Even though people can’t see me, I’m an important part of Earth’s biosphere. Scientists who study ecology know that I was the first life form on Earth. There is more of my kind than any other plant or animal in the world. Without me, other plants and animals would not even exist. I am a protist, and my tiny body is made up of one single cell.
In my small world, things can be absolutely bizarre. Unlike most aquatic plants and animals, I don’t need a temperate climate. I have a very high tolerance for extreme conditions. Right now, I’m swimming around in a bucket of boiling water! The temperature is 150 degrees Celsius, but I feel comfortable. I have coarse hairs called cilia that help me swim around in here. I move my cilia in a repetitive motion for the duration of my swim. I cannot go very fast, though. It takes me about five minutes to swim a distance of just one millimeter!
When I get hungry, I look for tiny, vulnerable parasites. I swim up to one and swallow it whole. I digest things much like people do. I have an organ that works just like a human stomach. After I eat, I release nitrogen gas. Nitrogen is a prominent gas in the earth’s atmosphere. Other plants and animals need my nitrogen to survive.
My reproductive ability is my most unique trait. I don’t need a companion to mate with. Instead, I undergo a process called fission, where my own nucleus splits in half. An exact copy of my nucleus is made, which forms into another protist. It really is an impressive feat. I can create an infinite number of new protists all by myself!