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Scientists find 'man's remotest relative' in lake sludge

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After two decades of examining a microscopic algae-eater that lives in a lake in Norway, scientists on Thursday declared it to be one of the world's oldest living organisms and man's remotest relative.

The elusive, single-cell creature evolved about a billion years ago and did not fit in any of the known categories of living organisms -- it was not an animal, plant, parasite, fungus or alga, they said.

"We have found an unknown branch of the tree of life that lives in this lake. It is unique!" University of Oslo researcher Kamran Shalchian-Tabrizi said.

"So far we know of no other group of organisms that descends from closer to the roots of the tree of life than this species", which has been declared a new category of organism called Collodictyon.

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