1664: "Mycology"

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1664: "Mycology"

Postby grkvlt » Wed Apr 06, 2016 12:28 pm UTC

Image

Title Text: "Conspiracy theory: There's no such thing as corn. Those fields you see are just the stalks of a fungus that's controlling our brains to make us want to spread it.."

It turns out the earth's entire ecosystem is controlled by a space-fungus trying to spread itself to other solar systems.
Last edited by grkvlt on Fri Apr 15, 2016 1:43 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby Mikeski » Wed Apr 06, 2016 12:36 pm UTC

There's something to that "corn" theory. What else could explain us using millions of gallons of gasoline in farm equipment, in order to grow corn, in order to make the corn into millions of gallons of gasoline?

(And now the children of the corn will come to get me. If I don't post anything else after thi

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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby six8nate » Wed Apr 06, 2016 12:41 pm UTC

See also:
"Two Kilograms and Counting"
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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby Locoluis » Wed Apr 06, 2016 12:45 pm UTC

Saccharomyces spp. 8-)

... who am I kidding. Too obvious.
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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby Michael.K » Wed Apr 06, 2016 1:16 pm UTC

That title text is almost identical to the plot of Zombicorns by John Green, available for free download here: http://effyeahnerdfighters.com/post/2835409604/didnt-get-your-chance-to-get-your-hands-on-john

Ignore the cover. The book has nothing to do with unicorns.

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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby rmsgrey » Wed Apr 06, 2016 1:38 pm UTC

The fungus is a scapegoat - it's actually the corn itself that's behind it all.

Actually, being delicious and easily farmed is an extremely good survival strategy nowadays...

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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby grkvlt » Wed Apr 06, 2016 1:39 pm UTC

I expect this comic was inspired by the various Zombie-Ant Fungus species, with their disturbingly fascinating propagation mechanism. One of them is Ophiocordyceps unilateralis which causes infected ants to find a nice leaf and bite onto its underside until they die; the fungus then sprouts out of the ant's head, and grows the fruiting body that spreads its spores.

zombie-ant-fungus-fruit.jpg
zombie-ant-fungus-fruit.jpg (30.95 KiB) Viewed 7191 times


There is also a Zombie-Ant Parasite Dicrocoelium dendriticum with an even more bizarre life-cycle: It goes through multiple hosts, starting with snails that eat cow dung and then get infected by the parasite's larvae, which then drill through the wall of the snails stomach to its digestive tract, where they continue to grow. The snail will enclose the juvenile parasites in cysts, which it then excretes. Ants will follows the snail's slime trail to find food, and will eat the cysts which contain hundreds of juvenile lancet flukes. They then drift through the ants body and mostly mature, but one of the flukes finds its way to the cluster of nerve cells underneath the esophagus. It is able to control the ant by manipulating these nerves. In the evening when it is cooler, an infected ant will be made to leave the colony and find a tall blade of grass, which it climbs and clamps onto the top with its mandibles, staying there until morning. During the day, it returns to the colony and behaves normally. It does this every night until eventually a cow eats the grass (and the ant, and the juvenile parasite flukes) and it becomes infected. The parasite then grows inside the cow to its adult form as a worm and lays eggs, which will be excreted and then eaten by snails...!

dicrocoelium-lifecycle.png


It's completely insane that this lifecycle of cow -> snail -> ant -> cow -> etc. managed to evolve at all, complete with the weird intermediate zombie-ant-mind-control stage...! But, it is awesome, in a creepy, worm larva parasite infection type of way.
Last edited by grkvlt on Wed Apr 06, 2016 1:50 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby ThemePark » Wed Apr 06, 2016 1:40 pm UTC

And that, children, is how the Zombie Apocalypse started.
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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby Soupspoon » Wed Apr 06, 2016 1:42 pm UTC

Mikeski wrote:There's something to that "corn" theory. What else could explain us using millions of gallons of gasoline in farm equipment, in order to grow corn, in order to make the corn into millions of gallons of gasoline?

There's an argument that the daffodil (amongst other plants) has successfully found an ecological niche where "looks pretty to humans" is the evolutionary test that they are successfully winning at... (See also the panda, whose decline due to humans is likely in the process of being reversed due to humans, whilst something like a slug would not.)

