Thursday, June 4, 2015

Pictou's Dawsons and Fungi

Medical scientist Martin Henry Dawson (his dad was from Pictou town) is today best known for being the first to inject an antibiotic (the fungus metabolite penicillin) into a patient.

But a century earlier, another famous scientific Dawson from Pictou town (and a possibly a relative of Henry's) Sir John William Dawson, also became famous for his work with fungi.

He was credited with discovering the giant 25 foot tall fungus (Prototaxites) that dominated the world before today's trees took over.

(Though Dawson admittedly thought it was a weird giant lichen - as did the rest of the scientific community until very recently.)

Again only recently, other scientists discovered that the largest living being on Earth is a single fungus individual occupying 4 square miles of Oregon forest soil.

Even more so than their tiny neighbours the bacteria, these biological Rodney Dangerfields don't get the respect they deserve....

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