Field of Science

Like, Wow. Just... Wow.

This is something I saw this morning at Small Things Considered, that I thought was just so spectacularly brilliant that I just had to copy it:

One hundred and sixty-seven species of ciliate, artfully arranged and all drawn to scale, from the gigantic Stentor to the sinuous Homalozoon to the infinitesimal Cinetochilum. The image comes from here, where not only can you see it in its full glory, but you'll find the key to the numbering that tells you what each one of these marvels is. The species are partially arranged in line with their chosen habitats - those towards the top left are found in the open water column in lakes, those around the centre of the bottom are anaerobes, while the others make their homes among sediment. And there's even little extra bits of detail hidden within - see if you can find the Chilodonella crawling along the Epistylis stalk, for instance. Enjoy!

Then if you're in the mood for more details on ciliates, including comments on their mind-blowingly complicated genetic system, take a look at my earlier posts here and here. And if anyone is feeling really generous and wants to get this printed out as a wall poster for me...


  1. For a second I thought the spam comment above was going to be about delivery of ciliates... >_>

    When I came across that, first thing I did was print it off and put it in a sheet protector and then show off to every person I saw...! My parents weren't particularly impressed >.<

    If anyone's interested, here's an essay on ciliate genome madness I wrote for protistology class:

    It contains the word 'orgy' in it =P

    What's shoking is when I came to bug our resident ciliatologist with ciliate questions, he afterwards told me I was the first student in the last DECADE to approach him about the subject =( He had to shut his lab down partly due to lack of student interest (and partly due to biomed and genomics fads essentially displacing most classical biology >.< )

    [random fact] did you know that Stentor can 'spit out' its oral apparatus upon sudden change in sucrose concentration? [/random fact]

  2. Spam? What spam? I see no spam (thanks to the wonders of the "delete comment" function). And I'm more amazed that you even have a "resident ciliatologist".

    I didn't know about Stentor, but one of my earlier posts does include the mind-blowing factoid that a feeding Euplotes is able to generate the equivalent of twice its cell surface in vacuole membrane over the course of five minutes! That's like a human swallowing a Mini Cooper.

  3. Well, our department was once home to Tom Cavalier-Smith himself; just around the corner from my current workplace =P

    Our ciliatologist worked on Paramecium cell cycle stuff -- really fascinating! Reviewed here, if interested.

    He also told me some hypotrichs, like Euplotes, after being messed with (eg. surgically fused into doublets) can encyst (and lose all cortical markings) normally and then RETAIN the cortical deviations upon excystment, somehow. No one really knows how it works, but evidence is pointing to some really unique and special cortical organisation mechanism.

    Hypotrichs do gene scrambling too. And they're fucking CUTE! I think Euplotes and Stylonichia should fight it out amongst themselves for the Crown Eukaryote status. Seriously. All life is just basal to ciliates...

    I should probably stop procrastinating with pouring media and extracting DNA... I came to lab specifically to get work done, and thus just wasted 2h on blogs and printing off giant reviews that have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with my immediate research. That microbiol blog you linked had a link to a paper on ciliate-prokaryote relationships... damn you! >.<

    It's kinda hard to shift attention from ciliates to Arabidopsis... >_>


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