New stinkhorn fungus discovered on African island

Phallus drewesiiFrom the California Academy of Sciences in the USA:

New species of phallus-shaped mushroom named after California Academy of Sciences scientist

Dr. Robert Drewes calls the naming of Phallus drewesii, discovered on the African island of Sao Tome, a ‘wonderful honor’

SAN FRANCISCO (June 15, 2009) – It’s two inches long, grows on wood, and is shaped like a phallus. A new species of stinkhorn mushroom, Phallus drewesii, has been discovered on the African island of Sao Tome and graces the upcoming cover of the journal Mycologia. The mushroom is named after Robert Drewes, Curator of Herpetology at the California Academy of Sciences, and is described in the July/August issue by Professor Dennis Desjardin and Brian Perry of San Francisco State University.

Phallus drewesii belongs to a group of mushrooms known as stinkhorns which give off a foul, rotting meat odor. There are 28 other species of Phallus fungi worldwide, but this particular species is notable for its small size, white net-like stem, and brown spore-covered head. It is also the only Phallus species to curve downward instead of upward.

“The mushroom emerges from an egg and elongates over four hours,” says Desjardin, who is also a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences. “Its odor attracts flies who consume the spores and disperse them throughout the forest.”

Desjardin and Perry named the new species after Drewes as an acknowledgment of his “inspiration and fortitude to initiate, coordinate and lead multiorganism biotic surveys on Sao Tome and Principe,” according to the Mycologia paper.

“It’s a wonderful honor and great fun to have this phallus-shaped fungus named after me,” says Drewes. “I have been immortalized in the scientific record.”

Phallus drewesii is not the first species to bear Drewes’ name. A small moss frog native to South Africa (Arthroleptella drewesii) and a blind worm snake from Kenya (Leptotyphlops drewesi) were described in 1994 and 1996, respectively.

Fungus living on ants: here.

Infection by the so-called zombie ant fungus dramatically changes the behaviour of tropical of carpenter ants causing them to die at a spot that has optimal reproduction conditions for the fungus, a new study has found. The multinational research team studied ants living high up in the rainforest canopy in Thailand: here.

Reports from BirdLife Species Guardians on São Tomé – a small island nation in the Gulf of Guinea – indicate that hunting is increasing and includes the Critically Endangered Dwarf Olive Ibis Bostrychia bocagei. A group of hunters were found with more than 90 São Tomé Green Pigeons Treron sanctithomae and at least one Dwarf Olive Ibis on 26 April 2011: here.

3 thoughts on “New stinkhorn fungus discovered on African island

  1. Out of Africa

    The islands of Sao Tome and Principe, located in the Gulf of Guinea off Africa’s west coast, host a number of plants, fungi, mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians found nowhere else on Earth. Since 2001, the Academy has embarked on several multidisciplinary expeditions to the islands in an effort to document their biodiversity and raise conservation awareness. A new species of gecko found only on Principe, Hemidactylus principensis, was described this year by Academy scientist Bob Drewes and his colleagues. For a long time, it was considered the same species as Hemidactylus greeffi from Sao Tome, but morphological and molecular work has resolved them as two distinct species, endemic to their respective islands. “This gecko is just one more example of the amazing degree of endemism on Sao Tome and Principe,” said Drewes. “Habitat destruction is a growing threat to the species on these islands, and we want to make sure the nation’s residents know what they have to lose before they make decisions that will impact their rich biological resources.”

    On the other side of Africa, a frog collected in 1930 and deposited in a museum collection finally received recognition as a new species. Arthroleptis kutogundua was described by Academy scientist David Blackburn from a single specimen collected from the Ngozi volcanic crater in southwest Tanzania. It is unknown whether the species still exists in this remote region.


  2. Pingback: Saving São Tomé and Príncipe birds | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: São Tomé and Príncipe new wildlife discoveries | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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