Way back when, during a time when the earth was a violent mass of volcano's, turbulent lands and erratic seas, something happened that would forever change the course of life on earth forever. What happened, would be the precursor to all living things on earth, after bacteria of course.
If you can believe, that amazing astounding astonishing thing that happened, was the evolution of the very first fungal being, dated farther back than 1,300 MILLION years ago. Now, not only does that show earth is much older than previously estimated (unless the flying spaghetti monster is tricking us again), but it also makes mushrooms older than dinosaurs, and even older than the first plant life on earth.
And don't get me wrong, that wasn't a type. Mushrooms are older than ANY plant life, because mushrooms are NOT plants. They are living, sentient beings very closely related to humans and other animal/mammals. The DNA is only a few chromosomes off (amazing how a few chromosomes can add arms and legs eh?). Anyways, that's a topic for another post.
Back to the subject at hand - Mushrooms were the FIRST living creatures on earth after basic bacteria. And not only was it one of the very first living beings to evolve here, mushrooms are also thought to be responsible for the evolution of GREEN life on earth - that's right, without fungus, we wouldn't be the lush plant-rich planet we are today.
Now, it took about 720 million years, but Mushrooms figured out how to multiply themselves and adapt to any and all environmental situations available on earth at those times. Though that is not to say they didn't change things for their own benefit, which clearly shows by the fact that they managed to lower the earths temperature inside and out during a series of unexplainably fast events that lead to the creation of beings we would now only know as basic skeletal-free fossils which would be the first attempts at evolving into other sentient beings.
Now, our nifty mycological scientist, have yet to discover just how the oxygen loving-carbon emitting fungus managed to lower the earths temperature. Though regardless of the "how", when the fungi managed to do this, and allowed for other organisms previously unable to evolve in the high temperatures, to grow into strange yet extraordinary creatures that we now know as Algae, Trees and Plant life. These now stronger organisms were particularly thrilled, as were the mushrooms, as they were able to work together easily. You see, the plant life and algae were already enabled with the ability to survive on what was already readily available in our atmosphere - Carbon Dioxide - which also happens to be the waste that mushrooms (and all animal/mammals) emit. By chance, the plant and algae waste just so happened to be the key ingredient that mushrooms (and animals/mammals) need to survive - OXYGEN. And so the first symbiotic relationship was formed. When this happened, the earths atmoshpere dropped in carbon dioxide levels and increased its levels of oxygen.
The earths first (tiny) trees and plants, which were actually smaller than most mushrooms on earth at the time (which were usually around three feet tall), thrived by eating up as much carbon dioxide as they could and freely relieving themselves of their gassy waste (oxygen), which the mushrooms readily eat up. The trees eventually grew taller than the mushrooms, the mycelium spread further throughout the earths crust, the plants diversified and adapted and then, the strangest thing happened - more oxygen-loving creatures apparated onto the scene. The creatures that thrived from these events, would be the first swimmers, wigglers, crawlers and flyers - only made possible by the ability to evolve bones, denser bodies and different forms of bodies. And, as these creatures evolved and diversified, and as before - so did the mushrooms.
Mushrooms sure are opportunistic aren't they?
Not that that's a bad thing at all. For if mushrooms didn't take the chances they did way back then, our earth would not be as green and wonderful as it is today. Now, onto more important thoughts that I wanted to share with you, such as the notion that if fungi are the reason the earth turned lush and green, then isn't it possible that mushrooms can also be our salvation when it comes to returning the earth to the lushness it once enjoyed before we humans came along and mucked things up?