This disgusting-looking 'thing' was found under a rock, on some decaying wood in Grantsville, says Steve Allison.

Some ideas indicate it might be a fungus.

"There are some fungus that attack insect grubs (along the line of the monster in the Alien movies) and the results can be really grotesque," says forester Russ Richardson.

"One other option is that it looks like a dormant bloodroot, root," Richardson concluded.

Readers, Heath Weaver and Ron Jones appear to have correctly identified, "the thing," as a stinkhorn mushroom.

According to Wikipedia - The Phallaceae, or stinkhorns, are a family of basidiomycetes which produce a foul-scented, phallus-shaped mushroom. They belong to the order Phallales.

Their method of reproduction is different than most mushrooms, which use the air to spread their spores. Stinkhorns instead produce a sticky spore mass on their tip which has an odor of carrion, dung, or other things that attract flies.

The flies land on the stinkhorn and in doing so collect the spore mass on their legs and carry it to other locations.

Elegant stinkhorn, Mutinus elegans, immature stinkhorns
beside the mature one - Photo courtesy of wikipedia.org