Ever hear of endosymbiosis?
This means that one cell is taking up residence in another cell. Kind of like those nested Matryoshka dolls.
This concept has always intrigued me but I only knew specifically of one example of this, albeit an important (and hypothetical) one. I’m referring to that seminal event in human evolutionary history when a specific type of bacterium (perhaps purple nonsulfur bacteria) was engulfed and devoured by another type of cell. Somehow, the bacterium survived the digestion process. Perhaps it had a mutation that that made it immune to digestion by certain cells, who knows.
Not only did it survive, the bacterium was able to provide a tremendous survival advantage by providing energy to the cell eventually becoming an indispensable part of it. Imagine eating a McDonalds Big Mac that refuses to be digested and hangs out in your gut giving you energy like a battery. I’m talking of course about the mitochondria that exist in every cell of your body.
As important as this example of endosymbiosis was to humans, another example from over 2 billion years ago was recently discovered that was an even bigger game changer for life on earth.
A recent paper in Nature intriguingly describes this event as resulting in a “totally different type of life on Earth”.
What these scientists from UCLA discovered was evidence for the fusion of two cells that, for the first time, produced double-walled cells in nature. This breakthrough in cell design evolution then led to cyanobacteria that were able to use photosynthesis to flood the earth with their nasty waste product known as oxygen.
UCLA molecular biologist James A. Lake siad:
“Higher life would not have happened without this event”
So, yeah, this was kind of an important event in the history of life on earth.
If you want to read the details, please go here.