Q:

What do all protists have in common?

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Quick Answer

All protists are eukaryotic, meaning they feature a cellular structure with nuclei to contain their genetic material. Also called protozoans, which means "first animals," all protists prefer a moist environment and are found where there is perpetually moist soil or in freshwater and saltwater bodies of water.

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Along with the nucleus, most protists also feature mitochondria which aid in metabolic functions, and vacuoles which aid in digestion. This means that despite sometimes being of very small size, protists are relatively complex organizations from a functional standpoint.

Other than these basic similarities, the nature and features of protists vastly vary. They may be unicellular or multicellular and range in size from microscopic to 300 feet in length. However, even in the largest multicellular protists, there is no cellular specialization or differentiation in tissues types. While protists are not classified as plants, animals or fungi, they may display plant-like, animal-like or fungi-like characteristics.

The Kingdom Protista was established by the scientist Ernst Haeckel in 1866. It was not officially recognized by the larger scientific community until a century later in the 1960's. The Kingdom Protista is often called a"junk drawer" since it comprises all the eukaryotics that cannot be classified into any other kingdom.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How are protists classified?

    A:

    Protists are members of the Protista kingdom. The three main classifications or protist phyla are protozoa, algae and slime mold. These protist types also generate movement in different ways, such as through cilia, flagella and pseudopodia.

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  • Q:

    How do protists reproduce?

    A:

    Protists are a diverse group of organisms, and they reproduce in a number of different ways, including asexual binary fission, multiple fission, fragmentation and several forms of sexual reproduction. Many protists can reproduce either sexually or asexually depending on environmental conditions.

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  • Q:

    How do protists move?

    A:

    Locomotion in the protist kingdom is varied and extremely versatile. Amoebas use cytoplasmic processes called pseudopods, while paramecia have rows of cilia that move in unison like tiny oars. Euglena and dinoflagellates use whip-like proteins called flagella to swim, and some protozoa, such as diatoms and plasmodium (the organism that causes malaria), are non-motile, meaning they do not move independently.

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  • Q:

    In what sense are protists primitive?

    A:

    One way in which protists are considered primitive is that they are mostly unicellular, and the ones that are multicellular do not organize their cells into specialized tissues. However, protists have been evolving just as long as other life on Earth and are not necessarily primitive beings.

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