Photo: Towering Mystery Fossil Was a 'Shroom With a View



Giant stalks of Prototaxites rise above the landscape in an artist's rendition of Earth 420 million to 370 million years ago (top).

New research on the mystery fossil, like this sample found in Saudi Arabia (bottom), backs up earlier theories that Prototaxites was a massive fungus that stood up to 24 feet (8 meters) tall.

Illustration by Mary Parrish, National Museum of Natural History; photograph reprinted from Review of Paleobotany and Palynology, Vol. 116, "Rotted wood--alga--fungus: the history and life of Prototaxites Dawson 1959," by Francis Hueber, p. 146, Smithsonian Institution, Copyright 2001, with permission from Elsevier


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