When people think of the Earth’s largest organisms they usually imagine whales, elephants, and dinosaurs. Turns out though that the largest organisms on Earth aren’t animals at all, but a species of humungous fungus that lives right beneath our feet.
One of the most notable examples of this impressive fungus, known as Armillaria gallica, is located in Crystal Creek, Mich. A team of researchers originally discovered the mushroom back in the late 1980s and dubbed it the largest single organism in the world.
At the time, the researchers estimated that the fungus clocked in at 110 tons and was an astonishing 1,500-years-old. However, a new study by the same team published in bioRxiv this year reveals that the fungus is much more massive and much older than they originally thought.
The team took 245 samples across the mushroom, examined these, and concluded that all of the samples did indeed originate from one single organism. This means that the single fungal strain covers 90 acres of land on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan: and is two times the size of New York City’s Grand Central Station.
The study posits also that the massive organism is actually 2,500-years-old— a millennium older than initially believed— and is roughly four times heavier than they previously thought, weighing a whopping 440 tons, which is equivalent to three blue whales.