Millions of years ago, tiny animal thieves going by the alias protozoa held algae captive and then exploited and stole their genes for energy production, thereby evolving into a new and more powerful species.

But the little protozoan outlaws couldn’t completely hide all evidence of the captive algae and have been effectively frozen in time – and then caught in the act by genetic sequencing. 

The protozoa captured genes for photosynthesis, the process of harnessing light to produce energy which is used by all plants and algae on earth. Scientists assume that quantum leaps of evolution occurred by one organism cannibalizing another, but hard evidence is rare.

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