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Nature

The Fastest Accelerating Organism on Earth is a Fungus!

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Lisa Winter

Guest Author

clockFeb 11 2014, 19:49 UTC
306 The Fastest Accelerating Organism on Earth is a Fungus!
BBC

Earth has many organisms that are incredibly quick. In the sky, the peregrine falcon speeds past every other bird by reaching a maximum airspeed of 389 km/h (242 mph). The cheetah dominates on the land and can run up to 120 km/h (75 mph) and the sailfish can escape predators in the sea by traveling 109 km/h (68 mph). As impressive as these are, they are still no match for Pilobolus crystallinus; otherwise known as the Hat Thrower or Dung Cannon fungus.

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As the latter common name might suggest, this is a fungus that lives on feces that blasts away its spores into the wind. The spores land on grass and other low-lying vegetation where they are ingested by animals. The fungus is able to survive the trip through the animal’s digestive system without harming its host. After it is excreted out, the fungi prepares the spore capsules to fire again, bringing the spores away from the dung and into the path of a hungry grazer.

Because the spores are so small, they require a lot of force to cut through the air and get to a place where they will be eaten by animals. Grazing animals don’t like to eat where they poop (and who does, really?) so they need to travel pretty far. In order to travel 2 m (6 ft) to a clear area, they accelerate over 70 km/h (45 mph) within the first MILLIMETRE of their flight.

Check out the slow motion footage of these insanely fast spores:

 

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Nature
  • fungus,

  • life cycle,

  • acceleration

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