Fossil Fleshy Fungi (“Mushrooms”) in Amber

Most consider mushrooms as gilled fungi that grow in yards and are available for purchase in stores; however mycologists consider these table mushrooms as just one group of fleshy fungi, along with coral fungi, jelly fungi, bracken fungi, puffballs, earthstars, gastroids and bird’s nest fungi. Due to the delicate nature of most fleshy fungi, the fossil record of such forms is quite limited. Amber is one media that preserves delicate objects, such as fungal bodies, in exquisite detail. This is due to the preservative qualities of the resin when contact is made with entrapped plants and animals.

Fossil Fleshy Fungi
Fossil Fleshy Fungi

Not only does the resin restrict air from reaching the fossils, it withdraws moisture from the tissue, resulting in a process known as inert dehydration. This together with antimicrobial compounds in the resin that destroy decay- causing microorganisms and terpenoids and resin acids that fix the tissues, a natural embalming process occurs during the process of polymerization and cross-bonding of the resin molecules. The present work reviews fossil fleshy fungi recovered from amber deposits around the world.


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