Primetime Protists

Charles J. O'Kelly okellyc at megasun.BCH.UMontreal.CA
Wed Jul 17 07:31:13 EST 1996

In article <199607161054.GAA01959 at> farmer at EMLAB.CB.UGA.EDU writes:
>Yesterday I was delighted to open my mailbox and see protists on the 
>front of a major US magazine. 
>Imagine then my dismay when I read the article inside and they 
>referred to foraminiferans as "...microscopic, single-celled 
>animals.."  Animals??  ANIMALS!!!  If the editors of one of the most 
>influential magazines for educating the public about the nature of 
>science was calling forams "animals",  I realized that we have our 
>work cut out for us.

since most biologists outside the protist community
either know nothing about or misunderstand the current debates
about protist systematics, I can hardly expect non-biologist
professional writers/editors to grasp the concepts
 ... unless we tell them!

besides, under some definitions, Sci. Am. is right.
(example: group contains ancestor and all descendants, ancestor is 
the first mitochondrial eukaryote, first mitochondrial eukaryote 
is treated as an animal, ergo all protists are animals - 
of course, by this definition, coconuts are animals too :-) )

>Does someone more eloquent than I want to draft a letter to the 
>Editor of Scientific American

suggestion: craft any letter in the context of a story opportunity.
"Protistologists Reshape the Trunk of the Tree of Life".  or 
something like that.  

might get a far more sympathetic hearing than a complaint ... but
be prepared to hear a request from Sci. Am. for authors, story 
outline, deadline.  pack of work, but why not take the chance of
raising ye olde profile?  and I'm not just addressing Mark here

best, charley


Charles J. O'Kelly
Mad Protistologist
okellyc at

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