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← Rare Protozoan from Sludge in Norwegian Lake Does Not Fit On Main Branches of Tree of Life

Opisthokont's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by Opisthokont

Wow -- that article is a textbook example of how not to do science writing. I felt like I was supposed to be eight years old. Even eight-year-olds dislike that feeling.

As for the science: well, yes, Richard has it right. The article does explain that prokaryotes and eukaryotes are different things, but only after several squinchingly condescending paragraphs. They don't even tell us the name of the organism (it's Collodictyon). And there's no link to the original research or to any of the researchers or institutions involved (though at least you can Google their names, unlike that of Collodictyon!).

And yes, it's overhyped. My lab has collaborated with Shalchian-Tabrizi on it, and it's an exciting thing to try to make sense of, but I don't think any of us would be comfortable with half of the sensationalism that was in that piece. The world is a complicated place. Collodictyon is exciting precisely because we know so little about it and its lineage. The problem with pieces like this is that they fail to impress upon the reader that that uncertainty -- which has actually not been much reduced by this work -- only makes its subject more exciting to us! This thing is a mystery, and we're slowly working out what to make of it, but the story is far from over.

Fri, 27 Apr 2012 14:15:58 UTC | #937733