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January 1 2013

Archaebacteria: The Third Domain of Life Missed by Biologists for Decades

Early natural philosophers held that life on the earth is fundamentally dichotomous: all living things are either animals or plants. When microorganisms were discovered, they were di­vided in the same way. The large and motile ones were considered to be ani­mals and the ones that appeared not to move, including the bacteria, were con­sidered to be plants. As understanding of the microscopic world advanced it became apparent that a simple twofold classification would not suffice, and so additional categories were introduced: fungi, protozoa and bacteria. Ultimate­ly, however, a new simplification took hold. It seemed that life might be dichot­omous after all, but at a deeper level, namely in the structure of the living cell.

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