This may change your whole perspective on the world as you know it.
Scientists in the UK have apparently discovered a new clade, or branch, of the tree of life. Though related to fungi, cryptomycota actually seem to make up their own group. And they're everywhere.
In effect, they are so widespread that they may make up their own unique branch of life alongside plants, animals, and bacteria, according to PopSci.
The scientists who have discovered this new clade--a clade is like a branch on the tree of life that consists of an organism and all of its descendants--have named it cryptomycota, which loosely means “hidden from the kingdom Fungi” so we’re told. And indeed the cryptomycota have remained hidden from sight even though it turns out they are everywhere, living in many different environments, including freshwater lakes and sediments, as well as pond water.
But how did it take so long to find this new form of life?
As it turns out the potential new clade is closely related to the Rozella genus of fungi, according to Ars Technica. However, scientists haven't been able to find cell walls, which typically constitute a fungus.
From Ars Technica:
If these cells follow the cycle of typical chytrid cells, the rest of the cells (the ones that don’t have a flagellum) would be in cyst form, which has a cell wall and lacks a flagellum. The odd thing is that the authors could not find cell walls on any of the cryptomycota cells.
The discovery comes at a time when scientists thought they had discovered every type of fungus, according to NPR. That said, if this new discovery does definitively prove to be a new form of life, they may still have been right.