The LTEE has run for over 33 years and more than 74,000 generations. But we had almost nothing to show for all the hard work, until something fantastic happened last night.
Until last night, only one of the 12 lines had done anything even vaguely interesting: It figured out how to consume citrate—lemonade, basically. And it took them years to do even that simple trick.
And as some incredibly astute commentators have pointed out, even those citrate-eaters are still bacteria, just as they were when I started the experiment in 1988.
In fact, they’ve been bacteria for over 6000 years, according to the calculations of James (Jimmy the Bishop) Ussher, who placed the start of the creation at “the entrance of the night preceding the 23rd day of October [in] the year before Christ 4004.”
It’s too bad that Ussher didn’t just make it Saint Patrick’s Day. That way, we would at least all remember to celebrate that pretty special day. After all, Ussher was an Irish Primate.
Well, speaking of primates, guess what Devin discovered in one of the LTEE flasks when he went to do the transfers this morning? Monkeys! Yes, monkeys!!
Not quite the primate sort of monkeys, though. No, these were Sea-Monkeys!
With hindsight, I should have realized that with a liquid culture medium, we would evolve aquatic animals, not terrestrial ones. Maybe if we put some of those little plastic trees inside the flasks we could evolve real monkeys.