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The Ocelloid


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Amoebae shelled and naked

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Some amoebae build elaborate houses for themselves to live in. (top and side view of an Arcellinid)

Some build their houses out of siliceous (glass) scales and peek out of them with thread-like pseudopods called filopodia. (optical sections of a Euglypha cristata from a soil sample)

Some amoebae can be naked. (Saccamoeba(?) Note the wrinkly-bulby uroid at its trailing end — that’s where extra membrane ends up after the amoeba moves)

And spiny. (Acanthamoeba)

Sometimes even eruptive. (a Heterolobosean amoeba from soil, with contractile vacuole in act of expelling fluids at the back)

And sometimes, a house-bearing amoeba can find itself enshrouded by squishy naked cytoplasm of doom. (Our Euglypha cristata inside a no-longer-hungry amoeba. Evidently, the spines didn’t help. Don’t know species of the murderous amoeba, but definitely an Amoebozoan ;-) )

By the way, there is an incredible site on amoebae being developed as we speak by Ferry Siemensma, arcella.nl — pretty micrographs and lots of info on the lives of amoebae. Good for identification too. Truly a labour of love!

Psi Wavefunction About the Author: Psi Wavefunction is a graduate of the University of British Columbia working as a protist researcher (soon to be graduate student) at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and blogs about protists and evolution at The Ocelloid as well as at Skeptic Wonder. Follow on Twitter @Ocelloid.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. Blake Stacey 8:39 pm 11/21/2012

    Nice pics!

    I’m using one of your older photos as the desktop background for the computer with which I give presentations, because it’s all scienceful. The reaction I got while I was setting up for my talk Monday afternoon: “Monsters!”

    Link to this
  2. 2. ErkkiRuohtula 12:29 am 11/22/2012

    Amazing that even single-celled organisms can be so complex.

    Link to this
  3. 3. ErkkiRuohtula 12:29 am 11/22/2012

    Amazing that even single-celled organisms can be so complex.

    Link to this

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