And I'm minded of a significant part of the plot of Hothouse, by Brain Aldiss, as well as another couple of novels that I can't remember (because the fungus is stopping me from doing so!?!) that ascribe the entirety of human 'intelligence' to the fact that whilst our core 'animal brains' are ours, the rest of the structure is as the result of an inoculating fungus working in semi-symbiotic/semi-parasitic mode within our systems, ever since the dawn of true sapience...

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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby Echo244 » Wed Apr 06, 2016 1:48 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:The fungus is a scapegoat - it's actually the corn itself that's behind it all.

Actually, being delicious and easily farmed is an extremely good survival strategy nowadays...


So we should hope we have carnivorous alien overlords instead of robot overlords...?

ThemePark wrote:And that, children, is how the Zombie Apocalypse started.


I'll be disappointed if it is. I mean, too much of it will be just Nature, rather than some Mad Scientist trying to meddle with Nature...
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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby Mikeski » Wed Apr 06, 2016 1:53 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:Actually, being delicious and easily farmed is an extremely good survival strategy nowadays...


Indeed. By weight, deliciousness even out-Darwins human-level intelligence.

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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby Murderbot » Wed Apr 06, 2016 1:58 pm UTC

Tobacco is a parasite that controls people's brains with nicotine, making them want to grow it or pay others to do so.

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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby grkvlt » Wed Apr 06, 2016 2:09 pm UTC

Murderbot wrote:Tobacco is a parasite that controls people's brains with nicotine, making them want to grow it or pay others to do so.


Couldn't you say that about any sweet-tasting fruit as well, really? They taste good, therefore they encourage you to eat them, and (if animal) excrete the seeds elsewhere or (if human) plant more seeds somewhere, thus creating more of said fruit, eventually. In fact, I'm surprised our Granny-Smith-Apple-Tree-Overlords have waited so long without taking over the world yet?
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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby Neil_Boekend » Wed Apr 06, 2016 2:17 pm UTC

Same with cows, pigs and chickens. Their tastiness has become an evolutionary advantage.
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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby Echo244 » Wed Apr 06, 2016 2:31 pm UTC

Neil_Boekend wrote:Same with cows, pigs and chickens. Their tastiness has become an evolutionary advantage.


Hmmmm. Within the species? Cheap, quick-growing individuals probably have an advantage over the more delicious ones, while still needing to pass a minimum taste-test.
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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby Soupspoon » Wed Apr 06, 2016 2:47 pm UTC

grkvlt wrote:
Murderbot wrote:Tobacco is a parasite that controls people's brains with nicotine, making them want to grow it or pay others to do so.


Couldn't you say that about any sweet-tasting fruit as well, really? They taste good, therefore they encourage you to eat them, and (if animal) excrete the seeds elsewhere or (if human) plant more seeds somewhere, thus creating more of said fruit, eventually. In fact, I'm surprised our Granny-Smith-Apple-Tree-Overlords have waited so long without taking over the world yet?

Many an isolated apple-tree has grown (out of many many opportunities to do so, of course), just off to one side from a track by which ramblers regularly pass and (at least on one occasion) have stopped at this impromptu picnic spot, eaten an apple and tossed the core into the undergrowth (hopefully without other more permanent and manufactured materials).

Meanwhile, tomato plants tend to work in the more traditional way. They can be found growing in and around sewage treatment works... The hardy seeds pass through the system (both human and human-constructed) until finding themselves ripe for germination in a rich 'soil', somewhere near the end of the process. Although (so far as I'm aware) such successor plants aren't themselves too commonly harvested for further human consumption, so direct evolution towards such specifically anthropogenic distribution has not yet been actively selected for, and it just goes to show how well 'engineered' the natural world is. (Or perhaps how poorly-engineered our own mechanised sanitising systems have been?)

At the other end of the spectrum1: the bananananananana, or however you stop spelling it. All Hail our yellow-skinned, and much cloned, overlord! (At least until the big banana-killing blight takes hold across his monocultured multinational kingdom and drives him to the edge of extinction...)

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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby Neil_Boekend » Wed Apr 06, 2016 3:35 pm UTC

Echo244 wrote:
Neil_Boekend wrote:Same with cows, pigs and chickens. Their tastiness has become an evolutionary advantage.


Hmmmm. Within the species? Cheap, quick-growing individuals probably have an advantage over the more delicious ones, while still needing to pass a minimum taste-test.

