Catch Us If You Can

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Beaty Biodiversity Museum The Beaty Biodiversity Museum is Vancouver’s natural history museum. We work to promote a greater understanding of, and collective responsibility for, the biodiversity of BC, Canada, and the World. Come visit us on UBC campus – we’re located at 2212 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC. You can find more info at beatymuseum.ubc.ca. Follow us @beatymuseum on Twitter & Instagram and like us on Facebook.

We are watching you. Silently stalking. Ever since the fall rains began we have been hiding in plain sight. Haven’t you noticed that we are everywhere?

Who are we? We’ll give you a few clues:

  • Some of us can shoot our spores ten thousand times the acceleration experienced by astronauts during the launch of the Space Shuttle.
  • One of us is the largest organism on Earth and is the size of 1,665 football fields.
  • You only know as little as five percent of the 1.5 million of us that are probably out there.
  • Then there’s the small fact that we are going to save the world. There’s even a TED talk about it. Watch it. We can clean polluted soil, create new insecticides, treat smallpox, and maybe even the flu.

Any ideas?

Here’s a bigger hint:

“In a minute or two the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth, and yawned once or twice, and shook itself. Then it got down off the mushroom, and crawled away into the grass, merely remarking as it went, ‘One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter.’

‘One side of what? The other side of what?’ thought Alice to herself.

‘Of the mushroom,’ said the Caterpillar, just as if she had asked it aloud; and in another moment it was out of sight.”

Ah yes you’ve got it now. Our most recognizable member – the red-capped, white spotted Amanita muscaria – a poisonous mushroom that has hallucinogenic properties and can make you really sick if consumed (so DO NOT eat it). It messes with perspective and makes things look really really big or really really small, just like Alice in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Maybe you know this mushroom from Super Mario Brothers where it makes Mario change size like Alice.

Alice
Amanita muscaria – the mushroom from Alice in Wonderland and Super Mario on UBC campus.

You should also know that we can be dark and dangerous. A poisonous one of our number can look exactly like an edible one. The poisonous ivory funnel mushroom looks like an oyster mushroom. Can you spot three differences between them?

Photos by Kent Brothers.
Poisonous ivory funnel mushrooms and oyster mushrooms. Which is which? Photos by Kent Brothers.

Safety first kids! Always go mushroom picking with an expert and never consume anything you can’t identify.

Yes we are dangerous but we’re also pretty hilarious. We’re all fun-gi! Get it? Fun guy = fungi! Ok yeah that was a bit too cheesy. But it’s the truth, the truth that you will discover for yourself with the Mushroom Hunt contest. The Beaty Biodiversity Museum and mycological friends have a whole arsenal of mushroom jokes and quirky facts that will be coming at you faster than a mushroom shoots its spores (which is faster than a speeding bullet so stop using that antiquated saying).

Not mushroom.
A FUN(gi) Fact on UBC campus waiting to be found and captured via instagram.

Join the Mushroom Hunt and keep your eyes open for FUN(gi) Fact signs that, like mushrooms, are popping up around UBC campus today pointing out fungi. Be the person who captures the most FUN(gi) Facts via instagram using #mushroomhunt #beatymuseum by 5:00pm on October 31st  to win a Mushroom Gouda pizza from Pie R Squared. See contest rules for more details.

FUN(gi) Fact - "Yes you've seen me here before but don't think you can pick me up with that line"
One of the FUN(gi) Facts to be found and instagramed – “Yes you’ve seen me here before but don’t think you can pick me up with that line.”

Come discover the secret lives of mushrooms November 1st at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum’s mushroom walk.