Saturday, October 18, 2008

Another act for the Circus McGurkus?

Surprises in nature? Let's say you are a microscopic fungus growing on dung -- cow pats, say. To propagate your species you must have your spores ingested by other cows, and thus into other cow pats. But most grazing animals won't feed near their excrement. So you gotta distribute your spores at some distance from your pat. Relying on a breeze might do it, but why not evolve your own spore disperser -- a powerful squirt gun.

That's just what fungi of the species Pilobolus kleinii have done. Go here to see high-speed flicks of the fun -- microscopic fungi squirting their spores a distance of two meters at speeds of 25 meters per second, the fastest flights in nature. The movies were made by mycologist Nik Money and colleagues.

This way! Step right in! Ladies and gents!
My Side Show starts here in the first of my tents
With the Fungal Cannonball, Pilobolus Kleinii,
Who as everyone knows is smaller than teenie
And faster than lightning. Just look at him zoop!
As he flings himself far from his patty of poop.