Species level. The taste of cows over the taste of molerats (I assume they taste bad) gives the cows an evolutionary advantage. There are many more cows than molerats.
Further, within the species the double muscle feature (caused by a malfunctioning myostatin gene according to wikipedia) gives an advantage.
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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby freezeblade » Wed Apr 06, 2016 4:25 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:Many an isolated apple-tree has grown (out of many many opportunities to do so, of course), just off to one side from a track by which ramblers regularly pass and (at least on one occasion) have stopped at this impromptu picnic spot, eaten an apple and tossed the core into the undergrowth (hopefully without other more permanent and manufactured materials).
Said apple might not be very tasty though, as apples are not true to seed. The genetic variation of apples is quite wide, and most factors don't create good eating apples. close to 99% of apples you'll ever eat in your lifetime are cloned (grafted or air-layered).

Soupspoon wrote:Meanwhile, tomato plants tend to work in the more traditional way. They can be found growing in and around sewage treatment works... The hardy seeds pass through the system (both human and human-constructed) until finding themselves ripe for germination in a rich 'soil', somewhere near the end of the process. Although (so far as I'm aware) such successor plants aren't themselves too commonly harvested for further human consumption, so direct evolution towards such specifically anthropogenic distribution has not yet been actively selected for, and it just goes to show how well 'engineered' the natural world is. (Or perhaps how poorly-engineered our own mechanised sanitising systems have been?)


For those that compost, tomatoes end up sprouting in the fertilizer created very often, I sometimes save them, and plant them elsewhere in the garden. (3 this year so far) Most of the tomatoes that are eaten fresh at my house are heirloom, so they're true to seed (non-hybrids unlike 'roma' or similar).

Another that comes up in compost bins very often is avocados, however this is very close to their evolved distribution system, which was to be eaten whole by a large land animal, pass through the digestive tract, then sprout in the resulting fertilizer.
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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby bara » Wed Apr 06, 2016 7:31 pm UTC

Mikeski wrote:There's something to that "corn" theory.

One word: Huitlacoche

And it's delicious (says the infected person)

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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Wed Apr 06, 2016 8:12 pm UTC

There's a brain amoeba humans get from cats. They have been shown to affect human behavior.
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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby da Doctah » Wed Apr 06, 2016 9:00 pm UTC

Something I've been wondering about ever since they decided there were five kingdoms instead of just two. Should the term "vegetarian" properly apply to someone who eats only plants, or to someone who does not eat meat? If etymology is to be any help here, a true vegetarian should also avoid mushrooms, bread and beer.

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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed Apr 06, 2016 9:02 pm UTC

Okay, it's funny now, but I wish you wouldn't wave things like that around in front of people in this forum. We have a statistically aberrant concentration of dictionary pedants here.

grkvlt wrote:I expect this comic was inspired by the various Zombie-Ant Fungus species, with their disturbingly fascinating propagation mechanism. One of them is Ophiocordyceps unilateralis which causes infected ants to find a nice leaf and bite onto its underside until they die; the fungus then sprouts out of the ant's head, and grows the fruiting body that spreads its spores.


Quizatzhaderac wrote:There's a brain amoeba humans get from cats. They have been shown to affect human behavior.


I can't help think that the other half of this joke is how frequently mycology articles end up Featured on Wikipedia. There is a lot of mycology on Wikipedia.
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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby ThemePark » Wed Apr 06, 2016 9:27 pm UTC

Quizatzhaderac wrote:There's a brain amoeba humans get from cats. They have been shown to affect human behavior.

Well, of course. That's how they get us to be their willing slaves and do their every bidding. And how they got the Egyptians to worship them.
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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Wed Apr 06, 2016 9:33 pm UTC

da Doctah wrote:Should the term "vegetarian" properly apply...
Creating a new definition of "vegetable" doesn't retroactively change words derived from the old definition of vegetable.
If etymology is to be any help here...
Nope! Etymology just tells us these concepts are kinda sorta involved somehow.
Copper Bezel wrote: We have a statistically aberrant concentration of dictionary pedants here.
Define "of"
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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby rmsgrey » Wed Apr 06, 2016 9:51 pm UTC

Quizatzhaderac wrote:
da Doctah wrote:Should the term "vegetarian" properly apply...
Creating a new definition of "vegetable" doesn't retroactively change words derived from the old definition of vegetable.
If etymology is to be any help here...
Nope! Etymology just tells us these concepts are kinda sorta involved somehow.
Copper Bezel wrote: We have a statistically aberrant concentration of dictionary pedants here.
Define "of"

Define "define".

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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Wed Apr 06, 2016 10:01 pm UTC

To make more coarse or undo a process of enfining.
The thing about recursion problems is that they tend to contain other recursion problems.

