The birth of a baby Cthulhu


Actually it's an Octopus Stinkhorn (Clathrus archeri), a type of fungus. But a girl can dream, can't she?

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Take control of a giant fungus by carefully destroying it


As concepts for games go, this is a new one: propelling a regenerating fungus through a long series of puzzles by surgically destroying it and forcing it to regrow. And it works. Mushroom 11 is one of the more fascinating reinventions of the platform game in recent memory, the sort of game that feels new beneath your fingers—that asks you to move and think in ways you don't expect—but makes instinctive sense nonetheless.

As the player, you operate a glittering circle that annihilates any part of the fungus that falls beneath it, like an insect incinerated under a microscope. But life always finds a way, and so the organic mass will grow away from your burning gaze, allowing you to propel it forward through crevices, over obstacles, and even into the air.

While there are times when you'll need to move quickly to avoid falling into lava, which will indeed obliterate you, most of the time it's better to be deliberate than it is to be fast. Although you can't control the fungus precisely—it often feels like squeezing a tube of green toothpaste—you can trim it like an oozing bonsai until it eventually does what you want. You can even divide the goop into different parts, use them to independently trigger different elements of a puzzle, then simply erase the part you don't need and move on.

The game doesn't announce any particular plot when it begins, and would probably be just as fun even if there were no story at all. Read the rest

When mushrooms go to war

Fungus can fight. Using poisons and flesh-dissolving enzymes (think: mycological "meat" tenderizers), they can defend their turf from incursions by other fungi. Here, a sulfur tuft mushroom (top right) and Phanerochaete velutina (bottom left) hash it out. Read the rest

Video game lets you kill the most scientifically accurate zombies yet

The Last of Us is a new video game about the zombie apocalypse. But not just any zombie apocalypse. The Last of Us zombies are based heavily, and accurately, on a genus of parasitic fungus that really does take over the brains and bodies of non-human animals like tarantulas and ants. Kyle Hill has a lot of delightfully horrifying things to tell you about this fungus at the Overthinking It blog. Read the rest

The origin story of a fungal super hero

In comic books, radiation exposure always leads to awesome superpowers. In reality, not so much. Except in the case of Cladosporium cladosporioides, a fungus exposed to high doses of radiation during the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown. Not only did C. cladosporioides survive it gained a superpower — the ability to "eat" radiation. Read the rest