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Fossil photo of food chain: Snake eats lizard eats bug

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From Michael Greshko at National Geographic:

That fossil, recently described in Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments, is only the second of its kind ever found, revealing three levels of an ancient food chain nested one inside the other in paleontology’s version of Russian nesting dolls—or its culinary equivalent, a turducken. More.

This is interesting but what is even more interesting is when life forms choose to live inside other life forms, abandoning machinery that creates independence—devolution:

Sometimes, devolution offers an apparent advantage. Many plankton microbes eliminated the genes for producing key vitamins, and now outsource the function. One account suggests, “… most of the time, the fitness advantages of smaller genomes and lower cell replicating costs offset the potential fitness gains that would come from vitamin manufacture when the required nutrients are in short supply.” Similarly, while functioning cell walls are thought to be critical to life forms, we are told that many bacteria can switch to a cell wall-deficient “L-form” state, “completely resistant to many antibiotics,” and possibly ignored by our immune systems.

See also: Are viruses nature’s perfect machine? Or alive? (Are they devolved cells?)


Devolution: Getting back to the simple life

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