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Onygena corvina

Posted by
Johan Dierckx (Wijnegem, Belgium) on 8 December 2010 in Plant & Nature and Portfolio.

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

Canon EOS 400D 1/10 second F/8.0 ISO 200 150 mm

© 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/

Loner from Wörgl, Austria

Schon wieder so ein besonderer Pilz und ein besonderes Foto ! Ich habe in Wikipedia gelesen, daß es sich hier um eine seltene Art handelt aber ein Spezialist wie du, findet das natürlich. Ich wünsche einen schönen, restlichen Advent.

8 Dec 2010 4:41pm

¨‘°ºO Dutçh Oº°‘¨ from Neverwhere, United States

How have you been Johan? I've been sifting your gallery since I haven't visited in a while and I have to say that you have a 4 star rating on your recents as a whole collection. Some of them are 10's! You really are finding a more artistic method for documenting your species and I think that is fantastic. Keep it up!

8 Dec 2010 5:04pm

Marilla from Turku, Finland

Beautiful fungi! I like the compact 'package' and the DOF is great.

9 Dec 2010 9:51am

Christine from Duns, United Kingdom

A lovely cluster

10 Dec 2010 6:29pm

Copperweaver from Elmira, OR, United States

Beautiful images. I am curious if there would be a safe way to use this fungus to decompose wool. I am a fiber artist and I sometimes end up with lots of wool that is beyond use in the fiber arts. I have wondered if there an efficient means of composting the wool, but have not yet conducted any experiments. I can see how dangerous it would be to infect yourself with this fungi, thanks for the warning. Your description of Onygena corvina is the best I have found on the internet so far. And all of your images are among the best Fungi photography I have seen anywhere, so thanks for sharing.

19 Dec 2011 8:38pm

@Copperweaver: Thank you very much for your comment on this image and the compliments for my fungi-series. I can't help you with the problem you have regarding the decomposing of wool, but I should not try this particular fungus for it ... too dangerous to get infected yourself I think. Maybe you can consult a mushroom-expert in your neighbourhood to help you out ? Hope you can find a good solution ! Greetz !

Canon EOS 400D
1/10 second
ISO 200
150 mm