by Marena Gibson
You may have heard that humans are more closely related to fungi than we are to plants. Though all 3 groups--animals, fungi, and plants-- belong to the same domain, or biological group, animals and fungi branched away from plants about 1 billion years ago.
Later on, animals and fungi also split in their evolutionary paths. Still, the fact remains that we share a more recent common ancestor with fungi and, as a result, are more genetically similar to them. It’s a strange concept, but next time you see some form of fungi, think about it: biologically, you’re more like that patch of wild mushrooms than the grass they’re growing in.
What exactly does this mean for humans? That’s hard to tell--but it might be the reason why humans have been able to successfully utilize fungi in so many different ways. For tens of thousands of years, mushrooms have been a valuable resource to humans. Whether for food, or medicine, or use in religious/spiritual purposes, even our ancestors relied on the benefits they provide.
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