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Cyanobacteria
Author(s):
(unknown)
Institution:
University of California Museum of Paleontology
Year:
(unknown)
URL:
http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/bacteria/cyanointro.html
Project Description:
Cyanobacteria are aquatic and photosynthetic, that is, they live in the water, and can manufacture their own food. Because they are bacteria, they are quite small and usually unicellular, though they often grow in colonies large enough to see. They have the distinction of being the oldest known fossils, more than 3.5 billion years old, and in fact, cyanobacteria are still around; they are one of the largest and most important groups of bacteria on earth.

The cyanobacteria have been tremendously important in shaping the course of evolution and ecological change throughout earth's history. The oxygen atmosphere that we depend on was generated by numerous cyanobacteria during the Archaean and Proterozoic Eras. Before that time, the atmosphere had a very different chemistry, unsuitable for life as we know it today. The other great contribution of the cyanobacteria is the origin of plants. The chloroplast with which plants make food for themselves is actually a cyanobacterium living within the plant's cells.

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Manuel Lima | VisualComplexity.com