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Nuclear-Waste = Nucleus


Round-Body = Well Rounded
Nuclear-Envelope = Nuclear Membrane

Lysosomes & Peroxisomes

Lysol = Lysosomes
Hydrogen Peroxide = Peroxisomes


Skeleton = Cytoskeleton


E.R. = Endoplasmic-Reticulum


Mighty-Mouse-Cone-Dryer = Mitochondria


Plasma-Monitor = Plasma-Membrane


The cell is the basic unit of life. Though it may not appear so in larger, more complex organisms, life begins and ends with the cell. Every single living thing is a collection of anywhere from one to trillions of cells, from a microscopic henitalium bacterium to the honey fungus spread over 2.4 miles of Oregon’s Blue Mountains.

chattonFrench biologist Édouard Chatton was the first to characterize the distinction between the prokaryote and the eukaryote. He coined the terms in his 1925 paper Pansporella perplex: Reflections on the Biology and Phylogeny of the Protozoa, calling them prokaryota and eukaryota, the two empires of life. The primary difference between the two is the lack or presence of a true nucleus and membrane bound organelles.

The word eukaryote comes from the old Greek eu, meaning true, and karyon, meaning kernel. Unlike prokaryotes, eukaryotes contain true nuclei. They also have a variety of membrane bound organelles, and may exist as either single cell organisms or multicellular organisms. There are four kingdoms of eukaryotes.


The word protista comes from the old Greek protistos, meaning the very first. Protists are single celled eukaryotes, and are believed to be the first eukaryotes to have evolved. This kingdom is unique among the four kingdoms. They can be either single cell or multi cell, but do not form specialized tissue. Protista is the most diverse of the four eukaryotic kingdoms, so diverse that it is often defined as any eukaryote that isn’t a plant, animal, or fungus. Kingdom Protista is further broken down based on their similarities to either plant, animal, or fungal cells.

protozoaProtozoa – Protozoans are similar to animals, in that they have the ability to move and lack the ability to produce their own food. However, while animals are multicellular organisms, and are found in both moist and dry areas across Earth, all protozoans are single celled and exist in moist and wet environments. They are further categorized into the four phyla based on how they move: sacordinians, zooflagellates, ciliaphorans, and sporozoans.

algaeAlgae – Algae are plant-like organisms that can be either single or multi celled. Much like plants, they produce their own food and release oxygen. Algae are further broken down into green algae, brown algae, golden algae, and fire algae.

slime-moldsSlime Molds – Saprophytic protists, or slime molds, are single celled organisms that share many similar traits with the molds from Kingdom Fungi. They are found in moist soils, decaying plant matter, and trees. Under favorable conditions, they form multicellular colonies. When the conditions worsen, they differentiate into individual fruiting bodies bearing spores at their tips. These spores possess cell walls that help them survive in the less than favorable conditions, and can disperse by air currents to relocate.


Kingdom Fungi consists of single celled yeasts and molds and of many multicellular fungi that produce fruiting bodies, such as mushrooms and puffballs. While some form of early fungus probably existed before even the earliest of plants or animals, fungi were not recognized as different from plants until 1969. While not the most common fungi, mushrooms are probably the most commonly recognized. Have a look at a mushroom, and it’s easy to see why they were considered plants for so long. They sprout up out of the ground or other plants, and they don’t move around and eat other organisms or mate.

However, fungi are not plants. Much like plants, fungal cells do have cell walls. However, these cell fungiwalls contain chitin. Chitin is a long-chain polymer of a glucose derivative. It can be found in the exoskeletons of some mollusks and insects, and well as in various other body parts of some other animals. It cannot, however, be found in the cell walls of any cell other than a fungal cell. Fungi also do not produce their own food, as plants do. Instead, they must find food to consume.

