August 31, 2002

Terrestrial Echinoderms

Image copyright Fred First

I am feeling fungal. Look out for 'shrooms pictures in the coming weeks, if we can only get some badly needed moisture in the ground. Those little spores are just lying down there waiting for a bath so they can, well, pop up like mushrooms on a wet lawn.

Meet the Earth Star fungus, Geaster. Looks a little bit like a starfish, don't you think?

Once, many years ago (notice how many of my little fables start in just this way?) I was hiking in some new place with some new friends. We happened upon a group of the Earthstars like you see here....quite a colony of them, and they looked as if they were preparing to march down to the creek at any minute. My friend, Jean, was amazed, having never seen anything like this before.

"What are they, Fred?"

And in my most professorial and authoritative voice, I said "These are quite rare. They are terrestrial Echinoderms: relatives of the starfish that have left their aquatic environment and become tolerant of land conditions. They remain dormant for many years in the moist soil of a very few remote locations. These have matured and will be heading down to the creek, where some will succeed in mating, sending their small spawn downstream, eventually to the sea." Or some such malarky. I used to be very good at spontaneous biological BS.

Jean was such a smart gal. After I heard that she had repeated my fairy tale to other students at the college, I confessed that I was full of Shitake and these were really mushrooms. I don't think she ever believed a word I said after that. And you probably won't either. Right?

Posted by fred1st at August 31, 2002 07:51 AM
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