Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Even better than jumbo shrimp

What could this be? A giant amoeba a.k.a. Gromia sphaerica. (I wanted to blog about this earlier, but I've been chained to the bench.)

Mikhail “Misha” Matz, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, discovered this amoeba species while in the Bahamas.* Previously, this species had only been located in the Arabian Sea. 

What is so cool about G. sphaerica?
1. It is the size of a grape. A FREAKING GRAPE people.
2. It leaves a trail. It is hypothesized that while rolling along the ocean floor G. sphaerica pick up sediment in front and then discharge the sediment in the back, subsequently leaving trails. 
3. Ancestors of this "sea grape" may be responsible for fossil tracks present in "ancient mud." According to the New Scientist article, some of the tracks predate the evolution of multicellular life, making an ancient large protozoan a possible candidate.
4. Did I mention that it is the size of a grape? I am completely fascinated and I am pretty sure that I need one. What? People keep fish. I want a sea grape!

I highly recommend checking out the paper. There pictures are great. It looks like there are herds of these amoebas moving along the floor. 

*Yes, while the rest of us were toiling away in the lab, surrounded by concrete and foul chemicals, this lucky bastard was in the Bahamas .

Current Biology (DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2008.10.028)

The New Scientist


Anonymous said...

Even better than jumbo shrimp is the jumbo mimi virus - the size of bacteria - visable on a gram stain slide with just a light microscope - on closer inspection it had its own little virophages - how cool is that????


microbiologist xx said...

Sorry it took me so long to get back. Indeed the giant mimi virus IS better than jumbo shrimp. I am intrigued and I must investigate! I have go to see a gram stain of a virus. I'm not sure my life will be complete without it. :)