Given this, fungi might begin to seem more like animals than plants. However, fungi certainly don’t belong in that kingdom either. As stated above, fungal cells do have cell walls. Animal cells do not. Also, while animals move around and ingest food, fungi are stationary organisms that are incapable of hunting or grazing. They spread by either growing or sending out spores. When a fungus encounters food, it grows into the food source and excretes digestive enzymes into it. Then, it absorbs the dissolved nutrients through a process that is quite similar to how plants absorb nutrients from the soil.

Fungi are the primary decomposers in any ecosystem. In the circle of life, plants produce the food that animals eat. Eventually, all animals and plants die. Fungi then digest the dead organic matter, or in the case of parasitic fungi, the living organic matter, and break down the nutrients stored within.


Much like the algae of Kingdom Protista, plant cells have cell walls made of cellulose. With the notable exception of parasitic plants that leach nutrients from others, plants also produce their own food through the process of photosynthesis. Unlike algae, all plants are multicellular, and even in photosynthetic plants, not all cells are capable of photosynthesis. Plant cells are unique from any other type of cell in that each has a water-filled vacuole.

plantWhile perhaps not immediately apparent, plants contain organs and organ systems. Different types of plant cells join together to form specialized tissues, which then join to form organs. Each leaf, stem, and root is a separate organ. The leaves together, the root system, and all of the parts of the stem are all organ systems. Plants can reproduce both asexually and sexually. Flowers are pretty to look at and often pleasant to smell, but their primary purpose is not to provide a pleasing experience to humans. Flowers are the reproductive organ systems of many plants. They include one or more carpel, each of which contains an ovary. Atop the ovary is a style and a stigma, which receive and funnel pollen toward the ovary for fertilization. Stamens contain anthers and filaments. The anther produces pollen, which is the male reproductive cell. Some plants produce what are called perfect flowers, which are flowers that contain both male and female organs. Others produce imperfect flowers, which are either male or female. Kingdom Plantae is further divided into four distinct categories.

Bryophyta – These are non-vascular land plants that contain no conducting tissues. Bryophytes, such as mosses and liverworts, are small and typically grow close to the ground. They reproduce through spores, and are non-flowering plants.

Pteridophytae – These plants are seedless vascular plants like horsetails. Their reproduction process is also carried out by spores.

Angiosperm – Angiosperms are flowering plants that develop seeds. They develop their seeds within an ovary, which itself is embedded in a flower. After fertilization, the flower falls off and the ovary bulges to become a fruit. Inside the fruit, the seeds that will eventually become new angiosperms develop.

Gymnosperm – Gymnosperms are non-flowering plants that produce seeds that aren’t enclosed in a fruit. The largest and easiest group of Gymnosperms to recognize is the conifer group. Conifers, such as pine trees, develop exposed seeds on a cone.


The final eukaryotic kingdom is Kingdom Animalia, more commonly known as animals. The word animal comes from the Latin animalis, which means having breath. As this suggests, all animals breathe. While animals are not the only organisms that undergo cellular respiration, most other organisms that do are single celled. In order to get the required oxygen to every cell in an animal’s body, the animal needs advanced circulatory and respiratory systems. While the organ systems are at least a little different from one species to the next, the general idea is the same. Animals breathe in, and the oxygen is dissolved into the blood and sent to every cell in the body. Each cell takes oxygen and expels carbon dioxide, which is then carried through the blood and expelled from the body.animal

Animal cells don’t have cell walls like plants or fungi. They do, however, form specialized tissues. These tissues form organs, which form the organ systems that work together as the individual body. Eleven major organ systems are present in animals, though they aren’t all the same in each animal, and some animals lack one or more altogether.

