Arcella Gandalfi: New Amoeba Species Named After Gandalf In The Lord Of The Rings

Posted: Feb 9 2017, 10:20am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 

Arcella Gandalfi: New Amoeba Species Named After Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings
Researchers identify a microorganism with a carapace that resembles the wizard's hat worn by Gandalf. Image Credit: Jordana C. Féres & Alfredo L. Porfírio Sousa
  • Novel Type of Amoeba has a Title taken Straight from The Lord of the Rings
 

A novel type of amoeba has a title that has been taken straight from The Lord of the Rings. That is because it has a shell that resembles Gandalf’s hat.

Termed “Thecamoebians”, this particular species of microbiota consist of 30-45 different types of amoebae. They inhabit all water systems around the globe yet their mainspring is South America.

Via the evolutionary process, these amoebae have built up a carapace that protects them from predators and all sorts of dangers. A new species of this amoeba has been identified that has a carapace that resembles the wizard’s hat worn by Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings.  

As everybody knows, Gandalf is the most famous character in the book (a movie of which has been made) by J.R.R. Tolkien. The new amoeba has been named Arcella gandalfi. The novel species was described in detail in the scientific journal Acta Protozoologica recently.

Such novel amoebae are not brought under focus due to the fact that they are very small in size. The taxonomists are also not very conversant with the ins and outs of this type of novel amoeba. The hub where these amoebae are found is Brazil. 

The number of samples of these amoebae are so limited in quantity though that they defy any observational analysis. The few shelled amoebae that were caught were sent to the lab for probing by being placed at the other end of a microscope.

The classic funnel-like shape of A. gandalfi was singular in its variety. The hue of this amoeba was from pale yellow to brown. Although this species is small, among unicellular organisms, it is quite large when seen on a comparative basis. Even though this organism is single-celled, it is capable of forming a carapace.   

In fact, the shape of this amoeba’s carapace is like an Asian rice paddy hat. Researchers are still wondering as to what purpose the carapace serves in this species of amoeba.

For one thing, it is made of silicon and organic materials. These are exuded by the cell. It may offer safety from predators. Yet many scientists are skeptical about this.

They say that this amoeba is eaten by its predators despite its shell. They hypothesize that the tough carapace may prevent the amoeba from undergoing any desiccation.

The humidity within the shell keeps the amoeba alive and well. Also it may defend the amoeba from ultraviolet rays which are harmful to it. 

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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