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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby jewish_scientist » Wed Apr 06, 2016 11:05 pm UTC

[quote="http://w3.marietta.edu/~biol/biomes/symbiosis.htm"]All relationships between organisms range over a continuum from obligate (where one or both organisms would die without the other) to facultative (where the presence/absence of the other isn't really necessary). Obligate relationships - such as a human tapeworm in our gut - are considered "tight", while facultative ones - a squirrel living in a tree - are considered "loose". Some ecologists place the 3 types of relationships first, that is there are parasitic, commensalistic, and mutualistic relationships, and only the obligate ones in any of these 3 categories are called symbioses.[/quote]

As this video points out, pandas are taking a our resources and may become only survival in captivity. At the same time, they are very cute. Therefor, by every definition of the words, pandas and humans are mutualistic and symbiotic. Cows, chickens, and cats are the same, except the first 2 also use tastiness in order to supplement their cuteness

Copper Bezel wrote:I can't help think that the other half of this joke is how frequently mycology articles end up Featured on Wikipedia. There is a lot of mycology on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia writers are all mycology controlled zombies. They are raising awareness of their awesomeness via the Mere-Exposer Effect. Then when they are endangered by something, humans will be more likely to intervene.
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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby Coyoty » Wed Apr 06, 2016 11:44 pm UTC

Most of corn's genome isn't corn's. Corn is just a vehicle for the propagation of the passenger DNA, which has the structure of a separate organism and contributes nothing to corn's biology.

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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby chridd » Wed Apr 06, 2016 11:56 pm UTC

da Doctah wrote:Something I've been wondering about ever since they decided there were five kingdoms instead of just two. Should the term "vegetarian" properly apply to someone who eats only plants, or to someone who does not eat meat? If etymology is to be any help here, a true vegetarian should also avoid mushrooms, bread and beer.
...but does the root word that "vegetarian" derives from mean "member of the kingdom Plantae" or does it mean whatever was considered a plant in the old model (or something else)?

ThemePark wrote:
Quizatzhaderac wrote:There's a brain amoeba humans get from cats. They have been shown to affect human behavior.

Well, of course. That's how they get us to be their willing slaves and do their every bidding. And how they got the Egyptians to worship them.
No, we have other ways of doi—
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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby keithl » Thu Apr 07, 2016 1:09 am UTC

Some species may undergo Darwinian selection for scientific novelty and journal paper popularity. Species whose behavior results in highly cited papers lead to increased funding and more lab space devoted to the progeny of those lab organisms.

We may think we are studying the behavior of lab animals, but instead we are studying the behavior of paper reviewers and grant agency administrators, to whom those animals (and the researchers who care for them) adapt by selection. If lab animals do not adapt and remain uninteresting, the researchers fail to get funded, the lab is shut down, and the animals are euthanized. Extreme selection pressure!

Eventually, experimental animals may develop their own equivalent of scientific journals, describing novel ways to develop and behave, attract researchers and funding, and increase lab populations. Perhaps they will develop dotted lines on their hides to aid the researchers who flay them; while that isn't good for a particular individual, it will increase the overall reproductive success of dotted line genes.

Some species of fungi reproduce more quickly than lab animals, so indeed our scientists may eventually breed species that bypass the slow publication process and directly affect researcher behavior.

Software, which reproduces even faster than fungi, has already evolved to affect programmer behavior. Otherwise, how can we explain Gnome 3 and Windows 10?

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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Apr 07, 2016 1:21 am UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:There is a lot of mycology on Wikipedia.
I don't know if that's true or not, but I could imagine it.

I've occasionally been a rapid-fire hitter of the "Random Article" link, just to see what sort of subjects I keep getting directed to.

At one point, it seemed to be most common to get a location (usually a stub, often of obscure regions in semi-obscure countries, or else of actual places such as small villages or minor peaks), making me think that someone had been busy going through sets of mapping geodata and converting everything with a discoverable 'real name' to the appropriate Wiki page).

Another time it seemed to have changed so that every other article was of a sportsman (throughout history, throughout the world and across sports, but rarely anyone I would ever have expected to have previously heard about, with a (not?) surprising numbers of minor-hitters in various regional baseball leagues, etc, who only ever played twice for the Powercable Pluggers in the Nebraska Amateur Reserves League/whatever in the 1909-10 season), again looking like someone had been OCRing a back-catalogue of sports almanacs or something...

