Wednesday, October 23, 2013


The real science behind Viridian: Venus Angel, 
the sequel to Viridian

Fungi aren't just mushrooms, like this poisonous fly agaric:

They come in all shapes and sizes. And some have great names like this .....

........ yukky-looking fungus which is called Yellow Brain Fungus and ......

......... this one which is called Jelly Ear Fungus because it looks and feels like a cold, clammy , rubbery human ear.


At the beginning of Viridian: Venus Angel, Jay thinks back to the last time he saw Viridian, the monstrous plant/human hybrid and Supreme Cultivar Commander.

The last time Jay saw the power-mad monster his massive body was putrefying. His glossy green skin was being eaten by fungi. Fungus spores were puffing from his mouth and nostrils.
"But you didn't actually see his dead body, did you?" said a nagging voice in Jay's head.
"Yeah but that's cos he crawled away to die somewhere, Jay reassured himself. Anyway, stop thinking about him. He's history."

Fungi growing on Viridian's green skin.

So is the tyrant Viridian history? No chance, as Jay discovers to his horror in Viridian Venus Angel!
Viridian has moved underground and morphed into an even freakier and more powerful hybrid, a human/fungus monster called a Fungoid. Here's a description of him in his new Fungoid form.

His new body gave off a sinister glow, like the toadstools on his cave wall. The skin across his skull was as slippery smooth as the deadly poisonous "Destroying Angel". Crowning his head, instead of verdan thorns, was a great pleated crest, shaped like an axe blade. And from his luminous fingers spun strange long, sticky threads that stretched away into darkness.

These long sticky threads are called fungal hyphae. They creep forward with incredible speed and digest everything they touch. When they're fully fed they turn into a toadstool ........ this deadly poisonous Destroying Angel  

The great pleated crest on Viridian's head looks like the gills  underneath a mushroom., like the ones below ...

"Are you kidding?" I can hear you cry. "I could just about believe a plant virus crossing to humans. But a human morphing into a fungus! There can't  be any real science in that."
But, in fact, there is!


Our bones, muscles, tendons and organs inside our bodies are held together by a protein called collagen. Scientists used to believe that collagen couldn't be found outside the animal kingdom. But now they've discovered it in fungi.
That means fungi are much more closely related to animals than they are to plants.
 Amazing fact:  YOU are related to a mushroom!


This yellow slime mould creeps across wet surfaces digesting bacteria as it goes.  

This slime mould is called The Dog's Vomit Slime Mould!


In caves and tunnels underground, Viridian has started to build another evil empire. This time he captures humans from above ground and turns them into zombie slaves who dig tunnels for him. This is how he does it.

The sticky threads that come from Viridian's body are hyphae. They grow underground and every so often they branch upwards and grow a new fungus (the ones Viridian grows are star shaped, called Earthstars) on the surface. These fungi puff out spores. So far so scientific! Real fungi grow hyphae that grow other fungi that puff out spores. That's how they reproduce.

Earthstar Fungi

But the spores from Viridian's Earthstars are breathed in by his human captives. The spores affect their brains and make them like zombies, so they do whatever Viridian wants.


Amazing fact: Yes, some do!

Below is a wasp whose body and brain has been invaded by a fungus.

Image source

The giant spider below was eaten alive by a different fungus

Image source

The body of the dung fly in the photo above was attacked by a fungus that also invaded its brain. The fungus in its brain changed the fly's behaviour and made it climb to a high place to die where the sticky spores that burst from its body could easily stick to other flies. So by making the fly into its zombie slave the fungus spreads and survives. This is the sinister power of fungi!  

Only Dr Moran (Toni's scientist Dad) realises how powerful Viridian is in his new Fungoid transformation. Dr Moran says:

 "He's using the power of fungi for world domination. It's incredible. Biologically, it's brilliant!"

But, for once, Dr.Moran is wrong. Even he's underestimated Viridian because the Fungoid freak's ambitions are much, much greater than ruling planet Earth. But what about the real science behind Viridian's incredible plans?

Watch out for my next post -  SPORES IN SPACE!

All photographs copyright Phil Gates unless otherwise indicated