Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

When giant mushrooms ruled the Earth….

with 7 comments

Life was simpler in 400,000,000 BC…

I’m going to take a break from controversial subjects and post some nice innocuous science and cat blogs. The state of the world is way too depressing lately and I need to recharge my batteries before wading back into the fray. On the plus side, posting about controversial subjects is driving my blog traffic up, I’m getting two hundred hits a day. Yes, I might be pissing off and offending a thousand people or more a week now. Who knew the Internet could be so satisfying? I’m also hoping that maybe I’m encouraging one or two people to think occasionally, God knows writing this blog has forced me to re-examine many of my beliefs.

So moving right along, Prototaxites! A topic so exciting that a Google search reveals almost 800 links! (Yes, I’m being facetious, Michael Jackson’s gall bladder has more web sites devoted to it.) What the hell is a Prototaxite? Good question! It’s a six metre tall stalk of something that existed in great numbers on land some 350 million to 420 million years ago. Was it a conifer tree? A tall algae colony? Giant mushrooms? Lichen gone wild? Scientists have been arguing about these mystery fossils for a century.

Well, the mystery appears to have solved, or so is scientist Francis Heuber’s well researched claim. Prototaxites (remind me to blog about scientists and their lame names sometimes, Prototaxite sounds like some sort of male inflammatory disease) appear to have been giant fungi. It was quite an era. Forests of giant fungi. Small primitive plants, in fact the early plants didn’t even have roots or leaves. A landscape littered with living rootless plant stems, it sure would have made weeding the yard easy. As for how a stemless, rootless plant reproduced, beats me.

The seas were teaming with life then. Giant armour-plated, bone-crushing fish and huge man eating water scorpions. Wading was not recommended. On land however there were just millipedes, bugs, and primitive wingless insects. There have always been insects, it’s one of their many superpowers. More on that later. For now I am imagining slices of Prototaxite frying in butter, like big Chanterelle steaks. Hmm, tasty. I wonder if there is a Chanterelle crop in the hills this spring? I’ll check that out later this morning.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, it is central to illustrating the post, and if giant fungi ruling the earth isn’t an historically important image…I don’t know what is. Illustration credit: Elsevier/Hueber.)


Written by unitedcats

April 25, 2007 at 8:04 am

Posted in Science

7 Responses

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  1. Fungi are somewhat intermediate between plants and animals, their eukaryotic structure is more similar to animals.


    April 25, 2007 at 1:01 pm

  2. How could there be man-eating water scorpions when there were only millipedes, bugs, and primitive wingless insects around? Or were the men living in the water, too?

    (Furthermore, what’s the technical difference between a bug and a primitive wingless insect?)


    April 25, 2007 at 4:59 pm

  3. I was kidding around, there most certainly were no people 400,000,000 million years ago. And the fish and water scorpions didn’t actually coexist either, I was just using poetic license to illustrate that the seas were teaming with life while there were just a few small arthropods on the land. I can’t even find the article that mentioned bugs and primitive insects, a bug is a type of insect so I guess it’s not very accurate. Thanks for holding my feet to the fire, I’ll try to to take such liberty with the facts next time, or at least be clearer when I am taking poetic license. —Doug


    April 25, 2007 at 8:34 pm

  4. Actually, I was kidding around, too, although you don’t know me, so I suppose there’s no way you’d know that either. Perhaps I should have inserted some smileys.


    April 27, 2007 at 6:28 am

  5. Oh, OK. Yes, sometimes humorous and/or facetious comments don’t register in print. Thanks for dropping by. :) (That was sincere.)


    April 27, 2007 at 8:16 am

    • anyone who has read this article cares more about history than any social teacher ive ever met and if this is was the preached at school id still be in it.


      December 25, 2011 at 8:28 pm

  6. Actually arachnids predate insects. They blatantly have many more superpowers.


    December 4, 2013 at 11:25 am

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