Are there any documented cases of extinction of a species of fungus? I imagine it would be hard to detect something like this.

Edit: documented by humans when it happened and/or induced by humans.

  • $\begingroup$ Why should it be hard to detect? $\endgroup$
    – Jam
    Jul 22, 2019 at 23:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Jam Fungi are composed of soft tissue, which breaks down easily and quickly. The conditions to preserve such tissue occur even more rarely than the already rare conditions for fossilizing bone. $\endgroup$ Jul 22, 2019 at 23:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Jam 99 % or so of funguses are below ground and more or less microscopic. $\endgroup$
    – d-b
    Jul 22, 2019 at 23:07

2 Answers 2


According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List there are many endangered fungi, but none that are documented to have become extinct within the time frame of interest to you.

However, it seems likely that some fungi have gone extinct with their plant hosts — according to the IUCN there have been 133 documented extinctions of plant species. In particular, mycorrhizal1 (and other) associations between plants and fungi are prevalent and some of these associations appear to be specific (i.e. the fungus only associates with one plant species). For example, there are reported to be 28 species of fungi that only associate with the shrub Lantana camara.2


1: Hoeksema, J. D., Bever, J. D., Chakraborty, S., Chaudhary, V. B., Gardes, M., Gehring, C. A., ... & Lajeunesse, M. J. (2018). Evolutionary history of plant hosts and fungal symbionts predicts the strength of mycorrhizal mutualism. Communications biology, 1(1), 116.

2: Hawksworth, D. L., & Rossman, A. Y. (1997). Where are all the undescribed fungi?. Phytopathology, 87(9), 888-891.


Yes. One example is of a fungus named Prototaxites. It was originally thought to be a tree, but it was a massive, tree-like fungus.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "documented by humans when it happened and/or induced by humans" does not really match with "approximately 430 to 360 million years ago" though $\endgroup$
    – eis
    Jul 23, 2019 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ @eis I believe that the OP added that in an edit to their question after I provided my answer. $\endgroup$ Jul 23, 2019 at 21:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I don't think that is true - based on timestamps, edit was made 20:11:08 and you answered 22:43:23. $\endgroup$
    – eis
    Jul 24, 2019 at 5:37
  • $\begingroup$ @eis Well, I must have missed the edit... ::shrugs:: $\endgroup$ Jul 25, 2019 at 4:08

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