7 facts about giant mushrooms that grew on prehistoric Earth
About 420 million years ago, the largest objects on Earth were not trees or even animals. In the Paleozoic era, strange organisms dominated the land, which are known in the scientific community as prototaxites.
They looked like elongated cones about 8 meters high, and invertebrate creatures built houses inside them. Judging by the fossilized remains, algae grew on the surface of these mysterious objects.
For many years, scientists could not attribute prototaxites to either trees or animals. But then they found evidence that these are huge mushrooms. In this article, we invite you to learn more about these prehistoric giants.
You will see that several thousand years ago our planet looked like the scenery of science fiction films.
Giant mushrooms of antiquity were considered trees
For the first time, the fossilized remains of prototaxites were found in 1843, during the exploration of coal deposits in the Canadian province of Quebec. For some time, the mysterious objects were kept in the museum, and only in 1859 they were studied by the Scottish botanist John Dawson.
At first, he viewed the remains as the long-term ancestors of conifers. He described these formations as smooth trunks without branches, with individual particles of mushroom mycelium sprouting in them.
Fossilized footprint of a giant mushroom
For many years the fossils were thought to be rotten wood, but then William Carruthers suggested that prototaxites were ancient algae. After him, Briton Arthur Church (Arthur Church) suggested that scientists are dealing with fungi, but his scientific work was ignored and the scientific community continued to consider prototaxites as aquatic plants.
And only at the beginning of the 21st century, the botanist Francis Hueber convinced everyone that they were dealing with mushrooms. While studying the fossils through a microscope, scientists found thalli in them – the so-called bodies that make up some algae and fungi.
Ancient mushrooms have annual rings
While studying the fossils of giant mushrooms, scientists discovered that stripes are visible on their cut – they look like annual tree rings ( mentioned in this article ), by which you can find out their age.
However, unlike the rings on wood, they are often fused together in prototaxites. It was during their study that scientists discovered long and branching tubular cell structures, almost the same as those of mushroom mycelium. It is impossible to find out the age of ancient mushrooms from these rings.
In ancient times, mushrooms were the size of a house
Based on the fossils, the giant prototaxite mushrooms could stand up to 8 meters tall. At the same time, their average diameter was 1.3 meters. They are often depicted as long, smooth-surfaced cones that grow near water.
This must be how they grew, because scientists have reason to think that prototaxite fungi have something in common with algae.
Huge mushrooms of antiquity may be relatives of algae
There is a hypothesis that prototaxites are not pure fungi – perhaps they are a hybrid of algae and fungi. In 2010, a group of scientists led by Linda Graham suggested that the cone-shaped formations arose as a result of twisting the mycelium of fungi, cyanobacteria and plants under the influence of wind. This is a very interesting hypothesis that may turn out to be true.
Tall mushrooms dominated the Earth
Whatever the giant prototaxites are, in the Paleozoic era they dominated our planet. In those days, plants already existed, but they were no more than half a meter high, covered wet lowlands and did not have a vascular system.
Thus, the giant prototaxites were taller and more powerful than them, thanks to which they spread a branching semblance of mycelium underground and sucked in nutrient organic matter.
Perhaps prototaxites are a hybrid of algae and fungi.
Ancient mushrooms gave rise to complex life forms
Scientists believe that if it were not for the giant prototaxites, the current plants and animals would not exist in the world. Over the years, prototaxites have released substances into the environment to soften the soil – it is believed that over time they could even break down rocks.
Thanks to this long, but important process for the history of the Earth, vascular plants arose on our planet. And after that, complex species of organisms appeared on it.
Giant mushrooms disappeared due to plants
However, by helping the plants grow, the ancient mushrooms have dug their own grave. They dominated the Earth for about 70 million years, but then disappeared. One version says that the mushrooms were eaten by animals – they liked them so much that they could not recover.
According to another version, giant mushrooms lost the battle for water, food and space – the plants were stronger than them.
Mushrooms also exist today, but they are not as big as they used to be. But they still play a very important role – some scientists believe that they can save us from many diseases.
The Dark and Mysterious History of Yosemite’s Tenaya Canyon
Tenaya Canyon is a trail-less and treacherous part of Yosemite
National Park that runs from Tenaya Lake down to Yosemite Valley. It is
known as the “Bermuda Triangle of Yosemite” because of the many
accidents, injuries and deaths that have occurred there over the years.
people even believe that the canyon is cursed by the spirits of the
original inhabitants of Yosemite, who were violently displaced by the
Mariposa Indian War in the 1850s.
The canyon is a challenging and
risky route for adventurous hikers and climbers, who have to navigate
smooth granite slabs, steep rappels, mandatory swims and precarious
ledges. The canyon also offers stunning views of waterfalls, swimming
holes and rock formations.
However, the park officials warn that
“a trip into the unforgiving terrain of Tenaya Canyon…should not be
taken lightly.” There is a sign at the entrance of the canyon that
reads: “TRAVEL BEYOND THIS POINT IS DANGEROUS.”
of the most famous incidents in Tenaya Canyon happened in 1918, when
John Muir, the “Father of the National Parks,” fell and was knocked
unconscious while exploring the canyon.
He later wrote: “I was
suddenly brought to a standstill by a blow on the head that confused my
senses for a moment or two without wholly stunning me.” He managed to
recover and continue his journey, but he never returned to the canyon.