  1. Respiratory System – The respiratory system exchanges gases between the lungs or gills and the outside environment. This moves oxygen from the external environment to the internal environment so that individual cells can perform cellular respiration. It also removes the carbon dioxide waste and maintains the pH of the blood.
  2. Circulatory System – The circulatory system transports oxygen and nutrients to cells and carbon dioxide and other waste molecules away from cells. It also acts as the transport system for the endocrine and immune systems.
  3. Endocrine System – The endocrine system works closely with the nervous system to control the activity of internal organs as well as to coordinate long range responses to external stimuli. The endocrine system secretes hormones into the circulatory system that regulate body metabolism, growth, and reproduction.
  4. Nervous System – The nervous system coordinates and controls the actions of the internal organs and body systems. Memory, learning, emotions, and conscious thought are also controlled by the nervous system.
  5. Immune System – The immune, or lymphatic system defends the internal environment from invading microorganisms and viruses, as well as from cancerous cells.
  6. Digestive System – The digestive system digests food into nutrient molecules by breaking it down both mechanically and chemically until it is small enough to pass through the blood stream and into cells.
  7. Excretory System – The excretory system regulates the volume of internal body fluids and eliminates metabolic wastes from the internal environment.
  8. Skin, or Integument System – This system is the outer layer of protection for the body. It seals the body to prevent both water loss and invasion by foreign bodies. It also shields the body’s internal tissues from environmental exposure.
  9. Skeletal System – The skeletal system provides support and protection, as well as attachment points for muscles. It provides a rigid framework for movement and protects other organs. It also stores minerals and produces blood cells.
  10. Muscular System – The muscular system facilitates movement and locomotion. It produces body movements and heat, maintains posture, and supports the body.
  11. Reproductive System – The reproductive system is mostly controlled by the endocrine system, and is responsible for the survival and perpetuation of the species. Elements of this system produce hormones that control and aid in sexual development, and the organs of this system produce the gamete cells that combine in the female system to produce offspring.

There are 36 recognized phyla of Kingdom Animalia, but in general, animals are divided into two groups based on the absence or presence of a spine. Invertebrates do not have spines and vertebrates do. With the exception of arthropods like insects and spiders, the animals most familiar to most people are mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians – all of which are vertebrates. However, we vertebrates make up less than 5% of all animals! The vast majority of animals are actually invertebrates, and most of them are aquatic and rarely seen by most people.


The cell is the basic unit of life, and there are two types of cells. Eukaryotic cells have nuclei and membrane bound organelles, while prokaryotic cells do not. Eukaryotes evolved after prokaryotes, and can either be single or multi celled organisms. Domain Eukaryota is divided into four kingdoms. Kingdom Protista contains the primitive protists that are thought to be the first eukaryotes and the evolutionary predecessors to the other three kingdoms. Fungi are the primary decomposers of the ecosystem and break down organic matter to return primary nutrients to the soil. Plants are non-moving organisms that produce their own food through photosynthesis and release oxygen into the environment. Animals breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, which is needed by plants for photosynthesis. Animals can’t make their own food, and so have to either graze or hunt to consume other organisms.

Eukaryote Master Script

  1. Zoom: Whole Scene

Hot Spot: new-karate-coyote = eukaryote

Learning: Eukaryote is a type of cell that evolved after prokaryote, and has a nucleus and a variety of membrane bound organelles. Since eukaryote is the newer type of cell, this CoursePic focuses on a new-karate-coyote locked in a cell.

Story: After pro-karate-coyote was arrested for his violent protest, a new-karate-coyote arrived on the scene. New-karate-coyote is a neat-freak who has dedicated his life to becoming a master cleaner. When he saw the mess left in the wake of the protest, he lost it. He started a riot and got himself arrested, just like pro-karate-coyote before. Unlike pro-karate-coyote though, new-karate-coyote didn't go alone.

  1. Zoom: barrel of nuclear waste

Hot Spot: nuclear-waste = nucleus

Learning: Eukaryotes feature a centrally located membrane bound nucleus. Since nucleus sounds like nuclear-waste, there is a barrel of nuclear-waste in the middle of the cell.

Story: Because new-karate-coyote is such a well known clean freak, he got tossed in the worst cell available. It has a leaking barrel of nuclear-waste right in the middle of it! New-karate-coyote isn't worried about it though. He's well equipped to handle it.

