PastelFlamingo150: And that’s where coal comes from
I_are_facepalm: Imagine the wildfires in that oxygen rich environment…
diiejso: This confuses me. Were there massive piles of trees growing on top of dead trees? What did the ground look like at this point?
ld2gj: The first generation of fungi had to be fat AF near the end, 40 million years of wood just waiting to be eaten.
EDIT: For everyone doing the fire would have destroyed it, fossilization, etc stuff about the wood…it was a joke. I made a funny about it all.
acmemetal: Reminds me of when I learned that at one point there was practically no oxygen on earth, and when it arrived it caused a mass extinction of most living things here.
alternativerationale: Much like today’s plastics
GoldenSpikes: “Hah! Finally got you, you son of a bitch!” – 40 Million Year Old Fungus
hundenkattenglassen: Didn’t those trees also cause one of the six mass extinction events?
Remember seeing a GIF a while ago presenting the six events, one of them was basically the whole Earth on fire and IIRC some redditor mentioned pretty much this.
Pretty mind blowing fact now that we take rotten wood for granted.
joseph66hole: Could you imagine being the first tree to catch the fungus. This is why protection is important. Remember when you pollinate with a tree you are pollinating every tree it’s been with.
NegativeMagenta: “figured out” means mutated luckily.
Wykuda: Wasn’t there just a TIL on this a couple days ago
AColdBruceky: Does this mean if I keep littering then plastic will become biodegradable?/s
satanicpuppy: Lignin. It’s an organic polymer, and it took nature a while to figure it out. Basically the same as plastic, with the same end-game. Nature’s fucking clever.
The method decomposers use to break down lignin requires a bunch of O2…Plants fucking *hate* O2, but they needed some high energy shit to break down that wood, so they fucking used it…They actually used so much of it, and so much of it (even now) is bound up in decomposition, that that pretty much ended the age of macrofauna. Just not enough free oxygen in the air anymore to support a Brontosaurus (and don’t fuck with me…[Brontosaurus is *back*, baby](https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-brontosaurus-is-back1/))
herbw: That’s an interesting article but it ignored the thermodynamics of what’s going on here. & that’s a critical issue. Cellulose cannot easily be digested either, esp., by ungulates, which require a vast pot of protozoans and bacteria to digest the cellulose down. Even termites do it with the same symbiotic kind of stew.
We humans can’t do it either. And then there is chitin, which was first created around the time of the Burgess shales in the Cambrian, and by which means, that chitin is hard to break down, being least energy molecules made up of polymeric parts.
The same it largely true of keratin and collagen, altho not digestible by humans, microbes and some animals can digest that. The recent discovery of 100 megayrs. old collagen in dinosaur partly fossilized bone marrow shows us that incredible thermodynamics stability, created by least energy.
least energy is the resason lignin, cellulose, and chitin, plus bone and shells are not easily broken down. That creates their stability, and their survivability as fossils as well. Which is no any simple or minor effects.
Least energy rules in our world. And the indigestibility of those & cellulose, are what makes our world a much stabler, interesting place. Takes a LOT of activating energy to digest such molecules, which is why they are so very stable. As our vast coal deposits world wide also show.
Among many other least energy articles:
MedRogue: So can we get a fungus to biodegrade plastic?? 😐
Fungi have been our bros all along, and we didn’t even kno.
Ima stop eatin mushrooms in honor of our lil bros
weatherseed: I hate these articles and this TIL because it is wrong.
Fungus was a little bit behind but bacteria had already evolved the enzymes needed to break down lignin and suberin. The reason we have coal deposits and petrified wood isn’t because nothing was around to eat the fallen trees but because of chemistry and geology. You have to look at *where* those coal formations are to understand why they formed there.
The answer is wetlands, swamps, bogs, etc. A tree would fall and become buried under a layer of acidic mud. As more trees fell in they would create pressure on the layers underneath in an acidic and anaerobic environment.
This is why we only see those deposits in certain areas instead of under every bit of dry land. The bacteria and, later, fungi were doing what they do best.