Millions of years before LSD and psychedelic trance and rock music existed, the dinosaurs chomped on psychedelic fungus, new research suggests. The hints that dinosaurs became wildly blazed come from the first amber fossil ever found of ergot, a grass parasite that can have poisonous and mind-altering effects on animals that nibble the dark fungi.
Also if you’re an avid consumer of steel cut oats, you may find an ergot in yours especially if the quality teams fail to notice them. Just saying.
Ergot is the precursor to LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide). As we stated before, people who eat ergot-contaminated rye (or other ergot-tainted grains) develop powerful muscle spasms and hallucinations. The phrase “St. Anthony’s Fire” refers to both ergotism and the horrible burning feeling that ergot triggers by constricting blood vessels.
Scientists are now suggesting that ergot has plagued grassy plant eaters since dinosaurs roamed the Earth. The hunk of amber from Myanmar preserved an exquisite ergot fungus, perched atop a grass spike that grew roughly 100 million years ago, researchers report in the 2015 issue of the journal Palaeodiversity. The amber was excavated in a mine and collected by Joerg Wunderlich, a German paleontologist.
“This establishes for sure that grasses were in the Old World 100 million years ago,” said lead study author George Poinar Jr., a zoology professor at Oregon State University.
Staggering evidence is amassing that grasses evolved alongside the dinosaurs, rather than after the giant reptiles disappeared. Fossil evidence suggests the first grasslands made their debut some 30 million years after the mass extinction that killed off the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous Period nearly 65 million years ago. But even if grasses did not spread widely early on, grasses discovered in dinosaur poop, and clues in pieces of amber, hint that grasses were around for creatures to munch on during the Cretaceous Period.
Notably, fossilized dinosaur poop known as coprolites, contains tiny cells found only in plants, several other studies have reported. The droppings are from sauropods, some of the largest plant grazing dinosaurs that ever roamed the planet.
No one exactly knows when ergot fungus first attacked grass, but both fossils discovered inside the amber resemble modern species, Poinar said.
“It indicates that psychedelic compounds were present back in the Cretaceous,” Poinar told Live Science. “What effect it had on animals is difficult to tell, but my feeling is dinosaurs definitely fed on this grass.”
Scientists may also have to rethink the origins of ergot because of the new find. *cues in mystery music* Earlier studies have hypothesized that ergot came from the regions of South America toward the end of the Cretaceous Period. Later they would then migrate northward and spread to Europe and Africa. The amber fossils put the fungus firmly cemented on the timeline of the Old World, and the scientists theorized both grasses and their parasite were around since the older Jurassic Period, which lasted from about 199.6 million to 145.5 million years ago.
“Grasses probably go back to the Early Cretaceous Period and possibly even the Jurassic Period,” Poinar said.
The amber relic is very tiny only about a half-inch (12 millimeters) long, and just about 0.2 inches (5 mm) wide and deep. The grass spike and ergot fungus resemble an ear of corn, with the leaves of grass ecnased around the “ear” of the dark, flower like fungus.
Amber is tree resin, and monkey puzzle trees (Araucaria) — the evergreen pines that looks like top heavy Dr. Seuss trees were the likely culprit for the resin source, according to chemical tests and wood fibers found in amber from the same mine.