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Protozoa facts for kids

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Giardia lamblia SEM 8698 lores
Giardia lamblia is a parasitic flagellate protozoan which causes 'beaver fever'.

Protozoa are small (but not simple) organisms. They are single-celled heterotrophic eukaryotes, which eat bacteria and other food sources.

It is an old term, and the wider term protist is generally preferred today. However, 'protozoa' is often used for convenience, especially in junior education. It is a convenient hold-all term, and most systems of taxonomy classify 'protozoa' into several different phyla.

The term is problematic because modern biochemical and genetic techniques show that it includes several quite different kinds of cells. They are found only in moist or aquatic habitats. Many protozoan species are symbionts, some are parasites, and some are predators of soil bacteria and algae. About 30,000 protozoan species are known.

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