WTF is growing out of the floor in my basement? It looks like glossy human hair and it is freaking me out.
April 21, 2010 2:44 PM   Subscribe

WTF is growing out of the floor in my basement? It looks like glossy human hair and it is freaking me out.

I found these today (pic1, pic2, and also a movie of the grossness).

At first I thought they were enormous chunks of animal fur, as if a skunk had gotten into a tussle with my cats. As I got closer I realized they were too big for that and thought, "Bizarre, some metal filings have somehow magnetized and oriented/fluffed into long strands." Then I noticed that they are sprouting from the floor. OMG.

The "base," for lack of a better word, seems elongated and has short, white/grey fluffiness. The long hairs are very glossy and seem tacky when I prod them. Sure enough, there seem to be bits of oily residue on the thing I used to touch it. You can see tiny droplets on some of the other photos.

Maybe a mold or fungus? Maybe some cat poop that is...growing? (My cats get trapped down there every once in a while and there are telltale cat scratches around it.) Maybe something from the recent rains (New England)? Maybe oil mixed with some...entity?
posted by cocoagirl to Science & Nature (18 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
You have mold.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:46 PM on April 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

I vote for mold and mold spores.

either that or somebody spilled some cartoon-grade hair growing formula down there.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 2:47 PM on April 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

It probably smells, hence the cat scratches.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:49 PM on April 21, 2010

That's a type of mold.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:54 PM on April 21, 2010

Best answer: Phycomyces nitens? It grows on cat poop.

Pic 1, 2, 3
posted by naju at 2:55 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ew, ew, ew, I think this thread identifies it.

I'm going to go shower now. For about a day.
posted by cooker girl at 2:57 PM on April 21, 2010 [7 favorites]

Nthing mold, but asking if we couldhave a NSFND (not suitable for near dinner) tag? Nthing yuck! too.
posted by Some1 at 3:29 PM on April 21, 2010

Ew. *Resolving to wash my unfinished basement floor with bleach this summer, two times around the litter boxes*
posted by Kurichina at 3:44 PM on April 21, 2010

Yep, poop fungus. Probably not zombies.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:14 PM on April 21, 2010

I'm not sure what bothers me more, that it's poop fungus or that it's glossy poop fungus.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 5:14 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nature is so amazing and wonderful!

Seriously, this thread (and the threads linked herein) have solved a mystery that I have wondered about as a oft-times-negligent-cat-box-cleaner (with white thready, furry mold - not your variety). So thanks!
posted by jeoc at 5:43 PM on April 21, 2010

That is so incredibly, fundamentally disturbing.
posted by functionequalsform at 5:45 PM on April 21, 2010


But in all seriousness, having dealt with a major (although, frankly, less disgusting) basement-mold issue, there's no "cure" for mold; the spores are everywhere, all the time. All you can do is prevent them from finding the conditions they need to grow.

In this case, keeping the cat out of the basement would be a start. Or if that's not an option, put an actual litter box down there for him/her to use, and then empty it periodically.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:20 PM on April 21, 2010

Response by poster: "I am still convinced that Phycomyces is the most intelligent primitive eukaryote..." Max Delbrück

Thanks everyone, especially naju for the precise name. When Mr. Cocoa heard the word phycomyces, he remembered a story about Max Delbrück, "an amazing physicist who abandoned physics and wasted 25 years studying phycomyces!" Having seen what I saw in the basement, I do not consider those 25 years wasted.
posted by cocoagirl at 6:50 PM on April 21, 2010

Damn nature, you scary.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:46 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, bleach...
But please be careful around the kitties. Make sure to rinse well. Maybe put an inverted laundry basket over the area afterward. (Allow air circulation and keep cats off of it.)
posted by Drasher at 11:50 AM on April 22, 2010

This is the scariest, and somehow also the coolest, thing I've seen in a while.
posted by Ouisch at 11:56 AM on April 23, 2010

Yeah, that mold is really cool!
posted by amery at 2:27 PM on April 24, 2010

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