A Walk Through Time

Life Styles Of The Little

3400 Million Years Ago

As the thickest and oldest parts of the continents form, microbes experiment with various lifestyles. Those who take up swimming explore habitats, moving with grace from meal to meal. Many microbes pursue colonial life styles, huge populations mixing with one another for food and flexible gene exchange.

Microbes also experiment with multicellular lifestyles, some forming complexes eerily like trees and other organisms of our familiar landscape.

Top, mid-right and bottom: Bacteria practice many colony styles. (Photography by Norbert Pfenning, top; Lynn Margulis, mid-right; and Elisabeth Gong-Collins, bottom)

Mid-left: This myxobacterium practices the aggregate "tree" habit as a way to hang out and hang on through nutrient and water scarcities. When resources rebound, this fancy microbe drops "melon"-like pseudo fruits, releasing thousands of bacteria to procreate and recreate. (Photograph by Hans Reichenbach)

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