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The Three Domains

3 DOMAINS

The 3 Domains

Page 23 is a sidebar showing "Biological Classification." The page correctly points out that the most fundamental taxonomic split of organisms is into the three domains: Bacteria, Archaea, Eukaryota. Of these domains, Explore Evolution says, "Each of these has a fundamentally different cell structure."

While true, this is only half the story--the most important differences are genetic, not morphological. In fact, bacteria and archaea have such a close superficial resemblance that for a long time they were not distinguished into different domains.

The 3 Domains model is relatively new; it was proposed by Carl Woese in 1990. (Woese C, Kandler O, Wheelis M (1990). "Towards a natural system of organisms: proposal for the domains Archaea, Bacteria, and Eucarya.". Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 87 (12): 4576–9.)