Not about creatures but what the hell. I've heard/read two stories about fungus in the news recently so will include them...
In our local paper (which makes you pay for some content, lame), some guy was writing about the Aseroe rubra
aka. Starfish/Anemone stinkhorn fungus. Sounded pretty gross. This guy agrees:http://www.blufftontoday.com/bluffton-news/2011-05-25/starfish-fungi-causes-stink
Shocking, vile, outrageous, repellent, bizarre, or just plain “gross” — take your pick of any number of adjectives for this thing. The scientific name may be translated as “disgusting” and “red.”
Of course, it is not a plant at all, but a fungus. This week’s mystery may not be a plant, but it is still mysterious. (At one time, all organisms on earth were presumed to be either plant or animal, but considerable scientific research has modified this scheme to include other groups. Although they are not true plants, the study of fungi remains a component of botany.)
Our fungus is one of the fascinating members of the “stinkhorn” group, which are related to familiar mushrooms and puffballs. All of the stinkhorns are characterized by producing a strong odor at the time their spores are shed, and this one is no exception.
The other fungus that interested me I heard about on NPR. No, I don't care if it is supposed to be like viagra, just thought the whole process of what it does to its host that was interesting...http://www.npr.org/2011/10/09/141164173/caterpillar-fungus-the-viagra-of-the-himalayas
In the produce aisle at your local grocery story, button mushrooms go for about $4 a pound, Shitakes cost about twice that, and black truffles can run $800 a pound.
But that's nothing compared to a rare Asian fungus that sells for $50,000 a pound.
In English, it's called caterpillar fungus. But it's better known throughout Asia by the Tibetan term, yartsa gunbu, which means "summer grass, winter worm."
Britt Bunyard, a professor at the University of Wisconsin and editor of Fungi Magazine, explains that this fungi (Cordyceps Sinensis) makes its living by getting inside a host insect and ultimately killing and consuming it. In this case, the insect that's invaded is the caterpillar of the ghost moth.
"This caterpillar will bury itself down a couple inches into the soil. Meanwhile it doesn't know it, but this fungus is digesting it from within and then in the spring this ... tissue erupts out the head."
It may sound gross, but he says this pinky-sized mummified caterpillar is the most expensive fungi in the world.
"The price doesn't compare to other fungi; the price compares to things like gold and platinum and diamonds."
So what makes it so pricy? Well, it's also known as the Viagra of the Himalayas.