ADVERTISEMENT

Fungus Cowboys

The oldest known carnivorous fungus, unearthed in 100-million-year-old amber, apparently lassoed its worm prey with sticky loops. Modern carnivorous fungi are armed with constricting rings and other projections they use to trap prey, but scientists had been unsure of when these snares evolved. Amber from what once was a coastal tropical forest in southwestern France revealed fossilized fungi with their nematode quarry. The carnivores possessed branched filaments adorned with small rings plastered with tiny particles, suggesting that the rings were sticky. Several of the worms were located near rings, and their width roughly matchesthat of the loops, hinting that the nematodes served as prey. Once ensnared, the worms were devoured with infestation filaments, speculate scientists from Humboldt University of Berlin and elsewhere. The scientists suggest that carnivory in fungi is ancient in origin. Digest more in the December 14, 2007, Science.

or subscribe to access other articles from the February 2008 publication.
Digital Issue $7.99
Digital Issue + All Access Subscription $99.99 Subscribe
Share this Article:

Comments

You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.

EVERY ISSUE
EVERY YEAR
1845-PRESENT

Get All-Access Digital + Print >

X

Email this Article

X