LIVING WITH IT WORKING WITH IT TREATING IT
First Prototaxite identified
Millions of years prior to the production of hallucinogenic drugs, prehistoric dinosaurs munched on an ancient fungus that had psychedelic effects.
Detail and brief description of taxonomy of Fungi
The numerous examples of 'drug' use in prehistory suggests that they may have played an important role in our imaginative development. For example, we now know that the flowers associated with Neanderthal burials had psychoactive properties (Leroi-Gouriian 1984)
The question is not whether drugs were used in prehistory, but rather - to what extent and what for. Prehistoric rock-art and shamanic imagery suggest that humans have been using mind altering substances for thousands of years. It is even suggested that they may have played an evolutionary role in our mental development.
A fungus that decomposes wood and which appeared nearly 300 million years ago might offer a partial explanation as to why vegetation-based coal formation stopped during this same period. This is one of the conclusions of a study by researchers from INRA, CNRS and the Universities of Lorraine and Aix-Marseille as part of an international consortium. The study provides insight into the wood degradation process by modern fungi, which could be of particular interest to the biofuels industry. The results were published in the 29 June 2012 issue of Science.
Prehistoric plants grown in state-of-the-art growth chambers recreating environmental conditions from more than 400 million years ago have shown scientists from the University of Sheffield how soil dwelling fungi played a crucial role in the evolution of plants.
PCR, DNA sequencing and the molecular revolution brought a whole new dynamic to paleomycology. Previously, it had only been possible to study the fungi of the past through spores deposited in sediments and permafrost soils, fossilized or petrified material associated with plant remains and gut contents, and those few unlucky fungi who found themselves covered in plant resins that eventually became amber. However, environmental DNA can be preserved for thousands of years under the right conditions, and the field of ancient DNA analysis has suddenly widened our ability to reconstruct past fungal communities.
In the ancient times, man had to face not only the opposing forces of nature, wild animals and
poisonous organisms, but also diseases, misfortunes that seemed to arise from nowhere.
Thousands of years passed before the man began to acquire knowledge concerning the nature,
treatment, and prevention of the infectious diseases. Our early progenitors found it natural to
attribute the responsibility of the epidemics that they could not rule to a divine will that had
to be satisfied with prayers, rites and sacrifices. The difficulties of a rational approach to the
understanding of the etiology of infections is well reflected by the lack of any reference
known before the Hindu, Greek and Roman civilizations, when the related diseases were
described, however, exclusively on the basis of signs, symptoms and treatments [Ajello,