Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrKJAojmB1Y
Meet the genus Pilobolus! The Cannon Fungi
These fungi are in the phylum Zygomycota. The Zygomycota make up ~1% of fungi.Their life cycle begins as a small dark colored object which contains spores (seen here on the top of each of these stalks), usually found on plant matter. The plant matter is then consumed by an herbivore (plant eater). The herbivore passes the spores through its digestive system until the spores are embedded in dung when excreted from the animal.
These spores then germinate and grow throughout the dung, eventually forming a sporangium (dark colored bit) on top of a little bubble looking structure on a long stem (seen in video).
And builds until....
BOOM! Isn't that amazing?! (I'm assuming you just watched the video. If you couldn't see the video, imagine a dark spot rocketing off of the club like stem)
It has been estimated that an equivalent would be launching a human at a hundred times the speed of sound!
The fungus must do this so that the sporangium will get far enough away that it might hit a plant that an animal might eat. Animals typically don't like to eat near their dung!!
So this sporangium gets blasted high into the air (up to 2 meters!) and perhaps lands on a nearby plant, where it gets eaten once again and the cycle continues!
Fungi are Awesome.
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