Mysterious red growth under fire hydrant baffles Aussies: 'Disgusted but fascinated'

What appears to be a living organism is rapidly overtaking a hydrant, puzzling experts.

A red mass that's grown on a fire hydrant in Brisbane's central business district over the space of five months has perplexed residents, along with some of Australia's best and brightest minds. A Reddit user posted photographs of the strange growth, which a friend first noticed in October.

"There used to be a big rock, about 20cm tall under that hydrant. About a year ago, the hydrant started leaking. We tried turning it off ourselves but couldn't. We contacted the landlords and the city council but no one came to turn it off," the friend was quoted as saying.

Hydrant growth
This strange red growth has some of Australia's best scientists scratching their heads. Source: Reddit/ieatjellyb42

"Eventually the fungus on the rock grew until it reached inside the hydrant... then someone took the rock away and it was all gone," the friend said, adding that a new growth appeared on the ground a week or two later as the leak continued. "That was when I started taking photos of it, knowing it would grow again."

The growth started out flat, then grew into a mound that can be seen creeping up the fire hydrant over time, turning from red to a rusty shade with slimy bits of black and green covering it. The photos were shared in several sub-Reddits, gaining the interest of thousands of intrigued users.

Out of this world?

Guesses as to what the growth could be are swirling the internet, with some saying it might be a fungus, while others suggested it could be some type of moss, and yet others joked that it looks like something out of a science fiction movie.

"Is that the red weed from War of the Worlds?" someone asked. "Is this how 'The Last of Us" starts? That's cordyceps!" another commented, while a third chimed: "I'm disgusted but simultaneously fascinated... I feel the need to poke it with a very long stick." Responding to that quip, the original poster replied, "It might crawl up the long stick and onto your fingers."

Hydrant growth
The mysterious growth now looks to be supporting a whole ecosystem. Source: Reddit/ieatjellyb42

In an attempt to identify the peculiar growth, Yahoo News Australia approached several industry experts including the Australian Aquatic Biodiversity Research and Consultancy, Queensland Museum, Australian National Herbarium, Queensland Herbarium, CSIRO, as well as individual plant and pest specialists in the country. However, none have been able to confirm what the growth is and will not be able to, at least until a sample is sent to them for further investigation.

A Yahoo News source revealed a sample may be on its way to the Queensland Herbarium for examination, which will hopefully lead to some clear answers for everyone. In the meantime, the original poster uploaded new photos of the mysterious blob, showing that it is now covered in a slimy green growth and what appears to be aphids and a ladybug.

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