I read about a fairly new species of fungus that was discovered in Malaysia in 2011.
Looks like this:
It looks a bit like how I would imagine a shriveled, dehydrated brain would appear! But that’s not what caught my attention. What I found strange was the name of this new fungus, because it sounds very similar to popular cartoon, Spongebob Squarepants.
Had to read up on it!
Ok, so the Spongiforma Squarepantsii is a species of fungus in the Boletaceae family. As you can see, it’s orange and it is made of a rubbery sponge-like material. Wiki calls it a ‘fruit body’ that contains a ‘fruity, musky odour’.
Interesting part! The name of the Spongiforma fungus is actually derived from the cartoon Spongebob Squarepants. The reason for this is that when the fungus is viewed with a scanning electron microscopy, it resembles the seafloor that is home to Spongebob. The name was actually rejected by editors of the Mycologia because they thought that the name was a joke, but the discoverers of the fungus insisted that they could name it whatever they wanted.
With that in mind, there are obviously some points of clarification to be made. A scanning electron microscope is basically a type of electron microscope that images a sample by scanning it with a beam of electrons. The publication ‘Mycologia’ is a peer-reviewed scientific journal that publishes papers specifically related to fungi, including lichens. Basically a mushroom magazine.
Anyway, back to the Spongiforma Squarepantsii (SS). The descriptions I have read are very comprehensive, and boring. So I shall try to condense it as much as possible for you and I’ll put any jargon in parentheses.
The SS is pretty small, around the 1/3 the size of an iPhone. It also doesn’t have a stalk (stipe). Instead of a stalk, it has a cord (columella) of sterile tissue that leads to the core of the fruit body. As I said earlier, the fungus resembles a brain and I believe that if water is squeezed out, it will resume it’s original shape!
This was a very interesting topic to research, definitely memorable!
Hope you enjoyed it as much I did =)