Science Art: Phallus drewesii, by Brian Perry.

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There’s been a bit of news recently about the discovery of a large number of glowing mushroom species in various corners of the world. This image is not one of those glowing mushrooms, gorgeous as they are after dark. It’s another, unrelated species that happened to be discovered by the same research team, led by Dr. Dennis Desjardin of San Francisco State.

This is a stinkhorn mushroom from the African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe. Unlike most stinkhorns, it’s rather small, and it’s the only member of its genus, Phallus, known to bend downward. Stinkhorns, like some kinds of succulent flowers and other plants, trick flies into helping them reproduce by emitting the foul odor of rotting meat. The flies land, looking for a snack, then take off, carrying spores or pollen with them.

Of course, if you were to find a new Phallus that happened to be a/ tiny, b/ unusually flaccid and c/ crawling with flies, of course you’d name it after one of your colleagues. Ho ho! Which is just what Desjardin did this July.

It does have a certain minuscule beauty, doesn’t it? More amusing is a picture of the perfectly normally proportioned herpetologist Dr. Drewes holding his namesake fungus. And a little bit down this page, you can see the photographer himself holding a larger penis… mushroom.

Image by Brian Perry, California Academy of Sciences.

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