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The Artful Amoeba

Wonderful Things: Parasite Shoots Tiny Animals with Harpoons Launched from Guns

Haptoglossa_gun_Barron 1987_Fig1_200

The most complicated fungal cell known to science belongs to a parasite called Haptoglossa mirabilis first lured into a rotifer-baited trap in the soil of a tropical greenhouse in a Toronto suburb on October 7, 1979. Inside that trap lay a cell so intricate and finely tuned it gives jellyfish stinging cells a run for their money.

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The Artful Amoeba

A Stuffy Government Yearbook and Its Beautiful, Exotic Worms


Consider this image: Is it a work from a modern-day Book of Kells? A Chinese seal? The cover of The Neverending Story?  No. Would you have guessed it is from a U.S. government publication? Here it is in its original context (don’t miss the caption!). Here’s another, of a free-living marine nematode called Draconema (see [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Nematode Roundworms Own This Place


The next time you find yourself becoming mosquito chow, remember this video: This is Strelkovimermis spiculatis — a parasitic nematode, or roundworm — casually escaping from an unlucky, soon-to-be-expired mosquito larva. The way this larva twitches as the nematode slithers out is gut-wrenching. You can still see the poor larva’s vitals pumping even after nematode [...]

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Forget Human Spaceflight: Send Worms Instead!

Spaceflight is hard on the body, but, even so, a new study has found that the tiny nematode (or roundworm) Caenorhabditis elegans appears to age more slowly in space than on the ground. Whether the same is true of human tissue remains to be seen, although many genes in the millimeter-long worm have analogues in [...]

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