There are a lot of fungus species/sub-species/etc, and I wouldn't be surprised if some public domain dataset of them had not been pushed and pulled into some Wiki-compatible record form by some enterprising souls... Not that I think it's a bad thing to have so much 'useless' data, as (so long as it doesn't break the spirit of Wikipedia's fight against contextless "lists of lists") it may not always be so useless.

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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Apr 07, 2016 1:35 am UTC

Oh, totally agreed. 80/20 rule is strong with any such index.

Otherwise, how can we explain Gnome 3 and Windows 10?

I dunno, Windows 10 has that weird effect of phenotypical reversion to basal Windows 7 characteristics, while I assume Gnome 3 is entirely mimicry of the far more poisonous iOS.
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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby dtilque » Thu Apr 07, 2016 2:51 am UTC

I suppose the comic is as good an explanation for lawns as we're likely to get.
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Postby Eternal Density » Thu Apr 07, 2016 2:58 am UTC

Reminds me of a discussion I had about whether vegans should use plastics since they're made from oil which is made of animals. But there are plastics made from plant matter (such as corn!) so those are okay. (Just don't use animal-based fertilizers on your corn!)

Also, iZombie is a great show.
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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby da Doctah » Thu Apr 07, 2016 3:33 am UTC

Strictly speaking, animals are also made from plant matter if you go back far enough.

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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Apr 07, 2016 9:17 am UTC

da Doctah wrote:Strictly speaking, animals are also made from plant matter if you go back far enough.
And plants are also made of animal matter (at some point/by some proportion in the mix, assuming no quite arbitrary line-drawing), even where that wasn't artificially-provided bonemeal...

A true vegan should find a (vegan) way to go to space with the equipment to create their plants from scratch by using feedstock materials (assuming the required genome/proteome data can be considered 'vegan-friendly'!) from an asteroid and... hope that there's no complicating presence of panspermia!

You know what, let's just draw lines. (And then condemn as loonies/cruel those that go too far/too short in their line-drawing. ;) )

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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby sotanaht » Thu Apr 07, 2016 10:34 am UTC

Neil_Boekend wrote:
Echo244 wrote:
Neil_Boekend wrote:Same with cows, pigs and chickens. Their tastiness has become an evolutionary advantage.


Hmmmm. Within the species? Cheap, quick-growing individuals probably have an advantage over the more delicious ones, while still needing to pass a minimum taste-test.

Species level. The taste of cows over the taste of molerats (I assume they taste bad) gives the cows an evolutionary advantage. There are many more cows than molerats.
Further, within the species the double muscle feature (caused by a malfunctioning myostatin gene according to wikipedia) gives an advantage.


No, that assumption is the advantage. It's less about how something tastes and more about how people think it would taste. Even if molerat tasted amazing you would have difficulty convincing people to try it.

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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby Neil_Boekend » Thu Apr 07, 2016 10:39 am UTC

sotanaht wrote:
Neil_Boekend wrote:
Echo244 wrote:
Neil_Boekend wrote:Same with cows, pigs and chickens. Their tastiness has become an evolutionary advantage.


Hmmmm. Within the species? Cheap, quick-growing individuals probably have an advantage over the more delicious ones, while still needing to pass a minimum taste-test.

Species level. The taste of cows over the taste of molerats (I assume they taste bad) gives the cows an evolutionary advantage. There are many more cows than molerats.
Further, within the species the double muscle feature (caused by a malfunctioning myostatin gene according to wikipedia) gives an advantage.


No, that assumption is the advantage. It's less about how something tastes and more about how people think it would taste. Even if molerat tasted amazing you would have difficulty convincing people to try it.

Now I think about it: yes. See insects, still an exotic food in most of the world but apparently very tasty.
Mikeski wrote:A "What If" update is never late. Nor is it early. It is posted precisely when it should be.

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he/him/his

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selene
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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby selene » Thu Apr 07, 2016 1:14 pm UTC

This comic reminds me of the BAHfest presentation explaining the anti-vaxxer movement. An infectious species has, as a defense mechanism, developed the ability to induce this irrational behavior in its hosts.

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SerMufasa
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Re: 1664: Mycology

Postby SerMufasa » Thu Apr 07, 2016 7:34 pm UTC

Forget the fungus. My latest guess is that we're all unknowingly controlled by nanite bacteria sent back in time by an artificial intelligence to ensure that its creation can not be prevented.
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