Friday, November 13, 2009

Meet the fascinating, classification-bending 'lichen'

Pound360 is pretty sure if you went to the street and asked 10 people what a "lichen" is (pronounced lie-ken), they'd probably say it's a werewolf. That's a lycan. A lichen is a form of life that scientists have struggled to classify as either a plant or an animal. That's because it's pretty much both, rather, a "composite of mutually beneficial fungi and algae." This from an article in the Nov 2009 issue of Discover Magazine (no, Pound360 couldn’t find it at the website).

Fungi take the lead in the relationship, "harvesting" the algae. One expert described lichens as "fungi that have discovered agriculture."

Who cares? Scientists studying changes in the environment, for one. Lichens cover forests, and can be early indicators of environmental decline, or "signal an environment on the mend."

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.