Humankind’s remotest relative is a very rare micro-organism from south-Norway. The discovery may provide an insight into what life looked like on earth almost one thousand million years ago… “We have found an unknown branch of the tree of life that lives in this lake. It is unique! So far we know of no other group of organisms that descend from closer to the roots of the tree of life than this species. It can be used as a telescope into the primordial micro-cosmos,” says an enthusiastic associate professor, Kamran Shalchian-Tabrizi, head of the Microbial Evolution Research Group (MERG) at the University of Oslo…
Life on Earth can be divided up into two main groups of species, prokaryotes and eukaryotes. The prokaryote species, such as bacteria, are the simplest form of living organisms on Earth. They have no membrane inside their cell and therefore no real cell nucleus. Eukaryote species, such as animals and humankind, plants, fungi and algae, on the other hand do.
The family tree of the protozoan from the lake starts at the root of the eukaryote species.
“The micro-organism is among the oldest, currently living eukaryote organisms we know of. It evolved around one billion years ago, plus or minus a few hundred million years. It gives us a better understanding of what early life on Earth looked like,” Kamran says…
More– including how newly-developed techniques in genetic analysis enabled the “decoding” of the organism, first discovered in the mis-Nineteenth Century, and how the protozoa might be useful in purifying drinking water– in this article in Science Daily.
As we marvel at the miracle of mutation, we might recall that it was on this date in 1887 that “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show,” including “the selected representatives of several nations, including the Sioux, the Cheyennes, and the Pawnees,” sharpshooter Annie Oakley, and Colonel William F Cody– Buffalo Bill– himself, opened in London. As The (London) Times reported:
Its great object is to illustrate the wild life of the Western frontier–its Indians and cowboys, its buffalo-huntings and cattle-ranches, its pioneering and its horsemanship, its dangers and its joys.
And so, for nearly a year, it did.