The Fungi from Yith?

Very interesting “mollusk-like” interpretation of the Great Race (by Nathan Rosario)

Before moving on to other subjects such as the technology of the Great Race, the nature of Yithians, Flying Polyps and other matters, I want to wrap up my discussions on the biology of the cone-shaped beings (CSBs).  As previously noted, the CSBs are of Terran origin and have been on Earth for at least a billion years.  We have compared the general morphology of the CSBs to two classes of mollusks: the gastropods and cephalopods but have concluded, base on their age as a species, that they more than likely do not originate from either class of mollusk.

Early in Peaslee’s efforts to recount some lost, ancient memories he begins to remember the surroundings and environment.  Several times in addition to mentioning cycads, fern-like growths and conifers, he notes “fungi of inconceivable size, outlines and colours, speckled the scene in patterns bespeaking some unknown but well-established horticultural tradition.”  Thus, in addition to being populated by large, now extinct and largely unknown species of fungi, these organisms appeared to be cultivated in some manner.

Based on some additional text in HPL’s The Shadow Out of Time, the CSBs represented no known surviving or extinct species, at least known to man.  They were “of a peculiar, closely homogeneous, and highly specialized organic type inclining as much as to the vegetable as to the animal state.”  This is important since up until this point we have assumed that the CSBs are members of the Animal Kingdom – but are they?

Yithian Scribe by Richard Svensson

The Elder Things are truly of alien origin; they evolved on another world from an echinoderm-like ancestor (at least in body form).  However, the Elder Things were said to have traits of both animals and plants.  In particular HPL specifically compared many of their biological traits of the Elder Things to those of ferns (e.g. having a prothallus, spores similar to those of ferns) but this is not the case with the CSBs.

A number of traits of the CSBs suggest that they do not belong to the animal or plant Kingdom and can not even be considered some type of hybrid of the two.  For example, HPL states that:  “Nourishment, assimilated through the red trumpet-like appendages on one of the flexible limbs, was always semifluid and in many aspects wholly unlike the food of existing animals.”  Animals do not feed in this manner – but fungi do.

The Kingdom of Fungi (www.docstoccdn.com)

Plants are photosynthetic and animals ingest food particles (plants or other animals) but fungi feed by exuding exoenzymes  into the surrouinding environment, breaking down organic matter (typically dead organic matter) and then absorbing this “semifluid” material.  Thus, fungi are decomposers – breaking down dead organic material and using it as food.  This mode of feeding is typically called saprotrophy (David C. Sigee; Freshwater Microbiology, 2005).  Other non-fungal organisms have a similar mode of obtaining energy through decomposition (Sigee, 2005); some of these organisms include bacteria (the actinomycetes or actinobacteria) and some protists (such as slime molds, chytrids and oomycotes).

While all of the organisms described above have a saprotrophic mode of feeding, only the fungi are multi-cellular and complex, with a high degree of cellular differentiation.  Thus, the fungi have the highest “potential” to eventually develop into a large, complex organism.  In fact, some of the largest organisms on Earth are fungi – for example, in 2003 USFS in Oregon identified a fungus, Armillaria ostoyae, that covers an area of 2,384 acres, forming a symbiotic relationship with the resident tree roots.  Thus, fungi have the potential to be extremely large.

HPL mentioned that the CSBs reproduce through spores, but does not use any of the fern-like terminology used for the Elder Things.  In addition, the CSBs are said to reproduce through spores, as do fungi, but have no sexual reproduction.  It is possible that the CSBs are members of the Deuteromycota, which is a phylum of fungi that is not a natural grouping.  This fungal group is a “hodgepodge” grouping that have the common trait of generally lacking the structures required for typical sexual reproduction (Lynn Margulis and Karlene V. Schwartz, Five Kingdoms: An Illustrated Guide to the Phyla of Life on Earth, 1982.  Are the CSBs a unique, complex and highly specialized form of Deuteromycota fungi?  The fungal fossial record is exteremely spare but fungi are estimated to have initially appeared in the fossil record at least 900 million year ago, so this is a viable hypothesis that could be tested by conducting some DNA / RNA comparisons between CSB and Deuteromycote fungal cells.

Deuteromycota fungi producing asexual spores, called conidia (archive.bio.ed.ac.uk)

The next article will focus on the technology of the Great Race.  Thank you – Fred.

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8 thoughts on “The Fungi from Yith?

  1. Great way to wrap up one of the most fascinating discussions on this site! I hadn’t thought that they could be fungi! Nice job, and I look forward to the Yithian technology discussion!

    BRIAN

    1. Hey Mike – makes sense to me! While Superman may not be using the same type of specific pigment (chlorophyll a) to collect the photon energy the way plants do (which would explain why he does not look green), it makes sense that he would be using some type of similar photosystem and “alien pigment” to collect the sun’s rays. If his body does not produce the pigment on its own, maybe he has an alien symbiotic organism in his skin does. Maybe Superman is sort of an alien “super lichen-like” symbiont! Intriguing idea Mike! Thank you for reading the page! Fred

  2. I will offer a different opinion of the potential origin of the Great Race. They could have an origin within the some of the Ediacaran fauna or perhaps some basal hemicordate but with a little research we might could pen it down a bit more. We know that had primarily Gondwana distribution so that does narrow things a bit.

    1. Hey Jonathan:

      That is certainly a possibility and very interesting notion. None of these hypotheses have yet been tested. Reviewing the latest set of data, I hypothesize that the Great Race many not even be in the Animal Kingdom but may be a highly evolved form of fungi. However, only by collecting fossil, morphological and (perhaps?) cellular / genetic data and comparing such data to other living or extinct life on Earth can one hypothesis gain acceptance over the others.

      Thank you for the comment!

      Fred

  3. I have some research to do on this now. I will have you a well thought take on it in a couple of weeks (going back to grad school lets me access journals and books online from home for free) to give you a few potential lines of development. I would discard the fungal origin because of the development of appendages and the possession of a chitinous? body covering. They have a number of characters that could lead you toward some basal arthropods but I do not think that is the best choice.

    1. Thanks Jonathan – we have such little data that there at least four hypotheses that consider the origins of the CSBs. Given how old the CSBs are relative to other forms of life, they may require their own phylum. I look forward to any additional information you can provide on this subject. Thanks again – Fred.

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