Onygena corvina (Vogelveerzwam (BE) / Feather Stalkball (EN) / Gewöll-Hornpilz (DE) / ? (FR)) is a species of fungus in the Onygenaceae family.
The species has a realy particular ecology: it lives as saprophyte on horns, hooves, feathers and animal hair. This particular form of saprotrophic nutrition (using keratinous substrates) is called "keratinophylic". Keratin is the key structural material making up the outer layer of human skin. It is also the key structural component of hair and nails. Keratin monomers assemble into bundles to form intermediate filaments, which are tough and insoluble and form strong unmineralized tissues found in birds (feathers), reptiles, , amphibians, and mammals (nails and hoofs). This material is very strong, insoluble and so very difficult to digest. This fungus-species is one of the few specialists that have the capability digesting keratin.
But because the species is specialised in infecting keratin it can be realy dangerous to touch the species: our fingernails are mostly made of translucent keratin !
In the image the species grows on a pellet. A pellet, in ornithology, is the mass of undigested parts of a bird's food that some bird species occasionally regurgitate. The contents of a bird's pellet depend on its diet, but can include the exoskeletons of insects, indigestible plant matter, bones, fur, feathers, bills, claws, and teeth.
Typical fruiting bodys are between 5-20 mm in hight.
Image: Schoten (BE) - 12/10/2010
© Johan Dierckx
The photos on this site are copyrighted, which prohibits anyone to use them to sell, give away, use in email or newsgroups, use in a homepage or otherwise showing to the public without my explicit, prior, written permission. Please feel free to use the "contact"-button below to contact me with any questions.
All species are photographed in their natural habitat, without cutting or capturing them, and with maximal respect and the least possible disturbance to the environment.
(To see species in the same taxonomic rank (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus), please use the tags provided with the image. The last tag is the Iso-code for the country where the image was taken. Image-date in DD/MM/YYYY format.)
Please feel free to visit my personal website http://www.diversitasnaturae.be/