Spotted in Indiana: Is This a Strange Alien Fungus or Something a Bit More Mundane?
Mother Nature is a pretty amazing lady - she never ceases to surprise and amaze me. For example, the strange situation pictured below is something I've never seen before and didn't really know was even possible. It was spotted by Laura Nirenberg in some woods in Northern Indiana. There is a simple (and dare I say boring) explanation to what's really going on, but before I tell you about that, let's talk about what else it 'could' be.
What It's Not, But 'Could' Be
At first glance, I thought this chunk of wood looked like a dragon, and so did several people who commented on the photo (it was posted on the Indiana Nature Lovers Facebook page). Some suggested it was an ancient dragon, a fossilized dragon, a fire-breathing dragon, and dragon drool. A couple of other folks suggested it might be something prehistoric like a "dinolog" or a "Woodasaurus" (one of my favorites).
What It Really Is
The answer is simple, but no less interesting to see - the stuff coming out of that log is frozen sap. I didn't even know that was a thing, and I certainly have never seen it happen before. It is really common, though, just as common as water freezing when the temperature drops below 32 degrees. It might be normal to see sap frozen as it trickles down the side of a tree - what elevates this picture to "extra neat" status is the fact that the sap is essentially frozen in mid-air. How slow was that stuff moving, and how cold must it have been to freeze in mid-drip like that?