Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Life in 10 Drops of Water: Assorted Protists and rotifers

This is the fourth in the series of images of some of the organisms found in just a few drops of water collected from a pond in a disused quarry on the edge of the moors in Weardale.

An amoeba. I could spend a long time watching these - it's rather relaxing watching an organism whose motto for life must be 'go with the flow'

It seems to have ingested a wide varieties of objects.

This is one of the free-swimming ploimate rotifers, with tails that look like scissors - possibly Monommata caudata...? 

Vorticella - a ciliate protist on a stalk, that contracts like a spring when disturbed. The green object is a cyanobacterium - possibly Gloeocapsa.

A ciliate protist that creeps along using strange 'whiskers' - and also swims very actively using smaller cilia. You can see a contractile vacuole quite nicely here. I think this, and the three below, might all be Oxytricha.

All three of the above ciliate protists look rather well fed - full of undigested algae.

This beautiful object is the flask-shaped shell of the testate rhizopod Cyphoderia ampulla. The amoeba that lived inside has long-since died.

I thought this might be the shell of a testate rhizopod, but Natalia has kindly identified it as a tintinnid  ..........

... at higher magnification you can see that it's constructed of tiny translucent particles....

... that are especially fine and fit together beautifully around the orifice

.... and finally another heliozoan, that appears to be ingesting something


  1. Stunning! I can never get used to how omni-present life is on this planet and how exquisite beauty seems to be waiting to be found at all levels. Since beauty doesn't seem to confer any evolutionary advantage at this level (?) one can only assume that God - if there is such a Thing - is an Artist. Perhaps God's directions to humankind as recorded in Genesis have been grievously misinterpreted. Perhaps it wasn't "Go forth and multiply" but rather "Go forth and create - and enjoy what the rest of Creation is creating while you're at it."

  2. I will always remember my science teacher describing the amoeba, "... amorphous, rather like my own shape."

  3. Vivid!!! what else to say... you are doing such a great job...

  4. Beauty is a human concept whose appreciation varies between individuals and between cultures. Some cultures find others' concept of beauty repugnant, so it's very subjective. Since humans have only been around for the proverbial blink of an eye in evolutionary history beauty - however it is perceived -cannot have been a factor in the evolutionary process.

  5. Hi John, I'm thinking more along those lines daily when I look in the mirror...

  6. The orgtanism you think is a rhizopod it is a Tintinnid

  7. Thanks for the ID nataliasd, much appreciated.

  8. nataliasd is mistaken. There are freshwater tintinnids (Tintinnidium fluvatile is one), but they are rare and their loricas are gelatinous. Tintinnopsis, which builds an agglutinated shell, is exclusively marine. This is an amoeboid test, probably Difflugia acuminata.


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