Copyright

Archaea Lesson for Kids: Definition & Facts

Instructor: Lindsy Frazer

Dr. Frazer has taught several college level Science courses and has a master's degree in Human Biology and a PhD in Library and Information Science.

When you think about microscopic creatures, bacteria probably come to mind. But, bacteria aren't the only single-celled organisms around. Learn about Archaea - single-celled creatures that can be found in extreme places - in this lesson.

What Are Archaea?

Teeth. Skin. Intestines.

What do these things have in common? Of course they're all parts of your body, but they're also all home to microscope organisms called Archaea (pronounced AHR-kee-uh)! That's right, hanging out around your teeth, on your skin and in your intestines are teeny, tiny creatures! But have no fear - these little guys don't just call your body home - they help you out.

Archaea are single-celled organisms that often live in extreme places, like your guts! Like bacteria, Archaea are prokaryotic (pronounced proh-KAR-ee-oht-ik) cells: the smallest type of cell around. Because a prokaryotic cell is so small, it doesn't have a nucleus or organelles, structures that preform specific tasks in a cell. And while it might be scary to imagine microscopic organisms hanging out in your gut, these Archaea actually help you digest the food you eat.

Shape and Size

Archaea come in different shapes: rod, cone, square and round. They're anywhere from 0.1 to 15 micrometers in size: compare that to the average grain of salt, which is about 1,000 micrometers.

Archaea are single-celled prokaryotes.
null

Why Are Archaea Called Extremophiles?

Inside the human body isn't the only extreme place you'll find Archaea. Most Archaea are considered extremophiles (pronounced EX-stream-o-fahyls) because they live and thrive in extreme conditions.

Archaea can be found in places with extremely high and low temperatures, like deep sea thermal vents or the waters around Antarctica. They can also be found in very salty places like the Great Salt Lake in Utah, where the water can be up to 27% salt. You'll even find Archaea in very acidic environments. Talk about extreme!

Theromphiles and Psychrophiles

Scientists classify extremophiles like Archaea according to the type of extreme environments they call home. Archaea that live in very hot environments, like the hot springs in Yellowstone National Park where temperatures can reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit, are called theromphiles (pronounced THUR-muh-fahyls). Psychrophiles (pronounced SY-kroh-fahyls) are Archaea that live in extremely cold places like the polar seas. While they can live almost anywhere, the largest number of Archaea live in extremely cold environments.

Most Archaea live in extreme environments, like this hot spring where temperatures can reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
null

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support