Biggest Living Thing on Earth

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As far as living animals are concerned the largest living land animal is the African elephant, while the largest of all animals is the blue whale. But what about all living things? To examine this more closely we must consider all living organisms, and the largest one will take many by surprise.

The biggest living thing in the world is a mushroom that was discovered in Oregon. The giant mushroom is called Armillaria ostoyae, commonly known as the honey mushroom. It started life as a single, tiny spore, far too small to see with the naked eye. Over the last 2400 years it has grown to a massive size, spreading its black filaments throughout the forest destroying everything in its path. It now covers a massive area of 2,200 acres (880 hectares) of the Malheur National Forest, in eastern Oregon. The giant mushroom has an outline that stretches 5.6 kilometres (3.5 miles) across and penetrates the earth for 1 metre (3 feet). To put it into perspective, the biggest living thing covers an area the size of 1665 football fields.

The mushroom grows to its massive size by stretching out its filaments called rhizomorphs throughout the surrounding forest and consuming everything in its path. This particular mushroom was only discovered after scientists heard about a massive tree die off in the area. When they investigated it they discovered that the fungus was attacking the roots of the trees. They took samples of the roots of the trees from different locations and conducted DNA testing. What they discovered was amazing. All of the fungus was the same, meaning it was one fungus, one giant mushroom that had stretched and spread out to consume a massive area.

Prior to its discovery in 1998, the worlds biggest living thing was in Washington state and was another giant mushroom (Armillaria ostoyae) that covered an area of 1500 acres (607 hectares).



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