Analysis of a grass plant from 100 million years ago, perfectly preserved in an amber block, shows that the dinosaurs got high on prehistoric LSD. This discovery was made by scientists from Oregon State University. They found that the ancient grass was infected by parasitic fungi which contained the substance LSD.
The fungi were similar to today's ergot (one of them being Claviceps purpurea), which are used to make the drug and served as inspiration for some of the craziest songs by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones from the last century.
Analysis of the plant revealed a closed food chain between the fungus, grass and animals which had been eating the plants for millions of years.
Head of the research team that made the discovery was doctor of botany George Poinar. The prehistoric plant was found in South Burma. Based on their knowledge of the effects of ergot on today's animals, those being hallucinations, delirium, convulsions and stumbling, scientists are attempting to determine the effects of the ancient parasitic fungi on the many-ton reptiles.
Using carbon dating, the scientists have found that the prehistoric grass lived about 97 million years ago from the beginning to the mid Cretaceous, when the Earth was still dominated by dinosaurs and coniferous trees. It was then that the earliest flowering plants, grasses and small mammals began developing. From the fossil, it is clear that the fungus primarily affected herbaceous plants.
Poinar is of the opinion that parasitic fungi came to be with the appearance of herbaceous plants.
“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 stated in his report.
In human history, Claviceps purpurea is known for causing delirium, irrational behavior, convulsions, severe pain, gangrenous limbs and death. During the Middle Ages, this parasitic fungi led to the death of thousands of people when it infected the rye used to produce bread.
Ergot was also used as an abortion-inducing drug. Some researchers also point to ergot as a main cause of the Salem witch trials in the 17th century.
They believe that those accused of witchcraft had actually ingested the potent hallucinogen with their bread. The horrible irony is the proven fact that the parasitic fungus was also used for interrogation of the women who were alleged to be witches in order to make them talk.