Newly Discovered: Explosive ‘Dune Sandworm’ Fungus Unveiled by Scientists



Scientists Discover New Fungus Species and Name It After Dune Sandworms

Scientists Discover New Fungus Species and Name It After Dune Sandworms

Scientists have recently identified and named a new species of fungus after the monstrous giant sandworms from the iconic science fiction novel series Dune. The newly discovered fungus, named Tulostoma shaihuludii, is one of four species that have been described in a study published in the journal MycoKeys.

Newly Identified Fungus Species

All of these newly discovered fungi belong to the Tulostoma genus, known as stalked puffballs. The other identified species are Tulostoma dunense, Tulostoma hungaricum, and Tulostoma sacchariolens. These fungi produce small, spherical fruiting bodies on the end of stalks, releasing a cloud of dust-like spores into the air when fully mature. Fungal spores are microscopic biological agents that allow fungi to reproduce. Many puffball fungi, including Tulostoma species, rely on mechanical pressure for spore release, such as trampling by animals or the wind, as they have lost the ability to forcibly discharge spores themselves.

Discovery in the Pannonian Steppe

These four newly described stalked puffball species were documented in sandy areas of the Pannonian Steppe, which includes various grassland ecosystems across countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The species were discovered based on samples collected in Hungary over a span of 25 years. Notable features among the species include the fragrant nature of Tulostoma sacchariolens, the world’s smallest Tulostoma hungaricum, and the distinctive curved stalk of Tulostoma shaihuludii. The researchers chose the name Tulostoma shaihuludii due to its sandy habitat resemblance to the “Shai-Hulud” sandworms from the fictional desert planet Arrakis in the Dune series.

Relation to ‘Dune’ Sandworms

In the Dune series, the sandworms of the desert planet are colossal, worm-like creatures attracted to rhythmic sounds and known for their aggression. They play a key role in the series as their larvae produce a valuable commodity known as “spice,” essential for safe interstellar travel in the Dune universe.

Significance of the Discovery

The discovery underscores the importance of fungi in our ecosystems and emphasizes the remarkable biodiversity within the fungal kingdom. The habitat in Hungary has been identified as a hot spot for stalked puffball fungi, and the study further highlights the diversity of these fungi. It is assumed that there are many more unrecorded Tulostoma species in Central Europe waiting to be discovered, proving that there is still much to learn about the world of fungi.


With the naming of Tulostoma shaihuludii after the sandworms in the Dune series, this discovery not only contributes to the scientific understanding of fungi but also pays homage to the fantastical creatures immortalized in literature. The link between science and fiction in this instance demonstrates the incredible and unexpected ways in which our understanding of the natural world can intersect with cultural influences.



Micheal Kurt

I earned a bachelor's degree in exercise and sport science from Oregon State University. He is an avid sports lover who enjoys tennis, football, and a variety of other activities. He is from Tucson, Arizona, and is a huge Cardinals supporter.

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