Yosemite National Park, Mariposa County, CA
“Tenaya Canyon is one of those places where you can feel history all
around you,” said Scott Gediman, a park ranger at Yosemite National
Park. “It’s a very powerful place.”
Another notable explorer of
Tenaya Canyon was Ron Kauk, a legendary climber who lived in Yosemite
for decades and scaled some of its most challenging walls.
He camped on the side of a rock face in Tenaya Canyon and felt a mysterious force pulling on his sleeping bag.
He told SFGATE:
“It was like something that came around in a teasing kind of way or
something. It wasn’t anything too dramatic, no lights flashing around or
flying by you. Just to acknowledge that there was something else
He speculated that the canyon might be “the holding place for the original spirit of the place and the people (of Yosemite).”
Canyon is named after Chief Tenaya, the leader of the Ahwahneechee
tribe that lived in Yosemite Valley before they were driven out by the
Mariposa Battalion, a group of armed volunteers sent by California’s
governor to subdue the Native Americans in the area.
battalion captured Chief Tenaya and his people and forced them to
relocate to a reservation near Fresno. However, some of them escaped and
returned to Yosemite Valley, where they were attacked again by the
Chief Tenaya’s son was killed in the battle, and he
reportedly cursed his enemies and his homeland before fleeing into
Tenaya Canyon. He was later killed by a rival tribe near Mono Lake.
historians and locals believe that Chief Tenaya’s curse still lingers
in Tenaya Canyon, causing misfortune and tragedy for those who enter it.
Others think that the canyon is simply a dangerous place that requires
caution and respect.
Tenaya Canyon has had more than 110 people
killed there and many more injured. It is known to the Park Service as
the Bermuda Triangle of Yosemite.
of people go missing at national parks across the United States every
year. Some of these disappearances are never solved. Yosemite National
Park holds the notorious position as the national park with the third
most missing persons per year (233).
Either way, Tenaya Canyon
remains one of Yosemite’s most fascinating and mysterious places, where
nature’s beauty and history’s brutality collide.
Vatican investigates potential miracle at Connecticut church
The Catholic Church is reportedly investigating a potential miracle that occurred at a church in Connecticut, reports independent.co.uk.
The supposed miracle took place at St Thomas Church in Thomaston, Connecticut, according to the Hartford Courant.
Revered Joseph Crowley, who heads St Maximilian Kolbe Parish, which
includes St Thomas Church, reported that the wafers distributed during
the observation of communion multiplied while sitting inside the
“God duplicated himself in the ciborium,” Rev Crowley
said after communion, referencing the metal storage containers used to
house the communion wafers. “God provides and it’s strange how God does
that. And that happened.”
response, the Archdiocese of Hartford began an investigation to
determine whether or not a miracle had occurred at the church.
then, the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of Faith, a group dating
back to the 1500’s tasked with promoting and defending the Catholic
faith throughout the world, has been notified and has begun its own
A spokesman for the archdiocese, David Elliott,
issued a statement to the Hartford Courant saying that “reports such as
the alleged miracle in Thomaston require referral to the Dicastery for
the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. The Archdiocese has proceeded
accordingly, and will await a response in due time.”
an important part of the process of becoming a saint within the Catholic
Church. Sainthood considerations typically begin five years after the
death of an exceptional Catholic.
number of criteria must be met, including “verified miracles” — Vatican
officials must determine that the miracles are a direct result of an
individual praying to the candidate saint. They must come to the
decision that the miracle was a result of the dead potential saint
interceding between the petitioner and God, causing the miracle.
Catholic Church defines a miracle as a “sign of wonder such as a
healing, or control of nature, which can only be attributed to divine
While duplicating thin bread wafers may seem like a minor
use of divine power to those unfamiliar with Catholic theology, the
Eucharist — often called communion or the lord’s supper — is arguably
the holiest and most important sacrament — or ritual — in the faith.
typically believe in the idea of transubstantiation, or the idea that
the bread and wine given during the ritual literally become the body and
blood of Jesus Christ upon consecration, as opposed to simply symbols
of his presence.
O’Neil, who goes by the moniker Miracle Hunter, authored a book called
Science and the Miraculous: How the Church Investigates the
Supernatural, spoke to the Hartford Courant and gave examples of
previous eucharistic miracles.
“There are various types of
eucharistic miracles, but the ones that are most remarkable, in my
opinion, were on some rare occasions, the host is said to bleed human
blood,” he said.
Reverend Michael McGivney, the founder of the
Knights of Columbus, ended his clerical career at St Thomas, where the
alleged communion miracle took place. He has been in consideration for
sainthood and requires one more verified miracle before he moves on to
final consideration for sainthood within the Catholic Church.
Leonard Blair explained to the Hartford Courant that “what has been
reported to have occurred at our parish church in Thomaston, of which
Blessed Michael McGivney was once pastor, if verified, would constitute a
sign or wonder that can only be attributed to divine power to
strengthen our faith in the daily miracle of the Most Holy Eucharist.
would also be a source of blessing from Heaven for the effort that the
US Bishops are making to renew and deepen the faith and practice of our
Catholic people with regard to this great Sacrament.”
“Blessed” is a title given to saint candidates who have had “verified” miracles attributed to them by the Vatican.
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