The mud mushroom
Mud mushroom (Lycoperdon africanus)Order: AgaricalesFamily: AgaricaceaeHabitat: African riverbanks, lakesWhen the beginning of the Neocene began a new ice age, planet Earth had a hard time, and especially for the residents of climatic zones away from the equator, which were more prone to icy cold. Winds, snow and glaciers came from the North Pole quite far to the south, driving there the former northerners. Therefore, in the Asian and African tropics, and then savannas, there appeared European species of animals, plants, and even of mushrooms. Many of them died out, unable to adapt to the change of places, but some survived, and even left descendants behind. Thus, in North Africa, (but not to the north of the Nile) there is a descendant of some European puffball mushrooms.Externally, this fungus - or rather, its fruit bodies - somehow resembles an ancestor: it is a kind of rounded ball of bright yellow color with red spots, somewhat resembling a fly agaric. However, unlike the latter, this fungus is not poisonous, on the contrary - its spores grow better, passing through the stomach of various herbivorous animals. As a result of which, the mud mushroom has developed certain substances in its biochemistry, which makes it more attractive to the smell and taste of its main distributors - wild African pigs, such as the runner warthogs, and the other species.But in nature, nothing happens for nothing - the increased "popularity" of this fungus in the runner warthogs and similar species has been affected by the worse perception/digesting in other herbivores, such as different species of African harelopes, which, after eating this fungus may begin to have health problems, (which makes them more vulnerable to predators). True, some "wrong" animals, like huge flathorns, eat these mushrooms without much damage to their health, but that is only in the view of their mighty immune systems. It is too early to say that mud mushrooms (named this way because they prefer to grow and breed in the mud of the banks of African rivers, lakes, and other freshwater bodies) begin to form a kind of symbiosis with African species of swine, but something similar in their evolution begins to occur.Mud mushroom can live several decades in the form of fungus, and even if it is almost all destroyed, it will be able to recover in a few months.In addition, to the north of the Nile, in the area attached to the Mediterranean basin, and just south - where groves of tree-like cacti, baobab opuntiums, grow, grows a relative, the sand mushroom, Lycoperdon aridophilus. Externally, its’ fruit bodies resemble the fruit bodies of a mud mushroom, only a different color: not yellow with red spots, but white with pale green spots. However, this fungus just does not like the abundance of moisture, unlike its yellow-red relative, and does not need contact with herbivorous animals for its spores to grow better - it prefers to spread underground without forming fruiting bodies. Therefore, its’ fruit bodies are just weakly poisonous, and in great quality can even kill an animal the size of a small harelope. This fungus species itself parasites on the root system of the baobab opuntia, without causing them much harm - it lives for as long as the host tree does, and dies with it.