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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Radical Fungi in L.A.?

After a little bit of research and cross-referencing of images and articles across a wide spectrum of major news outlets, life science publications, and at the university Web site of the original discoverers of a new branch of fungi, it seemed apparent that in the first three (vertical) photos here, Los Angeles was indeed being overtaken by the just discovered new phylum of fungi, and that the publiher of this blog, Republic Of L.A., had probably made the same discovery around the same time, or even earlier, than the researchers in Britain.

A phylum is the biological classification just below kingdom; kingdom is just two steps below the classification known as "life." (In other words, the discovery of this "new" fungi is momentus. The discovery was made in a pond at the University of Exeter in the U.K. by researchers there. It's called Cryptomycota, or hidden fungi, because the entire phylum has gone undetected for eons.

Had Republic Of L.A. found the Phylum First?
Here's what we almost posted:
It's noteworthy that Republic Of L.A.'s lens encountered the subject in the three small photos shown in this post at least three months before the Exeter scientists announced their discovery in the journal "Nature." We're contacting officials at the university's Biology Department with these images to see if they can give a likelihood of whether or not this specimen (shown from three different camera angles) may be a member of the dodgy fungi phylum. The photo was taken because the growth on this tree in Los Feliz just seemed extraordinary. (I heard about the discovery of a new type of fungus on NPR several weeks after taking these pics, then read about it on the same day. I had a hunch that maybe that was the explanation for that somewhat ominous looking beach ball-sized parasite I had s shot with my Droid camera a few months earlier. However, I didn't see any photos of Cryptomycota (aka, Rozellida) until today."
Odd though this fungus appeared in the eyes of this observer, there was a nagging feeling that something was not quite right with the image (bottom of post), purportedly a photograpgh of Cryptomycota, that Huffingtonpost and so many others displayed as an image of the hidden fungus when news of its discovery was announced. That image accompanied so much of the coverage of the the new fungi--online and elsewhere--and it so resembled the thing RoLA captured six months ago, that we wanted to believe our fungus and the image of the fungus others published were both the new fungus. But alas, it became too hard to ignore the nagging and a feeling that this thing was just too big to be a "crypto" anything. Who could miss it?

Not Cryptomycota:

The photo above that has been widely and erroneously presented as an image of Cryptomycota. In fact, the only photo Republic of L.A. could find of the new fungi is of its microscopic cells (click the link embedded in "only" above to see it).

As it turns out, the fungus Republic Of L.A. photographed appears only to be of a common variety known as (drum roll) "Orange Fungus." We still think it's special and weird.

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