SAN FRANCISCO (June 15, 2009) - It's two inches long, grows on wood, and is shaped like a phallus. A new species of stinkhorn mushroom, Phallus drewesii, has been discovered on the African island of Sao Tome and graces the upcoming cover of the journal Mycologia. The mushroom is named after Robert Drewes, Curator of Herpetology at the California Academy of Sciences, and is described in the July/August issue by Professor Dennis Desjardin and Brian Perry of San Francisco State University.
Phallus drewesii belongs to a group of mushrooms known as stinkhorns which give off a foul, rotting meat odor. There are 28 other species of Phallus fungi worldwide, but this particular species is notable for its small size, white net-like stem, and brown spore-covered head. It is also the only Phallus species to curve downward instead of upward.
"The mushroom emerges from an egg and elongates over four hours," says Desjardin, who is also a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences. "Its odor attracts flies who consume the spores and disperse them throughout the forest."
Desjardin and Perry named the new species after Drewes as an acknowledgment of his "inspiration and fortitude to initiate, coordinate and lead multiorganism biotic surveys on Sao Tome and Principe," according to the Mycologia paper.
"It's a wonderful honor and great fun to have this phallus-shaped fungus named after me," says Drewes. "I have been immortalized in the scientific record."
Phallus drewesii is not the first species to bear Drewes' name. A small moss frog native to South Africa (Arthroleptella drewesii) and a blind worm snake from Kenya (Leptotyphlops drewesi) were described in 1994 and 1996, respectively.
Over a span of forty years, Drewes has embarked on 36 expeditions to 19 African countries, where he has focused on the evolutionary relationships, natural history, and biogeo
|Contact: Andrew Ng|
California Academy of Sciences