Scientists believe that certain fossils are evidence that giant mushrooms, referred to as Prototaxites, covered the Earth before trees and other land plants became commonplace. It is thought that 420 to 350 million years ago, there were fungi that grew to heights of 24 feet (7.3 m), while any of the few newly evolved trees were no more than about 3 feet (0.9 m) tall. The first Prototaxite fossils were discovered in Canada in 1859, but it wasn’t until about 2007 that it became accepted that the fossils were from giant fungi. Prior to that, there were theories that the fossil was a plant or lichen, or a type of combination of algae and fungus that grows on rocks.
More about fungi:
- One of the world’s biggest organisms is a fungus in Oregon that spreads out over 2,200 acres (880 hectares).
- Researchers estimate that there may be more than 5 million species of fungi in the world.
- Truffles, fungi that grow underground, are considered a delicacy in many countries and were often dug up by female pigs because the fungi smell like male pig pheromones.