Say hello to the Collodictyon – a creature that’s like nothing else on Earth. This strange-looking critter, first named in 1865, is the subject of a recent genetic analysis by researchers at the University of Oslo, and the results are getting biologists in a bit of a twist.
The micro-organism, found at the bottom of a Norwegian lake, isn’t a fungus, alga, parasite, plant or animal. This means that it may need its own branch on the tree of life, somewhere between amoebas and a type of single-celled parasite called excavates.
It’s hoped that this organism may help scientists to understand what early life on Earth looked like around a billion years ago.
Image credit: UiO/MERG
In this month's Focus, on sale now, we take an in-depth look at the origin of life, exploring where it came from and how it evolved.