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Revolutions that made the Earth$
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Tim Lenton and Andrew Watson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199587049

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199587049.001.0001

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Russian dolls

Russian dolls

(p.38) 3 Russian dolls
Revolutions that made the Earth

Tim Lenton

Andrew Watson

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes the nested structures found inside a human or any other complex organism, comparable to Russian dolls. As we delve deeper into this structure, we also go further back in time. All animals, and also plants and many fungi, are multi-cellular, made up of trillions of cells that act in supremely close cooperation, mostly using chemical signalling mechanisms to coordinate their actions. The adoption of the multi-cellular habit has enabled a huge increase in the complexity of size and form of living things. The three kingdoms of plants, animals, and fungi, which have raised multi-cellularity to a high art form, and which contain virtually all the living things that can actually be seen with the unaided eye, all appear in force in the fossil record after the most recent Snowball Earth event.

Keywords:   nested structures, complex organism, Russian dolls, chemical signalling mechanisms, multi-cellular habit, Snowball Earth event

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