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That baffling 20-foot fossil is . . . fungus

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Scientists have identified the Godzilla of fungi, a giant prehistoric fossil that evaded classification for more than a century, U.S. researchers reported Monday in the journal Geology.

A chemical analysis has shown that the 20-foot-tall organism with a tree-like trunk was a Prototaxites that became extinct more than 350 million years ago. The giant originally was thought to be a conifer, or a lichen, or algae. “A 20-foot fungus doesn’t make any sense,” said geophysicist C. Kevin Boyce of the University of Chicago. “But here’s the fossil.”


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