Were Dinosaurs on LSD?

By Victoria Kim 02/17/15

Dinosaurs may have eaten hallucinogenic plants containing the same chemicals as LSD.

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The fungus that LSD is derived from has coexisted with dinosaurs for millions of years, new research has found.

A perfectly preserved amber fossil of a grass specimen that dates back 97 to 100 million years ago to the Cretaceous period, when a wide variety of dinosaurs roamed the Earth, was found in Myanmar. The fossil, which is the earliest grass specimen ever discovered, was topped by a fungus similar to ergot, a toxin and a hallucinogen.

Lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD, was first synthesized by Albert Hofmann in 1938 from ergotamine, a chemical derived from ergot. The researchers note in their report that “few fungi have had a greater historical impact on society than ergot.” More than 1,000 compounds have been extracted or derived from the grain fungus, some of them valuable drugs.

The discovery of the fossil suggests that the fungus has been around about as long as grass itself, coexisting for millions of years with the grasses it lived on and animals that ate grass, which include dinosaurs.

“It seems like ergot has been involved with animals and humans almost forever, and now we know that this fungus literally dates back to the earliest evolution of grasses,” said George Poinar Jr., an expert on the life-forms found in amber and a faculty member with the Oregon State University College of Science.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that it would have been eaten by sauropod dinosaurs, although we can’t know what exact effect it had on them,” he added.

The research conducted by researchers from Oregon State University, the USDA Agricultural Research Service and Germany was published online this month in the journal Paleodiversity.

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