Tag Archives: Cell Biology

Medical Microfiction: Multicellularity

The Multicellularity Defense

The papers called Eddie the “Monsoon Killer” because he liked to bathe in the blood of his victims.

Really. He had an extra hot tub installed just for that purpose. At five quarts of blood per person, he racked up quite the headcount.

Eddie spent 10 years in lockup while they tallied the bodies.

Just what he wanted.

Court Day arrives, and in strolls Eddie. He denies none of the evidence but claims innocence anyway. Calls it the Multicellularity Defense: “We’re just made of cells, and cells don’t live long. All my guilty cells are dead. Therefore, you must acquit!”


Cell Biology
Cells all on the same team. (Photo credit: ex_magician)

You probably know today’s word, multicellularity, but do you ever stop to think how dang strange it is that we’re walking colonies of cells? And that these cells are always dying off, and yet somehow we don’t completely lose our sense of identity when they do?

Most life on Earth gets only one cell to live. For the bacteria, archaea, and protists among us, life begins with one cell and ends when that cell dies. If you’re lucky, you get a chance to divide before that happens, thereby passing on your genes to the next generation.

Multicellular organisms like ourselves get to live longer than that. If one cell dies, it’s not the end of the world. We go on. Most of the cells in our body get replaced on a rolling basis depending on the cell type. Red blood cells kick along for about four months, while skin cells get a few weeks to live. The nerve cells that make up the brain have the longest lifespan, and can last up until your death.

That means it’s only fair to convict Eddie’s brain of the crimes. Don’t punish the poor, innocent epidermis though!

As an added Easter Egg, did you guys catch the reference to the Chewbacca Defense at the end there? You must acquit!