Lichens, lichens, everywhere!

Can anyone confirm what these crazy geometric structures are? image image


Decided to take the foldscope on its first outing to my favorite hiking spot: Huckleberry State Preserve in Oakland, CA. Huckleberry is part of a larger network of trails that are the result of a volcano that erupted 10,000 years ago and then fell on its side. The soil is rich in minerals that give rise to an ecosystem reminiscent of the forests in Jurassic park. Redwoods and manzanita trees are covered in moss and lichens (a symbiotic organism comprised of fungi and Cyanobacteria). I took a sample of one of the more common lichens around, and was amazed when I saw large geometric structures including squares and spikey triangles that appeared to be extremely regular. Unfortunately I lost the sample (it was windy!), but I hope to take another next time and see what it looks like under high magnification. I would love to know what these are, if anyone has any idea.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Manu Prakash says:

    What an amazing finding.

    I am absolutely baffled and really surprised. Geometry and order at a place when I least expected it. Absolutely beautiful. It almost looks like a print on a A4 sheet. You need to go back to the state park 🙂


  2. laksiyer says:

    Next time suspend the lichen in water and tease out the fungi and the alga. Compare untreated and treated lichen bits. Most lichens contain a fungus and a chlorophyte alga, some have a cyanobacterium, some have both bacterium and alga.

    One of my favorite pastimes with lichens is to find tardigrades (the water bears).. Cmon foldscopers, havent seen a tardigrade post yet. They will light up your day.

  3. Manu Prakash says:

    @laksiyer: I was just thinking of the same thought. Connected to the salt post; what about getting a “dry” tardigrade to wake up under the foldscope 🙂

    Calling all Foldscopers to action. Go find a tardigrade (or buy them)..


  4. laksiyer says:

    Yes, I agree. waking up the tardigrade is a wonderful sight. Off on my bear hunt.

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