Amoeba's Carapace Resembles Gandalf's Wizard Hat

Posted on February 20, 2017

Carapace of Arcella gandalfi resembles Gandalf's wizard hat

A newly discovered species of amoeba has been named after the wizard Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings. The microorganism has a carapace that resembles the wizard's hat. The carapace is a shell-like structure used by the amoeba to protect itself.

The species has been named Arcella gandalfi as a tribute to the wizard in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy series. The species was determined to be a new species based on biometric and morphological characterization. The researchers found that the characteristic funnel shape of A. gandalfi was unique among species belonging to the large genus Arcella. The diameter and height of its conical carapace averages 81 and 71 micrometers. It is light yellow to brown in color.

Daniel J. G. Lahr, a professor in University of Sao Paulo's Bioscience Institute Zoology Department and the principal investigator for the project, says in a statement, "The identification of a new species of microorganism in the Southern Hemisphere, as in the case of this amoeba, is very strong evidence that its geographic distribution is restricted to the region because Northern Hemisphere environments have been studied in far more depth. This is especially so for such a conspicuous species with a shape unlike any other."

A research paper on the amoeba was published here in the journal, Acta Protozoologica.

Image: Jordana C. Féres & Alfredo L. Porfírio Sousa