Ed Yong is an award winning British science writer, journalist and blogger who gets to the heart of discussions on the most important ideas in science today. His recent article The Unique Merger That Made You (and Ewe, and Yew) is a made for us discussion of that event occurring over a billion years ago (at least – more likely two billion) that formed the most basic unit from which all plant and animal life has sprung; the eukaryotic cell. We see cells evolve and change all the time, the Prokaryotes which are still around, do so in myriad ways, none of which we have had the privilege of seeing change into a eukaryote.
So what happened on that day so long ago? What made a nucleus (or a prokaryote) decide to join up with an external microscopic alien cell containing mitochondrial DNA, collecting or evolving other structures to form the first Eukaryotes? Or perhaps it was two prokaryotes merging or one entering the other.. We may never know however, the event forever changed the face of our planet, yielding enormously diverse forms of life – plants and animals blanketing the land and seas with color and purpose.