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Science & Technology

Earth was once covered in giant mushrooms

By T.K. Randall
March 22, 2017 · Comment icon 9 comments

Huge towers of fungus would have dominated the landscape. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 wonderferret
Back when the tallest trees were only a few feet high, huge towers of fungus grew in excess of 8 meters.
The terrestrial landscape was very different 400 million years ago - so much so in fact that, rather than plants and trees, this prehistoric era was dominated by Prototaxites - tall spire-like structures that scientists have been struggling to understand since their discovery back in 1859.

These days it is generally believed that these peculiar spires were actually giant mushrooms.
"A 6-meter fungus would be odd enough in the modern world, but at least we are used to trees quite a bit bigger," said geophysicist C. Kevin Boyce of the University of Chicago in Illinois. "Plants at that time were a few feet tall, invertebrate animals were small, and there were no terrestrial vertebrates."

"This fossil would have been all the more striking in such a diminutive landscape."

Source: Smithsonian Magazine | Comments (9)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by paperdyer 6 years ago
Another mystery and debate.  If these were giant mushrooms, what changed to make them into the size we have today? This theory just keeps generating more questions.
Comment icon #2 Posted by EBE Hybrid 6 years ago
I'm fairly sure I once read that animal life evolved from fungus
Comment icon #3 Posted by DragonFire22 6 years ago
Super Mario is REAL!
Comment icon #4 Posted by godnodog 6 years ago
mmm can some1 tell me if they hadn?t been consuming psychedelic mushrooms?? eheheheh
Comment icon #5 Posted by LabotomusRex 6 years ago
There has been conclusive evidence presented by individuals suffering from cluster headaches which I believe are considered incurable that periodic use of magick mushrooms cured the headaches,maybe that's a natural primitive response to a organism (mushrooms) that were once a larger part of the ecosystem maybe at the time of human development.
Comment icon #6 Posted by LabotomusRex 6 years ago
Oh yeah and theres this guy that never did drugs because he hates them that suffered from cluster headaches but now he's cured,he's on YouTube or was.   He said that he hates the trip from magic mushrooms but he does them once every couple of months so that he won't have the headaches.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Farmer77 6 years ago
Theres also some very exciting research regarding mushrooms (psilocybin) being effective therapy for depression , anxiety and other mental issues.  Makes sense when I was a kid I referred to LSD trips as "soul showers" I would feel so good and clear headed after a trip it was insane. 
Comment icon #8 Posted by LabotomusRex 6 years ago
Lol,I had a few also as a kid and they really were therapeutic.
Comment icon #9 Posted by MWoo7 6 years ago
Yeah back in Mario's day , the best of times, zoomshrrroooooms galore!That's why there was no need for fire yet! 

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