Fungi: Why Mushrooms Are Awesome | Biology for Kids

Fungi: Why Mushrooms Are Awesome | Biology for Kids

November 5, 2019 53 By Ewald Bahringer


Squeaks and
I were just deciding what to have for lunch, and we’re thinking: pizza! You’ve probably heard of the topping I want
on mine, but it’s a little out of the ordinary. I’ll give you a hint: it has lots of vitamins
and minerals. But it’s not a plant, so it’s not broccoli
or peppers or olives, though I do love all of those vegetables! And it doesn’t come from an animal, so it’s
not sausage or pepperoni, though I do like those, too! Can you guess what I’m thinking of? [Squeaks] I’m going to have some mushrooms! That’s right — mushrooms aren’t plants,
and they aren’t animals, either. [Squeaks] Mushrooms are a type of fungus! Fungi are a whole separate kind of living
thing — not plants, and not animals. Some of them look a lot like the mushrooms
I’ll be having on my pizza. But others are much weirder! There’s black witches’ butter, which is
a type of fungus called a jelly fungus. I bet you can guess why — it looks a lot
like dark, thick jelly! Then there’s the brain mushroom, which looks
a lot like … well, a brain. There are even mushrooms that glow in the
dark! Fungi might seem like plants from the outside,
because many of them grow from the ground. But scientists have made some pretty cool
discoveries about fungi that make them different from plants! For example, one thing that makes plants special
is that they make their own food out of sunlight. That’s how all plants eat, but fungi can’t
do it! Instead, they have to get their food from
other living things, just like us animals. That’s also why you might see mushrooms
growing in dark places – they don’t need the sunlight! But plants won’t grow in the dark. Also, get this, when you look at a fungus
really close up, you can tell that they’re actually made of some of the same stuff as
animals, not plants! But remember, fungi aren’t animals, either. For one thing, even though fungi have to seek
out their food since they can’t make it themselves like plants do, they can’t run
or walk or even fly to get it like animals. Fungi actually grow right on top of their
own food. Mushrooms, for example, eat dead plants, which
is why they often grow on trees or the forest floor. As fungi get bigger, they’re able to absorb,
or soak up, more and more food. They’re pretty special that way. When animals like you and me break down our
food and turn it into energy, we do it inside our bodies. Our stomachs add special stomach juices to
the food in our bodies to break it down more easily. Fungi digest food in a totally different way! They add stomach juices to their food, too,
but they spread it right on what they’re eating, so the food gets broken down outside
of their bodies, not on the inside! Then, after the food is broken down, the fungi
just soak up what’s left over. [Squeaks thinks this is cool] I agree — fungi are pretty awesome! Especially mushrooms. But even though a lot of mushrooms are good
for you, like the ones on pizza, we definitely don’t want to go picking mushrooms ourselves That’s because there are sooooo many different
types of mushrooms in the world, and some of them could make you really sick if you
eat them. They can give people a stomach ache, or make
them feel like throwing up, or much worse! And some of the mushrooms that are bad for
you actually look a lot like mushrooms that are good for you! So we leave the mushroom-growing to the experts
and don’t pick them ourselves. Now, I think it’s about time we go get some
pizza! Thanks for joining us! If you want to keep learning and having fun
with Squeaks and me, hit the subscribe button, and don’t forget to check us out on the
YouTube Kids app. We’ll see you next time, here at the Fort!