SeaTac/Seattle, Washington
Cascadia
Earth

 

Copyright © 2017 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.

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