We Are Russian Dolls

matroshka.jpgOver at the Origins blog at Science, I follow up on my essay on the evolution of eukaryotes with a look at a new paper that suggests we are, ultimately, microbes within microbes within microbes. Check it out.

[Image: Wikipedia]

0 thoughts on “We Are Russian Dolls

  1. This reminds me of a Gaia Theory-related notion: That on a fundamental level the various cells and their functions inside any one individual’s body are analogous to that individual’s role in the surrounding environment at large, a transport or manipulating vessel for mass and energy. Distinguishing one life form from another becomes a blurry business. Then you can’t definitively identify the boundary between organisms, rather they blend into the various components of a single organism.

    Just a random bit of food for thought I guess.

  2. And the pattern persists…

    This is an idea I’ve thought about for decades, ever since it was first pointed out that mitochondria within eukaryotes (for example) may originally have been independent bacteria-like organisms that established residency within larger microbes (through ingestion or by invasion, it matters little in the end) and found the accomodations of that environment tolerable, if not agreeable. It certainly automatically offered another layer of protection against the external slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

    A completely dispassionate and preconception-free alien visiting the Earth today would note that the basic naked human unit habitually ensconces itself within a vast range of both sedentary and mobile “garments”, from houses and buildings and cities to cars, trains, planes and spacecraft, all of them modularly designed to extend the reach and capacity of the basic unit and support them to perform tasks which in turn supports the metabolism of that vastly greater critter those units call “civilization.”

    Which is why I often regard Los Angeles as “Locust Land” (especially while sitting in a nominal traffic jam). Everybody knows that people put their cars on to commute, and when they do, the resulting creature that runs along rubber tires on prepared pathways is something else. What’s a “human”? That question depends on what they happen to be occupying at any given moment.

  3. I first came across this idea in Keith’s Skene’s amzing book “Shadows on the Cave Wall: A New Theory of Evolution, where is sets out the idea that the Eukaryote is merely a disease symptom of infection, along with a whole host of even more radical thoughts on evolution.

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