A new kingdom

Reach back into the murky depths of your high school biology class. I know, it’s been a long time, but stick with me. Remember the kingdoms of life? Animals, plants, fungus, bacteria, etc? We may still be debating other things, like virii, and sure, there are millions of individual species and even families we haven’t discovered yet…but the kingdoms are pretty obvious. Those can’t change.

A friend of mine works on data mining genetic sequences from communicable diseases, and he dropped a whopper in my lap recently at a dinner party. They routinely go to hospitals and other clinics to work with samples in the field, and when they brought one back to the lab a bit ago, they found that they’d discovered not just a new species, or a new family, but an entirely new kingdom: a fungus that can locomote. Literally, a walking slime monster straight out of a B movie.

(I don’t have a citation, but I wish I did. I’ll post a link here as soon as I find one.)

It blew my mind. I don’t think about the kingdoms of life often, but I definitely assumed they covered everything. It consistently amazes me how much we still don’t know about biology. Can you imagine discovering something that huge on a normal work day, not even on purpose, just going about your business? So crazy.


24 thoughts on “A new kingdom

  1. 4 years later, I am still holding my breath for the announcement of the new kingdom, named, I suppose, “fungi”. I suspect your friend got a little over-excited, but let me recommend Gould’s Wonderful Life which tells the story of how multiple new phyla, not quite kingdoms, were discovered not long ago.

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