Fungi are fascinating. People have utilized them in many ways throughout history, from carrying fire to cooking. The ancient Egyptians considered fungi “the fruit of life.” Our knowledge of mushrooms has only increased over time—we’ve found out a lot about fungi through the years. So what are some fun mushroom facts you likely don’t know? Read on to find out!
Fungi Are Similar to Human Beings
Scientists initially thought that fungi were plants. Now we know that the DNA of fungi is closer to that of the inhabitants of the animal kingdom. There are only a few small differences in our DNA structure, such as the factors that create the variations in eye, skin, and hair color.
Even their processes are somewhat similar to ours. Unlike flowers, which absorb nutrients through photosynthesis, fungi absorb nutrients from organic matter as animals do. And like animals, they also have chitin, a fibrous substance, in their cell walls. They also use their hyphae to absorb nutrients, water, and oxygen from their environment and expel waste and CO2, much like the breathing process in human beings.
They Have a Language
Mushrooms communicate in electrical spikes, akin to human communication. They send electrical signals to each other through their hyphae. The spikes occur in clusters, just like in human speech. It’s said that mushrooms have a vocabulary of up to 50 words. We’re still discovering the contents of this lexicon, but scientists are hopeful that, one day, we’ll be able to decipher the language.
They Are 80 Percent of Our Earth
You’re likely standing on top of mushrooms right now. It turns out that fungi stretch over 70 to 80 percent of the earth. The body of a mushroom, called its mycelium, makes up the primary body and mass of the mushroom. It’s what we grow our mushroom substrate on to encourage healthy growth. This mycelium spreads across the length of the planet. Even though you can’t see it, it’s still there, underground. This is one of the top mushroom facts that people often don’t know.
We’ve made many interesting discoveries about fungi over time. The facts above are just the tip of the iceberg, but they’re excellent jumping-off points for learning more. The topic is fascinating, so have fun diving in!