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Science & Technology

Hiking scientist discovers bizarre new microbes

By T.K. Randall
November 18, 2018 · Comment icon 3 comments

Hemimastigotes were found in the soil of a Canadian forest. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Donar Reiskoffer
The organisms, which sit on a 'major new branch' of the tree of life, were found in woodland in Nova Scotia.
Discovered by Dalhousie University graduate student Yana Eglit, the microscopic creatures - which are known as hemimastigotes - are unlike anything else found in nature.

Originally described back in the 19th century, these strange microbes measure mere hundredths of a millimeter in length and are able to move around using hairs that protrude from their bodies.
When Eglit's Canadian woodland samples were examined under a microscope, it was discovered that some of the hemimastigotes she had found were actually a completely new species.

She has since named her discovery Hemimastix kukwesjijk.

Her findings are helping scientists to better understand and classify these mystifying microbes.

"This discovery literally redraws our branch of the 'tree of life' at one of its deepest points," said study lead author Alastair Simpson. "It opens a new door to understanding the evolution of complex cells -and their ancient origins - back well before animals and plants emerged on Earth."

Source: Independent | Comments (3)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Carlos Allende 5 years ago
There's just one thing I don't understand: is this a pun or a literal statement that accidentally _sounds_ like a pun?
Comment icon #2 Posted by Twin 5 years ago
I thought it was an optical illusion, but it turns out that it just looks like one.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Mike Fox 5 years ago
This is exactly the sort of discovery I have been expecting, and I think that more "new branches" will be found now that DNA analysis on trace samples is both quick and effective. I've long believed that if alien civilisations had ever visited earth, then "inadvertent passenger" organisms could have arrived with them, survived on the planet, and their descendents remain today, with DNA that has no earthly comparisons. While these organisms are almost certainly of earthly origin, I believe that this concept of seeking unrecognisable DNA could be an additional way of seeking extra-terrestrial li... [More]

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