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Merlin Sheldrake interviewed by Freddie Sayers - The Philosophy of Fungi

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Merlin Sheldrake is a biologist and expert on the mysterious world of fungi, and this podcast comes from when he was promoting his book on the subject, Entangled Life, that grabbed our attention.

There are good reflections here on what individuality means, and also the influence his father's notion of "morphic resonance" had upon him.

My favorite bit is at the 8-minute mark when he starts talking about Ophiocordyceps unilateralis ants:

"Fungi don't have twitchy muscular bodies, the ability to walk, bite, or fly, and so to spread their spores many of them have worked out how to commandeer an animal body and to puppet its behavior to achieve some fungal end. and the end is spreading the fungal spores. and so the carpet ants that you mentioned this is one very well studied example there's a fungus called Ophiocordyceps unilateralis. and this fungus, it grows into ants and it starts to wind its network through their bodies and it produces chemicals which alter its behavior. and the ant's instinct is to stay low in the dark and relative safety of the forest. but when possessed by this fungus it's compelled to climb up. it becomes fascinated with heights. it's a syndrome known as summit disease. and the ant climbs up plant stalks and at a certain height, which is the optimal height for the fungus to fruit, the ant is compelled by the fungus to bite onto the vein of a leaf. and this is known as its death grip. and then the fungus will run through the rest of its body and eventually will sprout a stalk out of its head. and as much as 40 percent of the mass of an infected ant can be fungus. it really becomes a kind of prosthetic organ of this ant's body. and once the stalk's planted out of its head, it can rain down spores on the other ends passing below and thus complete its life cycle. what's interesting about these fungi is that these behaviors, these ant behaviors, are actually not ant behaviors, they're fungal behaviors. they're thought of by researchers in this field as a fungus in ants, so it's really starts to blur the lines of where one creature starts and another one stops."



Coast to coast:


Nature is mind-blowingly fascinating. What billions of years of evolution can do!

Read this you will never think of voices, mind chatter and racism (or biology for that matter...) in the same way ever again

nice, thank you for the reference. I will try to get a copy, cheers

here it is