Tom Bruns, U.C. Berkeley
This new mushroom species, found in the forests of Borneo, has a sponge-like appearance.
ScienceDaily (June 15, 2011) — Sing it with us: What lives in the rainforest, under a tree? Spongiforma squarepantsii, a new species of mushroom almost as strange as its cartoon namesake.
Its discovery in the forests of Borneo, says San Francisco State University researcher Dennis Desjardin, suggests that even some of the most charismatic characters in the fungal kingdom are yet to be identified.
Shaped like a sea sponge, S. squarepantsii was found in 2010 in the Lambir Hills in Sarawak, Malaysia. It is bright orange -- although it can turn purple when sprinkled with a strong chemical base -- and smells "vaguely fruity or strongly musty," according to Desjardin and colleagues' description published in the journal Mycologia.
Under a scanning electron microscope, the spore-producing area of the fungus looks like a seafloor carpeted in tube sponges, which further convinced the researchers to name their find after the famous Bob.