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. More specifically, it’s an algae-eating protozoan, a type of creature that have been known to science since the Civil War but which have lacked genetic studies because they’re difficult to culture. Researchers in Norway were able to harvest them from a lake bed and breed them in the lab. This one is called Collodictyon.Researchers led by Kamran Shalchian-Tabrizi, head of the Microbial Evolution Research Group (MERG) at the University of Oslo, were examining the species’ genes and morphological makeup and found it is not like anything else. It evolved a billion years ago, give or take a couple hundred million years. It could have been living the same way since then, providing scientists a glimpse of what the earliest life forms looked like. 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. Also, the organism has the same internal structure as a parasite, but it uses amoeba-like protuberances to catch its food, which are blue-green algae. So again, it combines features from two branches of the eukaryotes, further evidence that it’s a primordial creature, the researchers say. Even at its highest levels, the tree of life is mutable — the domain archaea was only recognized in 1990. So it wouldn’t be out of the question for this organism to spark an entirely new kingdom.
Discoveries like this give me chills.
Are you still stuck for ideas for National Novel Writing Month? Or are you working on a novel at a more leisurely pace? Here are 102 resources on Character, Point of View, Dialogue,Plot, Conflict, Structure, Outlining,Setting, and World Building, plus some links to generate Ideas and Inspiration.
CHARACTER, POINT OF VIEW, DIALOGUE
Advantages, Disadvantages and Skills (character traits)
Family Echo (family tree website)
PLOT, CONFLICT, STRUCTURE, OUTLINE
SETTING, WORLD BUILDING
TOOLS and SOFTWARE
My Writing Nook (online text editor; free)
Bubbl.us (online mind map application; free)
Freemind (mind map application; free; Windows, Mac, Linux, portable)
XMind (mind map application; free; Windows, Mac, Linux, portable)
Liquid Story Binder (novel organization and writing software; free trial, $45.95; Windows, portable)
Scrivener (novel organization and writing software; free trial, $39.95; Mac)
SuperNotecard (novel organization and writing software; free trial, $29; Windows, Mac, Linux, portable)
yWriter (novel organization and writing software; free; Windows, Linux, portable)
JDarkRoom (minimalist text editor; free; Windows, Mac, Linux, portable)
AutoRealm (map creation software; free; Windows, Linux with Wine)
A student blows up at a teacher, drops the F-bomb. The usual approach at Lincoln – and, safe to say, at most high schools in this country – is automatic suspension. Instead, Sporleder sits the kid down and says quietly: “Wow. Are you OK? This doesn’t sound like you. What’s going on?”
He gets even more specific: “You really looked stressed. On a scale of 1-10, where are you with your anger?” The kid was ready. Ready, man! For an anger blast to his face….”How could you do that?” “What’s wrong with you?”…and for the big boot out of school. But he was NOT ready for kindness.
The armor-plated defenses melt like ice under a blowtorch and the words pour out: “My dad’s an alcoholic. He’s promised me things my whole life and never keeps those promises.” The waterfall of words that go deep into his home life, which is no piece of breeze, end with this sentence: “I shouldn’t have blown up at the teacher.” Whoa.” —
what a radical idea yo
Bam. Kids “misbehave” for actual, real, valid reasons. And have feelings.
For fuck’s sake, it takes the people in charge so long to figure shit like this out! Good for Lincoln High!