Single-celled organism human`s most distant relative

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Baku, May 8 (AZERTAC). Scientists have declared that a microscopic algae-eater, found in a lake in Norway two decades ago, is one of the world`s oldest living organisms and human`s remotest relative, and has been announced as a new genus called Collodictyon.

The researchers believe that the single-celled organism evolved about a billion years ago and did not fit in any of the known categories of living organisms – it was not an animal, plant, parasite, fungus or alga.

Dr Kamran Shalchian-Tabrizi, from the University of Oslo, who conducted the study, said: “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 descends from closer to the roots of the tree of life than this species.”

Collodictyon – which is 30 to 50 micrometres long (and thus can only be seen under a microscope) and has four flagella – tail-like propellers it uses to move around – was discovered in the sediment of a small lake called Ås, 30km south of Oslo.

Professor Dag Klaveness, who bred millions of the tiny organisms for the study, said: “They are not sociable creatures. They flourish best alone. Once they have eaten the food, cannibalism is the order of the day. They have not been found anywhere but in Lake Ås.”

Shalchian-Tabrizi added: “It is quite fascinating that we can still find these kinds of organisms after so many years. It has been outside our living rooms for millions of years and we haven`t seen it.”

It is hoped that the researchers will now be able to infer what prehistoric eukaryotes looked like by using their knowledge of the characteristics of Collodictyon.


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