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Evolution of the protists is discussed on the basis of their known fossil record and the morphological, biochemical, metabolic, physiological, and distributional data concerning modern representatives. Periods of explosive evolution result from the chance appearance of a major innovation and are followed by extensive exploitation of the possibilities of each innovation. A billion years or more following the origination of life were characterized by a biochemical and metabolic stage of differentiation, procaryote structure, rapid biotic turnover, and simple carbon cycle. This was succeeded by a period of intercellular and physiologic differentiation, about 1.5 b.y. in duration, with continued rapid carbon...

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