Biologist Henri Milne-Edwards and his contemporaries in the 1800s referred to cells as globules. Many rejected the term “cell” that Robert Hooke used to describe the dead dried plant cells he looked at under the microscope. He was considered a botanist when he made this declaration, and therefore most likely the animal cell biologists were not sold on the term "cell" being used to describe animal tissues. A cell was a room and the term was used to describe the small above ground cemetery crypts at that time…..so it was not necessarily a term of endearment. It also implied that cells were empty, and many early biologists believed they were filled with some kind of “protoplasm.”
After the term cell became widely accepted many biologists claimed, based on their observations, that all creatures were made of these small compartments called cells. Additional cell theories implied that cells were derived from cells and their arrangement determined in part the morphology of living things. Is this true? Is every living creature with the exception of viruses and prions made of cells? Maybe not. There is an asexually reproducing seaweed called Caulerpa taxifolia. It grows so well that it crowds out all other aquatic plants on the ocean floor. However it appears to be a giant multinucleate single cell. ( so much for my idea that unicellular life does not exist). What is bizarre is that this single celled creature can form stem-like, root-like and leave-like shapes as a single cell.
In class we will try to define what a cell is, but here is my question for the blog. From a teleological perspective, what is the advantage of multicellularity, what is the advantage of making most every macro-creature out of really really small cells?