Page 10 - humanethology

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A study of the evolution of organic life - by Gerd Ney
Viruses are a species probably of the older cells; however, they are not always regarded as independent biological cells,
because they need a host for metabolic purposes and reproduction. It is a grey line, if they are biological cells or not, but
I think if some essential functions are ‘contracted out’, it may create a symbiosis, but this should not change the overall
view. This would support opinions to classify them as early predecessors or parallel developments of extremophile cells.
The oldest cell is probably RNA, which is capable to replicate and to store information (RNA world hypothesis). Such early
pre-cells differed hardly from matter. They were immobile and vegetating passively from surrounding minerals and gases
and the rays of the Sun, but they also showed signs of awareness, because they are the ones informing us about the
earliest elementary patterns relating to metabolic functions.
As independent and early biological cells are regarded Archaea with three sub groups (Crenarchaeota, Euryarchaeota and
Korachaeota) as most robust life form called extremophiles and probably are spread over the whole Galaxy.
The complexity and function of organs of the
Eukaryote cell has been copied at a later stage
by multicellular life. Microscopical viewing by
enlargements between only 100 and 1000 times
is in a way not exciting as the organs of a cell
don’t show yet the refinement. With modern
electronic microscopes we are revealing cell life in
a fascinating environment of its own. If enlarged
to the size of a house, for instance, we have to
change our opinion about a primitive stage of life.
Dr Michael Denton published a imaginative view of
such a scenario:
“What we would then see would be an object of
unparalleled complexity and adaptive design.
On the surface of the cell we would see millions
of openings, like portholes of a vast spaceship,
opening and closing to allow a continual stream of
materials flow in and out. If we were to enter one of
these openings we would find ourselves in a world
of supreme technology and bewildering complexity.
We would see endless highly organized corridors
and conduits branching in every direction away
from the perimeter of the cell, some leading to the
central memory bank in the nucleus and others to
assembly plants and processing units. The nucleus itself would be a large spherical chamber, resembling a geodesic dome inside of which we would
see , all neatly stacked together in ordered arrays, the many meters of coiled chains of DNA molecules. A huge range of products and raw materials
would shuffle along all the manifold conduits in a highly ordered fashion to and from all the various assembly plants in the outer region of the cell.
We would wonder at the level of control implicit in the movement of so many objects down so many seemingly endless conduits, all in perfect unison.
We would see all around us, in every direction we looked, all sorts of robot- like machines. We would notice that the simplest of the functional
components of the cell, the protein molecules, were astonishingly complex pieces of molecular machinery each one consisting of about 3000 atoms
arranged in highly organized 3-D spatial conformation. We would wonder even more as we watched the strangely purposeful activities of these weird
molecular machines, particularly when we realized that, despite all our accumulated knowledge of physics and chemistry, the task of designing one
such molecular machine - that is one functional protein molecule – would be completely beyond our capacity at present and will not be achieved
until at least at the beginning of the next century. Yet the life of the cell depends on the integrated activities of thousands, certainly tens, and probably
hundreds of thousands of different molecules.
We would see that nearly every feature of our own advanced machines had its analogue in the cell: artificial languages and their decoding systems,
memory banks for information storage and retrieval, elegant control systems regulating the automated assembly of parts and components, error
fail-safe and proof-reading devices utilized for quality control, assembly processes involving the principle of prefabrication and modular construction.
In fact so deep would be the feeling deja-vu, so persuasive the analogy, that much of the terminology we would use to describe this fascinating
molecular reality would be borrowed from the world of the late twentieth century technology.
…… However, it would be a factory which would have one capacity not equalled in any of our own most advanced machines, for it would be capable
of replicating its entire structure within a matter of a few hours………….” He resumes that Darwin may have had second thoughts to write his
observations down if he would have known about the perfection of the Eukaryote cell.