Have you ever asked yourself, “How big is a cell in my body?” or “What’s inside those cells?” Today, we’re going to dive into a fascinating part of our cells called the mitochondrion. But first, let’s get a sense of the size of these incredible structures.
Think about a grain of salt. It’s tiny, right? Now, imagine something even smaller than that. That’s how small a mitochondrion is. In fact, it’s about 1,000 times smaller than a grain of salt. To give you an idea, if a grain of salt was the size of a basketball, a mitochondrion would be about the size of a pea.
Now that we’ve compared the size of a mitochondrion to everyday objects, let’s learn a bit more about what it is and what it does. A mitochondrion is a tiny part of almost every cell in your body. You can think of a cell like a bustling city, and the mitochondrion is like the power plant that keeps everything running smoothly. They’re often called the “powerhouse of the cell” because they produce something called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is a type of energy that cells use to do their jobs.
Inside these tiny powerhouses, there’s a lot going on. Mitochondria have a unique structure that sets them apart from other parts of the cell.
The mitochondrion was first discovered by a scientist named Albert von Kölliker in 1857. He found them while studying the muscles of insects. The name “mitochondrion” was given by Carl Benda in 1898. The term means “thread granule,” which describes the shape and look of these tiny powerhouses under a microscope.
While most cells in your body and in other animals, plants, and fungi have mitochondria, not all do. For example, mature red blood cells in mammals don’t have mitochondria. Some tiny organisms have even transformed their mitochondria into other structures or lost them completely. In conclusion, the mitochondrion might be small in size, but it plays a massive role in keeping our cells — and us — alive and kicking. It’s a tiny powerhouse with a big job, working non-stop to provide the energy we need every second of every day.
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