The earliest specimen of grass has been discovered in Burma – and apparently it’s really good shit! Fossil hunters have found plant remains that dating applications put being between 97 and 110 million years of age. And wouldn’t you know, it’s laced with hallucinogens. Perhaps that’s why Brontosauri look stoned in every single picture you see of them.
According to The Register, the uncovered sample of grass was laced with a now-extinct fungus, Palaeoclaviceps parasiticus, which is related to ergot, the naturally occurring substance that is used to synthesise LSD.
"This parasitic fungus may have been around almost as long as the grasses themselves, as both a toxin and natural hallucinogen," said George Poinar, Jr, faculty member in Oregon State University College of Science. "There's no doubt in my mind that it would have been eaten by sauropod dinosaurs, although we can’t know what exact effect it had on them."
Sauropod dinosaurs, incidentally, are those massive, long-necked herbivore reptiles that stalked the earth, chewing cud many eons ago. The Brontosaurus, Diplodocus and Apatosaurus all fall into this category. It’s not clear at present what effect eating hallucinogens would have had on these dinosaurs – given their size it may be the case that their sheer body mass would mean that the drugs didn’t work, as Richard Ashcroft once opined.
However, as Poinar would have it, this discovery points to the fact that ergot has a stronger lineage than once believed.
"It seems like ergot has been involved with animals and humans almost forever, and now we know that this fungus literally dates back to the earliest evolution of grasses," he said. [The Register]