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Mystery prehistoric fossil verified as giant fungus

Scientists have identified the Godzilla of fungi – a giant, . . . . fossil that has evaded classification for more than a century.

A chemical analysis has shown that the 6-metre-tall organism with a tree-like trunk was a fungus . . . . . .Known as Prototaxites, the giant fungus has intrigued scientists, who originally thought it was a conifer. In 2001, Francis Hueber at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC, US, first suggested it may be a fungus, based on an analysis of the fossil’s internal structure. But he had no conclusive proof.

“No matter what argument you put forth, people say it’s crazy,” says C. Kevin Boyce, a geophysicist at the University of Chicago in Illinois, US. “A 6-metre-fungus doesn’t make any sense, but here’s the fossil.”

Boyce, who says Prototaxites “get his vote for being one of the weirdest organisms that ever lived”, helped solve the mystery by comparing the types of carbon found in the giant fossil with plants . . .

16:40 24 April 2007 by Catherine Brahic New Scientist Environment

by Greater Ancestors World Museum on Sunday, June 5, 2011 at 10:10am