Title text: Evolutionarily speaking, mushrooms are technically a type of ghost.
Cueball is looking at a mushroom, contemplating how weird they are, when Megan adds another layer to their weirdness by supplying the trivia that evolutionarily, mushrooms (which are basidiomycete fungi) are closer to the animal kingdom than to plants on the tree of life. (Note that, technically, mushrooms themselves are only the fruiting bodies of the fungi. A mushroom is only part of a fungus, in the same way an apple is only part of a tree. The majority of the fungus grows beneath the soil, in a part of the fungus called the mycelium, which is composed of root-like structures called hyphae.)
Both animals and fungi are part of the opisthokont group of eukaryotic organisms, while plants are in the archaeplastida group of eukaryotic organisms with the green and red algae. This surprises Cueball, as he, like many people, is likely to think of mushrooms as plants, as they are "grown" just like other crops. Even scientists, before the 1960s, considered fungi to be 'plants'; it took DNA-based studies in the 1990s and 2000s to 'seal the deal' and place the fungi with the animals, and not the plants. But fungi do not perform photosynthesis, and therefore do not need sunlight to grow. Instead, they get their energy from other living matter, either live (parasitic mushrooms) or dead (e.g. manure; saprobic mushrooms). Edible mushrooms like Agaricus bisporus (or white mushroom) are saprobes, farmed in caves. The body plans of fungi are also utterly unlike those of plants. There are a few plants that don't do photosynthesis, such as the parasitic flowering plant Monotropa uniflora. But these plants otherwise look like, and are built like, plants, and don't look or grow at all like fungi. Ironically, many plants, both photosynthetic and nonphotosynthetic, depend on root-associated (mycorrhizal) fungi for their survival and growth.
Megan then walks away, and Cueball, after pondering the mushroom a while further, gets up and walks away too. But as soon as Cueball has his back turned the mushroom growls after him. Cueball spins around to look back at the now again silent mushroom. This is a bit of absurdist humor; while mushrooms are technically more animal-like than plant-like, they are still so far removed from animals they wouldn't have any of the body parts needed to growl. For that matter, most animals lack the parts needed to growl. Cueball's shock and astonishment is quite justified, and maybe it was just his imagination running wild after Megan's trivia. The reader is left to wonder what Cueball's next move will be - especially, those readers who have ever felt, or indulged, the urge to stomp mushrooms.
Another interpretation of the mushroom's growling is that mushrooms might be "fake" animals disguising as plants. The mushroom seems to be a plant, and acts very plantlike until Cueball looks away. The mushroom might have growled because it was planning on killing Cueball in a sort of "kill the witnesses" action. This comic might be hinting that mushrooms are evil and plotting the downfall of humanity under the disguise of "harmless" plants. Or, simply, mushrooms want to mess with other living things.
The title text takes this further, by stating that mushrooms are technically a type of ghost. Maybe because they arise from decaying remains. The title text may also refer to 1240: Quantum Mechanics or 1475: Technically, suggesting caution when dealing with a statement preceded by "technically." It may also refer to the other name of Monotropa uniflora, "ghost plant" which hosts are certain fungi.
The title text might also refer to the behavior of ghosts (called Boos) in the Super Mario series, in that they only act or move when the player is facing away, as does the growling mushroom.
- [Cueball is squatting in front of a group of four mushrooms (two tiny, one small and one large), touching the top of the nearest and largest mushroom with a finger. This mushroom has several small dots, which becomes more visible in later panels. The other three mushrooms do not appear to have these dots. Megan is standing behind him looking on.]
- Cueball: Mushrooms are so weird.
- Megan: You know, evolutionarily, they're closer to being animals than to plants.
- [Megan starts walking away as Cueball now leans on the ground with the hand he touched the mushroom with. Only the large mushroom is visible in this and the rest of the panels.]
- Cueball: ...Really?
- Megan: Yup!
- [In a frame-less panel Cueball still squats in front of the mushroom, now resting his hand on his knees.]
- [Cueball stands up looking down at the mushroom.]
- [Cueball is walking away as the mushroom makes a sound indicated with several small lines emanating from the top of the mushroom along with a regular speech line.]
- Mushroom: Grrrr
- [Cueball snaps around to look at the mushroom again, standing in a prepared state arms slightly out and legs spread out as well.]
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