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Creative Commons Licence :

Attribution Non-Commercial

No Derivative

licence cc

Production CNRS

Original Idea

Christian Sardet


Noé Sardet, Sharif Mirshak


Christian Sardet


Christian Sardet, Noé Sardet, Sharif Mirshak


Sharif Mirshak, Noé Sardet

Sound mix

Romain Strugala


Gregory Gallagher

Sound engineer

Cristobal Urbina


Theodore Rosengarten

Protists - Cells in the Sea

time 02:56

Single cell organisms, protists are the ancestors of all plants and animals.

Photo Gallery


Protists are single cell organisms with a nucleus like our own cells.  They appeared more than a billion years ago and are the ancestors of all plants and animals. Protists come in amazing shapes and colors. Protists have unusual names such as acantharians, coccolithophores, dinoflagellates radiolarians or diatoms.  Some can be seen with the naked eye, but most are microscopic. 

The world of protists is immense – millions of different species – but is often overlooked. In appearance and behavior protists are the most diverse of all living things.  Some are big eaters, swallowing other cells thanks to their exceptionally flexible membranes. Others use specialized organelles called chloroplasts to carry on photosynthesis like plants.  

There are also protists that behave like plants and animals at the same time. Protists build shells around their membrane from all sorts of material, including silicates, calcium, strontium or cellulose. They were the first architects of the planet. 

For a billion years, their tiny shells have been sinking to the bottom of the sea, building mountains.  These deep sea mountains formed the continents. Today we can find fossilized protist shells in the stones of houses and cathedrals. 

In this episode


Radiolarian / Collozum inerme
Radiolarian / Aulacantha scolymantha
Acantharian / Lithoptera mulleri
Centric diatom
Dinoflagellate / Pyrocystis elegans


Fish larvae
Annelid larva


NEW! Animal+Vegetal

Symbiosis in plankton

NEW! Ceratium

Grow fingers to catch more light

NEW! Protists 2

Radiolarians, Acantharians and Foraminiferans


Life in glass houses