The Atlantic: How a Guy From a Montana Trailer Park Overturned 150 Years of Biology

How a Guy From a Montana Trailer Park Overturned 150 Years of Biology – The Atlantic

“He was raised in a Montana trailer park, and home-schooled by what he now describes as a “fundamentalist cult.” At a young age, he fell in love with science, but had no way of feeding that love. He longed to break away from his roots and get a proper education.”

A German University gave Toby Spribille the opportunity he could not get in his native country.

“You’ve seen lichens before, but unlike Spribille, you may have ignored them.”

“In the [last] 150 years […] biologists have tried in vain to grow lichens in laboratories. Whenever they artificially united the fungus and the alga, the two partners would never fully recreate their natural structures. It was as if something was missing—and Spribille might have discovered it.”

“He has shown that largest and most species-rich group of lichens are not alliances between two organisms, as every scientist since Schwendener has claimed. Instead, they’re alliances between three. All this time, a second type of fungus has been hiding in plain view.”

“There’s been over 140 years of microscopy,” says Spribille. “The idea that there’s something so fundamental that people have been missing is stunning.”  

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