Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Because I am having a dull day at work, Jessica sent me the following email:

"since you are bored, would you mind explaining to me the evolutionary rationale for poisonous mushrooms co-opting the looks of edible ones? thanks."

I am much to lazy to really look into this, however I have some thoughts.

1. Perhaps the non-poisonous mushrooms evolved into the poisonous ones, and since they were so very poisonous, animals learned to identify them by smell, or some other sense that humans are not aware of. So the now-extremely-poisonous mushrooms never had any reason to change their appearance.

2. Some poisonous mushrooms are red with white spots. They will kill you in a second if you so much as look at them sideways. There were a lot of them growing near my parents house (the one that burned down last summer), and I was terrified of them as a child, as though they might sneak up on me and rub themselves all over my hands or leap into my mouth before I could swat them away.

3. Perhaps it is biologically beneficial for the mushrooms to trick animals into partially eating them, so that the animals lay down right there and die and rot, thereby fertilizing the mushrooms?

If you are in possession of any information that might help clear this up, please let us know.


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