The Foraminifera, according to our breakfast conversation, is ancient — perhaps 600 million years old or older, Sam Bowser thinks. There are fossilized examples of “foram-type” creatures (single-cell creatures which use pseudopods to gather sandgrains to themselves, and form protective mineral casings) which date back to 580 million years ago. The forams are now classified in the Rhizarian branch of the revised tree of life model. Jack Harris asked if any of us had heard of a certain poem about amoebas, and he recited a couple lines from memory — which was enough for me to locate the poem in a quick google search. Here it is, a real gem!
ODE TO THE AMOEBA
Recall from Time’s abysmal chasm
That piece of primal protoplasm
The First Amoeba, strangely splendid,
From whom we’re all of us descended.
That First Amoeba, weirdly clever,
Exists today and shall forever,
Because he reproduced by fission;
He split himself, and each division
And subdivision deemed it fitting
To keep on splitting, splitting, splitting;
So, whatsoe’er their billions be,
All, all amoebas still are he.
Zoologists discern his features
In every sort of breathing creatures,
Since all of every living species,
No matter how their breed increases
Or how their ranks have been recruited,
From him alone were evoluted.
King Solomon, the Queen of Sheba
And Hoover sprang from that amoeba;
Columbus, Shakespeare, Darwin, Shelley
Derived from that same bit of jelly.
So famed is he and well-connected,
His statue ought to be erected,
For you and I and William Beebe
Are undeniably amoebae!