The Most Amazing Creature on Earth

If you were asked to nominate a form of life to be given the title of "most amazing creature on the earth," what would be your choice. In this column, we have explained some pretty bizarre creatures over the 30+ years we have been writing. Some have been amazing in beauty, some in strength, some in what they can endure, and some in what they provide for us and other forms of life on the earth.

Cyanobacteria is the oldest form of life to appear in the fossil record. These life forms were present shortly after the earth was created, and they have come through time unchanged. The forms living today look no different than their ancestor from the beginning of the earth's history. Evolution has not happened to cyanobacteria. In addition to this, they are the most resilient of all life forms on this planet. We find them in hot springs, in ice capped Antarctic lakes, in barren deserts, inside rocks, at the bottom of the oceans, and even in nuclear reactors.

Dr. Donald Bryant at Penn State University has detailed the reason for the resiliency of cyanobacteria.

  1. Their nutritional needs are extremely simple. "All they need is light, CO2, and mineral salts like iron, phosphate, or sulfur."
  2. They can get along without water for huge periods of time-up to thousands of years.
  3. They can adapt to all kinds of environments.

What is cyanobacteria good for? Well, for one thing, it has produced 20% of the oxygen in our atmosphere. Cyanobacteria provides a basis for all other life forms on this planet. Concentrating nutrients and providing a foundation on which all other life functions. Cyanobacteria can repair radiation damage, and they can stabilize other cells around them. They are getting a lot of attention from NASA because they may be useful in the colonization of other places in the solar system. And what is cyanobacteria? You know it as pond skum. The word cyanobacteria comes from a Greek word meaning blue-green rods. These amazing creatures are part of the design of the whole biological system of the earth. They not only provide oxygen, but form the base of the food chain nourishing all forms of animal life. Scientists speak of pond scum "inventing photosynthesis," but mindless bacteria do not invent. They are carefully designed and planned life forms that provided the foundation upon which all other living things exist. They speak eloquently of the planning and engineering that allow life to exist. Source: "Scientist See Amazing Saga in Pond Scum" by Robert Boyd, South Bend Tribune, March 18, 1999.

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