Sometime in the near future, a caver gets lost in some caves in Arizona. He stumbles upon a city of what looks like glowing jellyfish underground. He soon realizes that these are sentient mushrooms, that use their roots for moving about. He witnesses one of these creatures catch a mouse and consume it using its roots/legs. The mushrooms scent him and start following him. They guide him to the surface by blocking off all the tunnels along his way that wouldn't lead out. The terrified caver reports his experiences, and brings some people back and shows them these creatures, and the story spreads from there.

Assume these creatures are two-three feet tall and docile to anything that is larger than them (and therefore not considered prey). These creatures mostly communicate by tapping their roots/legs on the ground. They also have a strong sense of smell.

Edit - These shroom-men (as you have dubbed them) move around on mycelium. Their "legs/roots" are the mycelium. The actual head part is for producing spores and storing food. It also is used for smelling and hearing. These creatures are sentient, and they are hunters. Their heads are hard, and they stand still, so when a cave creature comes by, thunk, they are smashed.

They probably bury the spores in certain areas, then protect the young shroom-children. The part of the menshrooms that looks like a jellyfish's legs is a kind of network of mycelium.

How would society in general react to this discovery? How would scientists react?

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    $\begingroup$ So you found this cave full of mushrooms and they suddenly started glowing and eating mice, huh? Exactly what kind of "mushrooms" were these? $\endgroup$
    – user15334
    Jan 23, 2016 at 17:40
  • $\begingroup$ First contact is actually something we have experience with it looks like youtu.be/2Y5rC7kDx3o So the Shroomen already know about us? $\endgroup$
    – King-Ink
    Jan 23, 2016 at 18:31
  • $\begingroup$ What would happen? Woe to the mushrooms. I fear so. $\endgroup$
    – gaazkam
    Jan 23, 2016 at 20:54
  • $\begingroup$ Mushrooms don't have roots. What we call mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of a fungi. Are you confusing the apple for the tree? $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Jan 23, 2016 at 21:36
  • $\begingroup$ @barrycarter and King-Ink and gaazkam and JDługosz They have root like appendages. They're some kind of evolved mycelium. And they probably knew and did not care, because we aren't really doing anything to them. $\endgroup$ Jan 23, 2016 at 23:42

2 Answers 2


What society? Our society? I assume this would be all over the news, but public would lose interest relatively soon. For them, this would be a discovery of a new animal, people not interested in biology would not care. Possibly, wild rumors will start growing around the discovery: giant jellyfish taking over the cities, aliens found on earth... However, those rumors would not be taken seriously.

Scientists would be thrilled, my sister, a biologist, comments: 'I would disect one of those'. Those creatures would probably not be seen as sentinent beings, at least not intelligent, and would be savagely experimented on. For research's sake the area would probably be closed to tourism. Probably some measure would be taken to contain the mushrooms, like fencing off the area.

In total, the discovery would probably go largely unnoticed, but would provoke a revolt in the biological scientific domain. Remember, with the amount of information we are flooded with every day, even news such as discovering a new weird mushroom would not provoke a turmoil.

Off topic, why do your mushrooms communicate visually? It seems pretty inefficient. Even if they have light sensors all over, any obstacle would prevent communication. At this point I would say that pheromonal secretions - smell - are much more functional. For humans, the main sense of communication between themselves is hearing. What if the mushrooms could hear too? It seems not impossible that sensitive beings such as mushrooms would be able to dechiffre sound waves. They could be sending out vibrational morse signals.

  • $\begingroup$ as a man of science, I am troubled by the word savagely but I agree with the gist of your answer. $\endgroup$
    – King-Ink
    Jan 23, 2016 at 21:00
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    $\begingroup$ I changed their communication because I like yours better. It sounds like you're describing Europeans and Indians meeting. At first they'll probably be okay, then one side will mess up and next thing you know you have mushrooms eating cavers. And scientists dissecting the mushrooms. (Which isn't quite what happened with American Indians by the way.) $\endgroup$ Jan 23, 2016 at 23:46

I essentially agree with L.R. we would not see them as sentient and outside of scientists most people would lose interest.

The scientific issue with these Shroomen that I think most mycologists would take an interest in where the Mycelium are. Mushrooms are the normally spore body (essentially fruit) for mats of white fibers that infiltrate the ground or growth media. The Shroomen would be presumedly a method for spreading spores over wider distances. They would be a species that does not have sexual or familial relationships and since they are talking it would be interesting to know why. Collective hunting? Are the Mycelium also sentient? sessile? attached but reduced to the leg structures? In this case, we would probably have more to talk with them about. (because of voluntary sexual reproduction)

You called it a city do they build structures? Are they for defense? from what? some other reason?

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    $\begingroup$ They don't really have buildings, but they have areas where you do certain things. Like bury your spores. Or eat clubbed mice. Or excrete clubbed mice. Or plan your revenge on those two legged things that dissected your friend. $\endgroup$ Jan 24, 2016 at 2:47

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