Some people might have a difficult time understanding the difference of sex and genders. Some people can get very offended by it as well. But imagine if humans were like the Split Gill Mushroom, things would be way more complicated … and kinkier. Maybe.
This fungus (aka Chizophyllum Commune) gets its name from its appearance when it dries out. It can usually be found on rotting wood. It might sound like something you would find in a supermarket or on a posh French dish, but these little guys can make people really sick with disease.
What makes it really unique is that it has over 23,000 distinct sexes, or “mating types.”
NOT HUMAN SEX
You might be imagining different kinds of penises and vaginas (or something out of a sci-fi movie), but in the case of fungi, it has nothing to do with physical structure and everything to do with the genome.
Here’s a breakdown…
- Genomes are at two separate loci, or locations (called A and B)
- Each loci has two alleles, or alternate forms (called alpha and beta)
- Every A-alpha/beta and B-alpha/beta can have many different variants, called specificities
- These combinations add up to thousands of possible sexes
- They can mate with any specificity as long as there’s at least one difference on A and B
We won’t get into the details of how they make little mushroom babies – mostly because it gets way too complicated. But the gist is still interesting.
There’s no candlelight dinner or foreplay.
They just bump into each other and part of their cells fuse together (split gills use “clamps”). Since their sexes are highly diverse, there’s an enormously high chance they will be compatible.
Imagine walking around and you bump into someone with different color hair as you … and BAM! You’re now connected by a baby … literally.
Bet you’ll look at dating and romance apps totally different from now on.
Any fun thoughts or insights? Know any cool things about the animal kingdom and sex? Share in the comments!