The mushrooms were almost 24 feet tall and three feet wide and dotted the ancient landscape.
Terrestrial plants were comparatively new, 420-35 million years ago and the largest of the trees stood only several feet high compared to the giant spires that raised its head from the Earth’s surface.
National Geographic in 2007 said that these old organisms had trunks as long as 24 feet or 8 meters and were quite wide, around 3 feet or 1 meter, approximately.
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Scientists from Saudi Arabia dug up some fossils and discovered what this massive creature was, and was thought to be a fungus.
The apparent fungi would have stuck out like a sore thumb against the barren landscape as stated by New Scientist back in 2007.
“A 6-meter fungus would be odd enough in the modern world, but at least we are used to trees quite a bit bigger,” says Boyce. “Plants at that time were a few feet tall, invertebrate animals were small, and there were no terrestrial vertebrates. ”
Fossils Of This Giant Mushroom Has Astonished The Entire Science Community
Fossils of Prototaxites were first discovered by a Canadian in 1859 and since then had astonished the paleontological discoveries of the last one and a half-century.
Even though scientists had discovered the fossils, none could fathom what these giant mushrooms were in reality.
The University of Chicago stated that the debate raged for the coming 130 years. Some researchers called it a fungus, others called it a lichen, while the rest held on to the fact that it indeed was a tree.
“The problem is that when you look up close at the anatomy, it’s evocative of a lot of different things, but it’s diagnostic of nothing,” says Boyce, an associate professor in geophysical sciences and the Committee on Evolutionary Biology. “And it’s so damn big that when whenever someone says its something, everyone else’s hackles get up: ‘How could you have a lichen 20 feet tall?’”
All of these proposals were trashed in 2007. A study concluded that these giant spires were from the fungus family and it was basically a gigantic ancient mushroom.
All of the scientists were not on board with these findings and did not believe that Prototaxites were fungi. No one questioned the existence of these spires but they were struggling to imagine how this humongous structure could indeed be a mushroom.
Scientists who were trying to disagree with this notion thought that the fungus spires were basically massive layers of rolled up liverworts.
Another follow-up study made the scientists [the ones who proposed that it was fungi] press on their claims.
Science and paleontology are quite messy and we still do not know surely what these massive structures were in reality.
You should not feel bad for the family of fungi and mushrooms as ABC has stated that the largest being on Earth is a massive fungal layer. It is a single being that spreads over 2,200 acres in a forest in the eastern parts of Oregon.
Image credit: University of Chicago