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Goeldi's monkey

Fungi are food for lots of different animals, including us. But did you know some monkeys like them too? In the forests of Bolivia, the diminutive Goeldi's monkey is a fungus connoisseur--up to half their diet can be fungal fruiting bodies. They're fans of a wood ear mushroom also eaten by humans (Auricularia spp., in the hot little hands of the monkey at left), and Ascopolyporus, a little-known bamboo parasite. Gorillas, chimps, and other primates also eat the occasional mushroom. So do Tasmanian bettongs. How do they know which ones are poisonous?

Hanson, A. M., K. T. Hodge, and L. M. Porter. 2003. Mycophagy in primates. The Mycologist 17:6-10.
Photo: Yasunori Sato