  1. Zoom: Eukaryote's round body

Hot Spot: well-rounded = eukaryote's general shape; Nuclear-envelope = nuclear envelope (membrane)

Learning: Eukaryotes are considerably rounder than their prokaryotic predecessors. To show this, our new-karate-coyote is round. Around the center of a eukaryotic cell, the nuclear envelop, or nuclear membrane, holds together the nucleus that contains the cell's DNA. New-karate-coyote has a nuclear-envelope tucked between his round middle and his belt.

Story: Unlike pro-karate-coyote, who dedicated his life to the study of the K-9 arts, new-karate-coyote only took a couple semesters of Coyote Karate as general electives. While it didn't make him a karate master, new-karate-coyote's liberal arts education did mold him into the well-rounded individual he is today. Armed with the knowledge in the  nuclear-envelope he keeps tucked under his belt, new-karate-coyote is ready for anything.

  1. Zoom: Coyote's face, Lysol, and peroxide

Hot Spot: Lysol  = lysosomes; peroxide = peroxisomes

Learning: Eukaryotes contain organelles called lysosomes and peroxisomes, represented in this CoursePic by Lysol and peroxide, respectively. Much like how people might use Lysol or peroxide to clean and disinfect their immediate environments, the cell uses lysosomes and peroxisomes to clean up and detoxify the cellular environment.

Story: With his handy supply of Lysol and  peroxide always at the ready, new-karate-coyote knows he'll have this mess cleaned up in no time.

  1. Zoom: skeleton

Hot Spot: skeleton = cytoskeleton

Learning: Eukaryotic cells have a network of protein filaments and tubules called cytoskeletons that provide structural support and give them their shape. The skeleton leaned up in the corner of new-karate-coyote's cell represents the cytoskeleton of a eukaryotic cell.

Story: New-karate-coyote may well have been prepared for the nuclear-waste spill, but that didn't do the cell's previous occupant any good. His skeleton is still leaned up in the corner of the cell.

  1. Zoom: E. R.

Hot Spot: E. R. = endoplasmic reticulum

Learning: Eukaryotes have two sections of layered membranes that, with the help of ribosomes, process steroids and fats and produce a variety of proteins. These two membranous organelles are the rough endoplasmic reticulum and smooth endoplasmic reticulum. They, as well as the Golgi apparatus that works closely with them, are represented in this CoursePic by the E. R. hospital shown on the middle of the three plasma-monitors. The ribosomes aren't shown in this CoursePic, but as you probably remember from the previous lesson, they are represented by rib-zombies.

Story: All hope may not be lost for the skeleton. If new-karate-coyote can get him to the E. R. soon enough, the rib-zombies might just be able to get enough protein and fat into him for there to be a chance. The odds aren't good though, and even with aggressive steroid therapy, it's a long shot.

  1. Zoom: mighty mouse cone with hair dryer

Hot Spot: mighty-mouse-cone-dryer = mitochondria

Learning: The mitochondria, represented by mighty-mouse-cone-dryer, processes sugar and oxygen to generate energy for the cell.

Story: Cleaning up nuclear spills and rushing folks off to the hospital is tiring work. When new-karate-coyote gets too tired to go on, the ever energetic mighty-mouse-cone-dryer is there to inspire him.

  1. Zoom: back wall with plasma monitors

Hot Spot: plasma-monitor = plasma membrane

Learning: Just like prokaryotes, eukaryotes are bound together and protected by a plasma membrane. Just as in the previous lesson, the plasma membrane is represented by plasma-monitors lining the cell.

Story: New-karate-coyote is ready to power through the daunting tasks ahead. He knows that once he gets skeleton taken care of and the mess cleaned up, he'll be able to relax and watch the plasma-monitors, his only window to the outside world.

This is the default dialog which is useful for displaying information. The dialog window can be moved, resized and closed with the 'x' icon.