This “Paint” is Alive! Viral Photo Stuns New York
Nature is incredible, and there is absolutely no shortage of its stunning features here in the Hudson Valley. A recent photo caught many New Yorkers off guard when they were introduced to a living organism unlike any other.
"Think this is just a photo of a yellow paint splotch? Think again – this splotch is alive!", began the Facebook post from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC). At first (and second) glance, that's exactly what the yellow smear on a fallen tree looks like... until we zoom in.
Slime Mold in the Hudson Valley, NY
The "paint" splotch is actually Physarum polycephalum, which the DEC says "is not really an animal, a plant, or even a fungus". So what is it?? Well, it's technically "slime mold". A closer look (below) backs up the slime part, and how it "hunts" is fascinating.
Physarum polycephalum in New York Forests and Beyond
This slime mold is an international phenomenon, with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) calling it "a relentless, shapeshifting yellow goo" that "eats anything that gets in its path". Especially a white fungus that it seems to find particularly tasty (below)
Even though the slimy-crawly mystery organism seems like it's pulled out of a horror movie, it is in fact a vital component to forest health. Like many fungi and even scavenging animals, Physarum polycephalum helps with environmental health by "keeping the forest tidied up of dead and decomposing matter". Check out an amazing time-lapse video of the slime mold on the hunt below.