Anton van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) is shown here with one of his hand-held lenses (a). Leeuwenhoek observed an alga of the genus Spirogyra (b) and a protist of the genus Vorticella (c).
The first person to observe living cells was a Dutch trader named Anton van Leeuwenhoek. Leeuwenhoek made microscopes that were simple and tiny, but he ground lenses so precisely that the magnification was 10 times that of Hooke's instruments. In 1673, Leeuwenhoek, shown in Figure 4-2a, was able to observe a previously unseen world of microorganisms. He observed cells with green stripes from an alga of the genus Spirogyra, as shown in Figure 4-2b, and bell-shaped cells on stalks of a protist of the genus Vorticella, as shown in Figure 4-2c. Leeuwenhoek called these organisms animalcules. We now call them protists.
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