A multidisciplinary team of scientists led by associate professor Kamran Shalchian-Tabrizi, head of the Microbial Evolution Research Group (MERG) at the University of Oslo, announced the results of their genetic, physical, and behavioral analysis of the oldest known life form on Earth at the University of Oslo web site on April 25, 2012. The research was reviewed in a press release at the Alpha Galileo web site on April 26, 2012.
The billion year old protozoan has been known to exist only in one small part of a lake in Ås Norway 30 kilometers south of Oslo since 1865 but has not been classified or completely analyzed until now due to the limitations of technology.
This life form is distinctively different from any other plant, animal, or any other form of life presently known and incorporates some of the attributes of both plant and animal cells. The organism has been given a new branch called Collodictyon in the “Tree of Life” due to the protozoa’s unique characteristics.
The protozoan has a nucleus, consumes green algae, is cannibalistic, and has four flagella.
The implications of this discovery cannot be overstated. This is the world’s oldest life form that is still living today. This life form is one billion years old. Both plant and animal portions of the protozoa’s genome have been shown to exist.
The continuing research may rewrite evolutionary thought and develop a genetically sound definition of the time frame that animal and plant cell life split from a common ancestor like the protozoan Collodictyon species.
The researchers photograph of the Collodictyon can be seen here.