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No. 10: Spring 1980

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The Universal Urge To Join Up

Take a mouse cell and place it in contact with a human cell. The two separating membranes will dissove and the cell contents will mix. The once-independent and widely different cell nuclei will fuse, forming a single hybrid cell with a common membrane. Even more astonishing, this totally new biological entity will often divide and produce an endless line of the new hybrid. As might be expected, some hybrids do not remain true and revert to one or the other of the original species.

Although cell fusion has been observed only under laboratory conditions, it seems to represent a near-universal cell phenomenon that might be realized rarely under natural conditions. The implications for the history of life are far-reaching. For example, the mitochondria in human cells that help our bodies use oxygen to obtain energy may well be descendants of bacteria that once fused with primitive cells. The same may be true for the chloroplasts in plant cells.

(Thomas, Lewis; "Cell Fusion: Does It Represent a Universal Urge to 'Join Up'?" Science Digest, 86:52, December 1979.)

Comment. Natural cell fusion might make large evolutionary steps possible and be much faster than endless small genetic changes. Are we all composite creatures?

From Science Frontiers #10, Spring 1980. 1980-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987