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Featured New Findings about the Evolution of Complex Cellular Life

  1. Jan 11, 2017 #1


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    Humans, other animals, plants, fungi and almost all other forms of complex, multi-cellular life are known as eukaryotes. How eukaryotes evolved from simpler prokaryotic organisms is a major question in evolutionary biology. The current view is that eukaryotes evolved from the fusion between a bacterium (which would eventually become the mitochondrion) and an archaeal host through a process called endosymbiosis. Until recently, the identity of the archaeal host had been mysterious. In 2015, a group of researchers led by Thijs Ettema and Lionel Guy in Sweden discovered lokiarchaeota, a phylum of archaea that shares many features with eukaryotes and was likely a close relative of the archaon that evolved into eukaryotes. Today, in the journal Nature, Ettema and co-workers report on the discovery of a larger superphylum of archaea related to lokiarchaeota, which sheds more light on the evolution of eukaryotes:
    Zaremba-Niedzwiedzka et al. 2017. Asgard archaea illuminate the origin of eukaryotic cellular complexity. Nature. Published online 11 January 2017. doi:10.1038/nature21031[/PLAIN] [Broken]

    Popular press summary: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/01/our-origins-in-asgard/512645/
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 11, 2017 #2


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    Very cool!
    I like the Asgard motif.

    I also like that the unseen thing is important.
    Kind of like the Denisovans. Similar to the Neanderthals but known only from DNA from a small finger bone (no whole fossils).
  4. Jan 12, 2017 #3


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    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  5. Jan 12, 2017 #4

    jim mcnamara

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    @DrClaude - the nature article is behind a paywall.

    This is a really interesting finding. Thanks. It also hints strongly at why we had not seen the link before.
  6. Jan 13, 2017 #5
    It is a real shame that Lynn Margullis has not lived long enough to see her bold proposal finally vindicated.
  7. Jan 13, 2017 #6


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    I think there was plenty of evidence before this to support her proposal. I would say she lived long enough to see her proposal become the main contender, and to the point where it is discussed in textbooks, eg. https://openstax.org/details/books/biology.
  8. Jan 14, 2017 #7
    You may be right. The orthodox neodarwinism was the only contender in my generation and it did not allow for any deviation from it. People like Margullis and Gould were deemed as anathema for the comunity.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2017
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