Wednesday, June 22, 2011

SpongeBob lends name to new mushroom species found in Borneo

A new species of mushroom has been named by its discoverers after the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants.

The fungus, named Spongiforma squarepantsii by the researchers at San Francisco State University (SFSU), was found during an expedition to the forests of Borneo.

S. squarepantsii is shaped like a sea sponge and, say its discoverers, has a fruity or musty smell.

Details are published in the scientific journal Mycologia.

SpongeBob is the star of an eponymous television cartoon series which began in 1999. The character, who wears a short pair of square, brown trousers, lives in the fictional locality of Bikini Bottom.

The new mushroom is only one of two species that belong in the genus Spongiforma. The other one is found in central Thailand, but differs in its colour and odour.

"We expect that it has a wider range than these two areas," said Professor Dennis E Desjardin, from SFSU, who is a co-author of the scientific paper.

"But perhaps we haven't seen it in more places because we haven't collected it yet in some of the under-explored forests of the region."


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