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The Most Humungus Fungus Among Us!

    What do you think the single biggest living thing in the world is? Here are a few hints: it's not an animal, it lives underground, it's been alive for at least 2,400 years (and maybe as long as 7,200 years!), and it rhymes with "bungus".

    That's right -- it's a fungus. A giant fungus.

    This particular fungus lives in Malheur National Forest in Eastern Oregon. The fungus is about three and a half miles across, stretching under 2,400 acres of ground (an area equal to about 1,665 football fields), and lives from three to ten feet under the earth. The fungus kills trees to live, by sapping water and nutrients from the roots (causing a condition known as "root rot"). Because it lives underground it's impossible to see the whole fungus, but scientists realized it was one giant organism when they took samples from the roots of 112 dead or dying trees, and found the fungus samples from more than half of them were genetically identical.

    Above ground, the only evidence of the giant fungus are golden mushrooms, which sprout after it rains. But underground, thin black tendrils search for nourishment, destroying tree roots -- and anything else that gets in its way!



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