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.