Neil deGrasse Tyson Has Questions About Animals Eating Psychedelic Mushrooms And People Tripping On Infected Cicadas
Neil deGrasse Tyson has a lot of questions about psychedelic mushrooms—including whether non-human animals willingly partake in the experience and whether eating enough cicadas infected by hallucinogenic fungi would create a psychoactive effect. The astrophysicist had a wide-ranging conversation on mushrooms and psychedelics during an episode of his podcast StarTalk that was posted last week. Merlin Sheldrake, a biologist who specializes in fungi, joined the discussion and fielded a number of trippy questions from Tyson and viewers. “Do you think mushrooms would have been a part of early animal diets?” Tyson asked Sheldrake. “Yeah, for sure,” he said. “I mean, I don’t see why animals would neglect these nutritious, delicious organisms growing up within easy reach.” Tyson followed up to ask, “Would an animal knowingly, an animal not human, knowingly eat a mushroom that has psychedelic properties?”
The science isn’t settled on that topic, but Sheldrake said there have been accounts of dogs watching their human partners pick psychedelic mushrooms and then eating them. They would then “appear to be under the influence,” he said. Reports of cats indulging are less common, though the expert said there has been at least one story of a feline “that repeatedly ate its owner’s psychedelic mushrooms.” “See, I think cats are always eating mushrooms based on behavior patterns that I’ve seen,” Tyson said. Later, the conversation turned to cicadas, which the scientist pointed out have infiltrated parts of the U.S. this year. While Tyson said he committed previously to eating three cicadas, Sheldrake cautioned against overindulging because the bugs, when infected by certain fungi, can produce psilocybin or an amphetamine. “If you eat enough of them, then you might start feeling stranger than you realize,” he said.
“That’s a good heads up there, thank you,” Tyson said. Sheldrake caveated that…