ISGS scientist collects sample that appears to be oldest fossilized fungus
Before Franck Delpomdor was an associate sedimentologist at the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS), while he was working for a Belgian oil company, he found something unusual inside a small rock during a routine geologic sampling mission in the Congo.
Delpomdor and his colleague and lead author, Steeve Bonneville, a researcher at Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, argue in a paper published in Scientific Advances that the rock sample, now part of the collection in the Africa Museum in Tervuren, Belgium, contains a fossilized fungus. Based on the find’s location in 810 to 715 million-year-old dolomitic shale, this would shift the timeline of the earliest known presence of fungi on Earth by about 350 million years.
The authors argue this shows that fungi were one of the first organisms to survive on the Earth's surface and likely played a key role in supporting the first plant life.