Characteristics of Protists

There are over 100,000 described living species of protists, and it is unclear how many undescribed species may exist. Since many protists live as commensals or parasites in other organisms and these relationships are often species-specific, there is a huge potential for protist diversity that matches the diversity of their hosts. Because the name "protist" serves as a catchall term for eukaryotic organisms that are not animal, plant, or fungi, it is not surprising that very few characteristics are common to all protists. On the other hand, familiar characteristics of plants and animals are foreshadowed in various protists.

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