Say What?


\OZ-moh-trofe\ n.

10:29am, March 13, 2014

BALANCING ACT  Early multicellular organisms that relied on nutrients diffusing into their bodies to eat may have been precursors to animals.

View the video

An organism that eats by osmosis, relying on nutrients diffusing into its body from a higher concentration in its environment.

About 550 million years ago, ambitious aquatic fronds began growing taller and tapped into more nutrient-rich water than found at the seafloor surface. Researchers simulated fluid flow over early multicellular osmo-trophs, which may be early precursors to animals, and found that taller fronds absorbed more nutrients.

The fronds grew up to 2 meters tall at a time when oxygen levels were just beginning to rise on Earth, setting the stage for more complex life to follow, the researchers report February 3 in Current Biology

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.

More from this issue of Science News