This has been coming for a while, but I needed a push to make it official. I’m not much of a blogger anymore (four posts a year doesn’t quite cut it), so it’s only fair that I wrap things up at SciAm Blogs, at least for the foreseeable future.
An advantage of having a, let’s say, ‘volatile’ memory is that you can sit back and do microscopy… on your own hard drive.
I finally made the move I was supposed to do months (if not years) ago! Through a strange twist of evolutionary contingency (the same kind through which our kind came about in the first place), Dalhousie University in Halifax has become host to one of the worst infestations of protistologists in the world.
Isn’t it great when your art subjects cooperate and model themselves? Algae are inherently photogenic — especially if they look like fuzz or goo to the naked eye!
Things have been a little tense lately… here, have a dinoflagellate! (kinda looks like a space ship, no?) This ink drawing is based on Protoperidium, a dinoflagellate notable for its ‘pallium feeding‘: upon finding something tasty but awkwardly-shaped, it extrudes a ‘feeding veil’ in the form of a pseudopod-like structure, which then envelops the prey [...]
There exists a wonderful book with an illustrated key to the more common protists you can find in freshwater: Free-Living Freshwater Protozoa by Paddy Patterson. However, as many good things in life, it is out of print and thus very expensive (though relatively cheap-ish in the above link at the time of writing this).
As penance for irregular posting, have a pair of seemingly-symbiotic rotifers in a cnidarian (jellyfish) polyp. There were several of them on several polyps, and they seemed not to mind the tentacles (loaded with stinging cells containing a harpoon-like weapon with paralytic abilities).
To keep things alive while I’m at an awesome conference (that you should follow on twitter, see previous post), let’s have a random image of tardigrade (water-bear) guts; the brown stuff is semi-digested food.
It’s that most wonderful time of the year again: the big protist conference season. Every year around this time, one or more of the protist societies hold meetings full of people who might actually understand and care about some of your research, minutiae or otherwise.
It's that most wonderful time of the year again: the big protist conference season. Every year around this time, one or more of the protist societies hold meetings full of people who might actually understand and care about some of your research, minutiae or otherwise.
Hijacking of the cell by its uninvited invaders is one of the coolest things in biology. Not only do these parasites leech off its food, they also ride along with the cell machinery itself — modifying parts of it for their own benefit, of course.
While we transition from paleontology back to protistology, let's make a short stop along the way. A stop in downtown Chicago, of all places. You know, the ideal place for finding living critters and fossils, right?
Yes, Indiana has coral reefs. More on that in a bit. A couple days ago I entered a trilobite doodling spree, and have come up with a sort of technique for drawing them.
Mystery Micrograph revival time! Y'all failed the previous one, but fear not -- there are plenty more to come! The subject of the last puzzle, shown below, is the surface of a testate amoeba -- namely, the organic test of Arcella spp.
Out in nature, you may notice that critters often like to be on top of one another, or inside one another. Of course, I'm talking about endo- and ectosymbioses (inside and on the surface, respectively).
Giardia is a cute flagellate with two nuclei, eight flowing flagella and an impressive sucker plate that makes it look rather like a catfish. Their elegant swimming patterns are reminiscent of one as well.
One night, when I was definitely completely sober in every way possible (of course!), it struck me that while both the European and Chinese zodiacs (ones I'm familiar with) display a nice variety of animals with and without backbones (I happen to be spineless according to the European one, and scaly and flame-breathing according to the Chinese version), somehow the ancients have missed out on a very major and obvious group -- the protists.
A quickie post to assure y'all I'm still around. Got a few proper posts coming soon! Remember our testate amoeba friends, the arcellinids? Here is a pair of Arcella s (Arcellae?) in the midst of division.
Bleary-eyed and staggering, many of us partake in a morning coffee ritual before mustering the courage to face the daily workload. In addition to psychoactive chemicals (drugs, anyone?), the coffee routine provides structure and emotional support -- rumours suggest it may be largely a placebo effect, but I won't go into that debate.
For me, the second more relaxing activity after microscopy is vector art. And then regular art. (This excludes non-activities, such as napping in the sun, and staring at life passing by.