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Before eukaryotes from their counterparts is the

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Before looking at the
appearance of eukaryotic fossils, we must first define what a eukaryote is. Eukaryotes
are one of the 3 major domains of life, the others being archaea and bacteria,
which are prokaryotes. What separates eukaryotes from their counterparts is the
existence of a membrane bound nucleus, a complex endomembrane system, and
organelles such as mitochondria and plastids. Eukaryotes are perhaps best known
for including in their domain multicellular organisms, including plants, as
well as animals. Looking back at the fossil record, we are able to learn about
the earliest eukaryotes, and consider questions such as how they came about,
how long ago, and the impact the development of eukaryotes had on life on
Earth. (Porter, 2004)

 

Due to the fossil record being
inconsistent, we are unable to provide exact historical dates as to when eukaryotes
emerged. However, the best estimates we have indicate that eukaryotic crown
groups would have originated 1200 million years ago, although perhaps as early
as 1700 million years. (Porter, 2004)

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We are also unsure of how
exactly eukaryotes came to be, as they are similar to archaea and Bacteria, but
also possess some specific characteristics. This being said, some theories regarding
the development of eukaryotes include the fusion of several prokaryotic cells,
or evolution from a proto-eukaryotic last common ancestor. (Javeaux, 2007)

 

Regardless of the way they
originated, eukaryotes have had a significant impact on diversity and life on
earth. Eukaryotes resulted in the diversity of microbial predators 750 million
years ago. As ecological theory predicts that diversity at one level of the
food web will cause diversity at lower levels, this abundance of microbial
predators may have fueled diversification as a whole. Additionally, the
emergence of eukaryotic organisms would have led to the emergence of sexual
reproduction, in turn allowing for greater genetic variation and evolution. (Porter,
2004)

 

Without a doubt, the emergence
of eukaryotic fossils is not only extremely interesting, but is also a
significant event for the diversity of life on planet Earth.

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