|Image: key lime pie yumyum via Flickr|
Above his knees and up to his waist is a thick mass of brown fur, matted, clumped and variously tinged with red and black. Above the waist his leathery skin is a sickly, almost celebratory orange. His eyes are completely black, but surrounded by a painful red as if irritated by the acidic fumes.
"You? You wish to fight for your freedom?"
You stare up at him, unable to speak.
"Are you ready for the Red Cage?"
|Image: amadej2008 via Flickr|
This fungus has an assortment of names; the Red Cage, Latticed Stinkhorn and Basket Stinkhorn. In some parts of Europe its name translates to Witch's Heart. In France it's called Coeur de Sorcière, Sorceror's Heart.
All very mystical! Aside from the Stinkhorn stuff. The Red Cage is indeed in the Stinkhorn family. It stinks. Mainly of rot and death.
|Image: scott.zona via Flickr|
Lots and lots of flies.
This is how they get their microscopic spores spread all over the place. Originally it was all in Europe, but they've since been introduced to just about every continent on Earth. It's like they wanted to be absolutely sure that this was a demon-haunted world.
The spore produces a mycelium, which is like a big bundle of roots for feeding on decaying, woody, plant stuff.
|Image: Gencer Emiroglu|
The young stinker continues to grow and tear out of the confines of the egg, the remnants of which is known as the volva.
|Image: Tomás Mazón via Flickr|
The Red Cage will eventually reach anywhere between 8 and 20 cm (3.1 and 7.9 in) tall and could be pink, orange or red. It finally collapses just 24 hours after emerging from the egg. Then it rots away. For real, this time.
|Image: Juaninda (Juan Sevilla) via Flickr|
I'm simple. I just call it Monstrous!