The first condolence card ever sent, 3 billion B.C.E.

Here's a photo of Lyle we thought you might like to have.

Dear Mixie,

All of us in the unicellular community were saddened to hear about your brother Lyle’s sudden binary fission. We know how much joy he brought you and the other prokaryotes in your stabilizing polymer matrix.

Of course, we hope you are comforted by the knowledge that he lived a long, 30-minute life. We’ll never forget watching Lyle take his first, clumsy flagellum-propelled steps, grow his cytoskeleton, or consume sugars. He was truly a unique individual, someone who contributed to his community as a mentor, friend, and local historian of bacterial trivia.

He will be missed. Please let us know if you need anything at all, although we may be busy writing millions more of these letters.

With sympathy,

Tog and all the guys in the microcolony


When Dr. Todd Pinceman of the Detroit Microbiological and Clowning Institute cracked open a rock found on holiday in Key Biscayne, he knew immediately that he had stumbled upon one of the greatest discoveries of his career. Long hours had been spent in the lab creating massive colonies of bacteria, changing tiny bits of DNA to try and prove once and for all that single-celled organisms were capable of writing basic letters. For years, though, he had been stymied as his experiments resulted in failure after failure. One batch of bacteria did multiplication, but only up to 12×12. A second began to create tiny hats. One batch even invented fire, causing massive damage to the lab and nearly ending the project’s funding. And still, no writing.

Apparently, though, this particular trait was present in an early bacteria, discovered in that rock by Dr. Pinceman. Named “Filiminious Itoldyoubastardos,” this amazing organism lived in hot pools amidst sulphuric gasses. To pass the time waiting to divide, they began writing to each other. First, simple notes (“Do you like my new flagellum? Check: O Yes O No”), then as evolution worked its magic, detailed letters covering all occasions. A second sample discovered just a year later in Canada:

Dear Thomas,

I find your continued insistence that Frank Microbean is the best candidate for consul of this puddle has become grating. We both know he’s just another one of these divide and spend liberals who wants to take your hard won sucrose and give it to “the less fortunate” (which we both know won’t be us Prokaryotic cells). It’s almost like we didn’t split apart from each other 12 minutes ago.

Your 4,212,455th Oldest Brother,


Finally, with all the proof he needed, Dr. Pinceman published his findings and became rich and famous. After an appearance on the Johnny Carson show where he was obviously intoxicated (the strippers he brought said it was crack cocaine), he disappeared. Police determined it was suicide. But to this day, his loyal fans still say he’s around, cataloging single-celled literature and living the dream.


1 Comment

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One response to “The first condolence card ever sent, 3 billion B.C.E.

  1. Julie

    This is just crazy enough to be really funny.

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