by Francesco Lami
So yeah, I failed spectacularly to post last Friday’s Featured Organism, but since the blog is still young, hopefully nobody noticed. BWHAHAHA! Anyway, here’s Vorticella, a genus of ciliates that contains just 16 species, a detail that I only learn now. They swim around with cilia if disturbed, but usually they attach themselves to a substrate thanks to their stalk, which is also capable of contracting itself very rapidly if a danger is sensed (I’ve observed it – it’s pretty cool, it becomes a sort of helix in a fraction of a second). When attached, cilia are used to swirl water and bring food particles near the feeding extremity of the single-celled organism. These protozoa are pretty easy to find in swamps, ponds, puddles, or even just glasses of water left outside for a few days, and they’re pretty cool to watch with a microscope: the ecological and behavioural similarities with multicellular animals are astounding.