A new study conducted by a team of researchers from the from Oregon State University in collaboration with USDA Agricultural Research Service has revealed that a 100 million year old plant trapped in amber contained a type of ergot fungus.
Apparently this plant may have caused the dinosaurs that ate it to hallucinate.
The fossilized plant was discovered in 2001 by Joerg Wunderlich, a German paleontologist, in the amber mines of Myanmar. The scientists believe this is the area where a species of dinosaurs known as sauropods lived millions of year ago.
The paleontologist sent his discovery to Dr. George Poinar, a paleo-entomologists from Oregon State.
Dr. Poinar realized that the plant was not a flower, as it was assumed, but a piece of grass. According to analysis, it proved to be the oldest known piece of grass in the world.
Also, Dr. Poinar discovered that the 100 million year old plant was actually topped with a fungus similar to the modern ergot.
A version of the ergot fungus, which is known to be associated with LSD, was found on the grass that was consumed by the largest animals that ever lived on our planet.
According to experts, ergot is a fungus that lives on grasses like wheat and rye, which causes serious side-effects if ingested by humans.
The ergot fungus can cause delirium, hallucinations, convulsions and even gangrene. Some historians believe that the women executed during the Salem witch trials in 1692 may have ingested bread that had been contaminated with the ergot fungus.
In our modern culture, the ergot fungus is known as the source used in the making of LSD.
A few years ago, researchers discovered grass samples in the dinosaurs’ fossilized feces. This means that the ergot fungus was present on the grass consumed by the giant animals.
Professor Poinar says that no one can know for sure if the ergot-infected grass had any hallucinogenic effects on the giant dinosaurs after ingesting it.
He adds that he can only say what effects this fungus has on modern-day lizards and birds, the distant relatives of dinosaurs.
Image Source: heritagedaily