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A tiny microorganism found in Norwegian lake sludge may be related to the very oldest life forms on this planet, a possible modern cousin of our earliest common ancestor. It is not a fungus, alga, parasite, plant or animal, yet it has features associated with other kingdoms of life. It could be a founding member of the newest kingdom on the tree of life, scientists said.
Life on Earth is divided into two main groups, the prokaryotes and the eukaryotes. Prokaryotes are simple life forms, with no membranes or cell nuclei; this group includes bacteria and archaea. Eukaryotes, which include humans, animals, plants, fungi and algae, have cell membranes and nuclei. This new organism is a eukaryote.
The organism is weird in several key ways. It has four flagella, for instance, which makes it different from bacteria and eukaryotes. Mammals, fungi and amoebae only have one flagellum — that’s the propeller-like feature that helps cells move (think of the “tail” of a sperm cell). Algae, plants and single-celled parasites called excavates are thought to have had two flagella. Collodictyon is somewhere between an excavate and an amoeba.
Read more at PopSci.com.