Huge Mysterious ‘Alien’ Growth Blocker Toilet Deflector Experts

British plumber Steve Ratcliffe got more than he bargained for when he was called out to replace a clogged toilet in Wales. In the ceramic bowl, he found a giant alien growth that amazed experts.

Ratcliffe said the client lived on a cattle ranch. Rather than relying on a public water utility, the property received water from an underground pump via a borehole.

“The client has had intermittent problems with infiltration and backfill for years…probably due to the age of the system as it is not connected to the main drainage,” Ratcliffe said news week.

Mysterious Alien Toilet Mushroom
A photo shows the mysterious “alien” growth on a farm in Wales.
Steve Ratcliffe/Reddit

“The age of the toilet is unknown, but judging by the overall condition of the house, I’m guessing it’s at least 10 years old,” he said.

Ratcliffe posted photos of the “Alien” growth on the subreddit r/TerrifyingAsF***. It has garnered thousands of positive votes and hundreds of comments speculating about what it could be.

“It’s just some crazy fungus that found a super ideal place to grow…dark, wet, maybe a bit anaerobic and a food source,” said one user.

Others suggested it could be a biofilm, a collection of microbial cells held together by an extracellular coating.

To get to the bottom of the riddle, news week asked several experts what they think the odd lump might be.

“It’s very, very difficult to identify something like that from an image,” said Angel Medina Vaya, professor of applied mycology at the University of Cranfield. “Fungi thrive in environments with organic matter and high humidity. Therefore, a toilet that hasn’t been flushed for a long time might be the best place.

“Fungi are incredible organisms, capable of growing in the most extreme conditions where no plants or bacteria could survive, and you seem to have a very good example here,” Vaya said.

Shaggy scale fungus
An archive image shows shaggy scale mushrooms. Fungi are organisms that can survive in extreme environments.
Julija Kumpinovica/Getty

Hans-Curt Flemming, professor emeritus at the University of Duisburg-Essen and an expert on biofilms, said the sinister slime could actually be a biofilm. “The phenomenon is most likely a fungus, not an alien. That’s it [likely] a biofilm formed mainly by fungi but also colonized by bacteria.

“Fungi in toilet flush systems are not isolated, but they are rarely reported. Who is looking down their drainpipes and doing a scientific investigation?” said Fleming.

Fortunately, he didn’t think the growth posed a significant health risk. “Because it sits in the drainage system, it doesn’t pose a health hazard. It’s not toxic, but consumption is not recommended.”

Emma Thompson, chief executive of the British Mycological Society, said that from this image alone it was impossible to tell if the growth was actually a living organism. She suggested it could be something non-organic, such as B. degraded sealant.

This suggestion was repeated in many comments on Reddit. “It’s more like the wax seal that’s applied when toilets are installed,” said one user. “It’s almost certainly not a fungus.”

However, after seeing the growth firsthand, Ratcliffe was certain it wasn’t simply an old pipe. “I took that thing out, and I’ve been in the business for years, and this is a first for me,” he said. “I say with absolute conviction, it’s not wax.”

Whatever it is, it has left some Reddit users horrified. “Whoever owns this toilet needs an exorcism,” said one user.

Have an animal or natural story you’d like to share with Newsweek? Have a question about a mystery growth? Let us know at nature@newsweek.com.

https://www.newsweek.com/newsweek-com-giant-mystery-alien-growth-blocking-toilet-bafffles-experts-1759428 Huge Mysterious ‘Alien’ Growth Blocker Toilet Deflector Experts

Rick Schindler

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