A Chinese villager recently caught a strange-looking and mysterious creature during a routine fishing trip at the Tuo River in Sichuan province. The organism is believed to be “tasui,” a type of fungus that is described in ancient Chinese texts as having life-prolonging qualities.
The villager, surnamed Liang, was at a popular fishing spot where he had an unsuccessful afternoon. Before he was about to head home, he felt his fishing hook catch on something. He reeled it in and was surprised to see a large, yellow creature with a long tail and a round body. It was soft and could move. The organism weighed about 15 pounds and had black spots. The tail was nearly 12 inches long.
Sun Chun, a professor of microbiology at Sichuan University saw pictures of the organism and concluded that it was likely that the creature was tasui, but that DNA testing was needed in order to confirm that theory.
In the Compendium of Materia Medica, a book of Chinese medicine compiled in the 16th century, taisui is also known as rou lingzhi or “meat lingzhi mushroom.” The text states that consuming taisui can prolong a person’s life. It is reported that the fungus had been eaten by Qing dynasty emperors who believed it may bring them immortality.
While some biologists believe that taisui is a fungus, others believe it has complete cell structures and that it can carry out the process of metabolism.
However it is classified, it is definitely rare and can be sold at as much as $39,500 per .04 ounce in its dried form.
Stories about fisherman catching strange marine creatures from China’s rivers, lakes and the deep sea appear in the news from time to time. Just last year, a fisherman caught an octopus-like animal with hundreds of gangly thin arms. It was later identified to be a very rare basket star.