The Humongous Fungus Weighing in at 440 Tons!


Valued Senior Member

This Humongous Fungus Is as Massive as Three Blue Whales:
A new estimate suggests this mushroom is 2,500 Years Old and Weighs 440 tons:

The blue whale gets a lot of ink for the being the largest animal to ever live, beating out even the biggest dinosaurs. But it turns out the largest organisms on Earth aren’t in the oceans, they are beneath our feet. By weight and area, honey mushrooms in the genus Armillaria beat whales many times over. Now, reports Matthew Taub at Atlas Obscura, a new analysis of the original “humongous fungus” in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula shows the massive mushroom is much bigger and much older than researchers first believed.

About 25 years ago, researchers discovered that an Armillaria gallica mushroom near Crystal Falls, Michigan, covered about 91 acres, weighed 110 tons and was about 1,500 years old, setting a new record for the largest organism at the time. For a new study published on the preprint service bioRxiv, James Anderson, a biologist at the University of Toronto and one of the original discoverers of the fungus, returned to the site and took 245 samples from the mushroom and examined its genome. The team confirmed that indeed, the entire fungus is just one individual.

The DNA also showed a very slow mutation rate, meaning that the honey mushroom isn’t evolving very quickly. The visit also led them to revise the fungus’s age to 2,500 years and determine that it is four times as massive as the original estimate, or about 440 tons, the equivalent of three blue whales.
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Random Thoughts triggered by the above:

When I was growing up (a process never properly completed) fungi were classified as plants. Now they are in an intermediate position, less than an animal, more than a plant. Or, from the perspective of an oak tree, less than a plant, more than an animal.

Occassionally I envisage a planet on which all life exists as a single, planet spanning organism. If any of you decide to write an SF story based on that premise go ahead. Just send me a copy please. (I mistyped copy as coypu. Feel free to send me one of those also.)

Getting back to fungi, I need to read up on the features that distinguish fungi from plants and animals.

Some of you may be familiar with the Mushroom of Principal of management. At one time I worked for a company that followed it. They kept us in the dark and periodically dumped shit on us.