The cell is the basic unit of life. Some organisms are made up of a single cell, like bacteria, while others are made up of trillions of cells. Human beings are made up of cells, too.
Different Types of Cells
There are lots of different types of cells. Each type of cell is different and performs a different function. In the human body, we have nerve cells which can be as long as from our feet to our spinal cord. Nerve cells help to transport messages around the body. We also have billions of tiny little brain cells and muscle cells which help us move around. There are many more cells in our body that help us to function and stay alive.
Although there are lots of different cells, most of them can be divided into two main categories: prokaryotic and eukaryotic.
Prokaryotic Cells - The prokaryotic cell is a simple, small cell with no nucleus. Most bacteria are prokaryotic. There are three main parts to the prokaryotic cell: 1) the outside of the cell called the cell wall 2) the flagella which is like an appendage and can help the cell to move 3) the inside of the cell called the cytoplasm.
Eukaryotic Cells - these cells are a lot bigger and have a cell nucleus which houses the cell's DNA. These are the types of cells we find in plants and animals.
Parts of the Cell
There are a lot of parts and functions to some cells. Here are some of the main components many cells have:
The machines inside the cell like the nucleus, ribosomes, and lysosomes are called organelles.
- Membrane - This is the outer boundary of the cell. Sort of like the skin. It allows some substances in and keeps others out.
- Mitochondria - This is where the cell gets its energy. In the human body, food we have digested reacts with oxygen in the mitochondria to make energy for the cell.
- Ribosomes - Ribosomes are like tiny factories that make different things the cell needs to function, like proteins.
- Nucleus - The nucleus is the brains of the cell. It uses chromosomes to instruct the rest of the cell what to do next.
- Cytoplasm - This is the stuff that fills up the rest of the cell. The other components of the cell float around in the cytoplasm. It's mostly water.
- Lysosomes - These guys clean up the place getting rid of waste and other unwanted substances that may get into the cell.
Fun Facts About Cells
- They were discovered by the scientist Robert Hooke.
- The largest known cells are ostrich eggs. They can weigh over three pounds.
- When many cells of the same kind are together in a group, it's call tissue.
- The word cell comes from the Latin word cellula, which means small room.
- Humans actually carry more bacteria cells than human cells. Yuck!
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