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Desert Diary
Biology/Bye, Animals


Ah, for the good old days when there were just animals and plants! They always told us that things were simpler "back when". True enough, but simpler doesn't necessarily mean correct. Since "back when", we've seen bacteria recognized as two very different kingdoms within a domain Prokaryota. And the plants and animals—the Eukaryota—divided up: algae and amoebas and the like went from being split into animals and plants to being recognized as a separate kingdom, the Protista; fungi, instead of being thought of as aberrant plants were recognized not only as a separate kingdom, but as more closely related to animals than plants.

Now comes another blow. The Society of Protistologists in its wisdom has decided that the kingdom Protista actually consists of four kingdoms out of six eukaryote kingdoms. And get this: in their new proposed system, our old familiar kingdoms Plantae and Animalia are no more; plants become the Archaeplastida and guess what? Animals and fungi are merged into a new kingdom, the Opisthokonta! We may never again hear cries of "You animal, you!!"
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Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest.


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.