SpongeBob SquarePants lives

SpongeBob SquarePants apparently lives not under the sea but under a tree in a rainforest according to researchers.

They are referring to a new species of bright orange mushroom shaped like the famous cartoon character. Spongiform squarepantsii was found in the island of Borneo in 2010 and featured in May’s issue of the journal Mycologia.

Marine biologist and animator Stephen Hillenburg created the character of SpongeBob Squarepants who dwells in the undersea city of “Bikini Bottom.” The character and many others in the hit animated series is based on Hillenburg’s research of anthromorphic forms of ocean life.

The newly-discovered mushroom meanwhile resembles its underwater namesake under a scanning electron microscope. It is shaped just like a sponge with a spore-producing area that looks like a seafloor filled in tube sponges unlike the common cap-and-stem forms of many other fungi.

“It’s just like a sponge with these big hollow holes,” Dennis Desjardin of San Francisco State University said. “When it’s wet and moist and fresh, you can wring water out of it and it will spring back to its original size. Most mushrooms don’t do that.”

Scientists explained that the rubbery texture and sponge form of the new species resembling SpongeBob SquarePants allows it to absorb moisture from the air when it dries out. Genetic examination revealed that the Bornean species is distinct from the other member of the Spongiforma genus found in Thailand.

Unlike SpongeBob SquarePants the animated character, the adventures of the new mushroom species remains in terra firma, deep in the thick forests of Borneo.

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