Did Dinosaurs Get High On Psychedelic Fungus?
The study of new archeologically findings suggests that herbivore dinosaurs may have regularly gotten high from psychedelic fungus, as a by-product of eating grass. These hints have been discovered thanks to the uncovering of an amber fossil containing ergot perched on top of a grass spikelet - ergot being a parasitic psychedelic fungus that likes to attack grass. Until this discovery, we had no idea how far back ergot’s existence stretched.
WHAT IS ERGOT?
You may have heard of ergot before. It is the precursor to LSD, and was the initial fungus that Albert Hoffman use to synthesise it. Even before its hallucinogenic properties were scientifically recognised, ergot had a history of leaving its mark on human society. This was mainly through the contamination of grain crops, which would cause hallucinations in those who accidently consumed them. This is where the phrase “St. Anthony’s Fire” actually comes from, as the hallucinations would often come paired with a feeling like fire running through the veins. This burning feeling was actually due to the constriction of blood vessels that ergot poisoning causes, but at the time it was thought to be supernatural – understandable when accompanied by hallucinations! Ergot contamination is also thought by some to be responsible for the hysteria that caused the Salem Witch trials.
ERGOT AND DINOSAURS
Back to the current day, and this new archaeological discovery suggests that ergot has been contaminating food supplies for over 100 million years. What’s more, analysis suggests that the ergot we know today has changed very little from its ancestor. Lead researcher George Poinar Jr., a zoology professor at Oregon State University, had the following to say:
"It indicates that psychedelic compounds were present back in the Cretaceous [period]. What effect it had on animals is difficult to tell, but my feeling is dinosaurs definitely fed on this grass."
So if ergot was contaminating grass in abundance - which is highly likely - there is a good probability that somewhere at some point, dinosaurs were getting high on it. It isn’t the solid proof we hoped for, but it is certainly a nice thought It is certainly encouraging to know that it was likely.