Why Lichen is THE COOLEST

Okay maybe it's just me??! Get ready for the most niche list ever composed
  1. When scientists first investigated lichen (which grew on many surfaces with no apparent means of nourishment or seeds), they believed they were observing the process of stone morphing into vascular plant
    Like all trees were born from rocks or something? This was the big hunch of the early 1800s
  2. Now that might seem absurd, but for a long time there was no obvious explaination of how this growth was accessing nutrients and could survive on so many different surfaces
    In some ways those scientists were not far off, as lichens on rocks slowly acidify and disrupt the minerals to metabolize them
  3. Lichen is actually a symbiotic relationship between algae or cyanobacteria and fungus. Fungi excreted acid to dissolve the hosts surface, while the algae converts it to food. This makes lichens their own self contained ecosystems!!!!
  4. It is estimated that 6% of the Earth's surface is covered in lichen. They can live in the most extreme environments like the Arctic and Antarctic tundras and even INSIDE rocks!!!
    There are about 20,000 identified species which is estimated to be only about 2% of lichen species on Earth
  5. Some lichens are considered to be among the longest living organisms (around 9,000 years old!!!!). They are so slow growing that it can take a full year for a half millimeter of growth (roughly 50 years for a square inch of growth)
    Every piece of lichen that is the size of your palm or bigger has likely been kicking for hundreds if not thousands of years
  6. Lichens are super sensitive to atmospheric pollution, so they can be used to monitor air quality. Also, they can be used to monitor historic flood levels and other events because of their slow and steady growth rates (COOL)
  7. So in my humble opinion the most underrated day to day sighting in nature
    This little smiley face could have been in the making for hundreds of years!!!! There is no telling what he has seen