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This simple cartoon shows general similarities and differences between eukaryote and prokaryote cells.
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Cells: The Building Blocks of Life!

All living things, from tiny bacteria to giant elephants, are made of cells. Tiny bacteria have only one cell while larger animals and plants can have trillions of cells.

Where do cells come from? New cells are made from old cells. Right now, even without your knowledge, your cells are making new cells!

There are two different types of cells.

Prokaryotic cells are bacteria cells! Species in the domains Archaea and Eubacteria have prokaryotic cells. Each cell contain everything the bacteria needs, but the stuff is not organized very much, just like a messy room!

Eukaryotic cells are the cells of plants, animals, fungi and protists (living things in the Eukaryota domain). Protists are usually quite small and have only one cell. But plants and animals can have tons of cells! These cells can be complex and are very well organized, just like a tidy room! Different parts of the cell do different things. Complex creatures like humans have special cells for special functions like carrying oxygen around the body, digesting food, or making bone.

Last modified October 15, 2011 by Jennifer Bergman.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF