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Top life sciences micro photo: The rotifer, filtering water for food, like a vacuum cleaner


The first prize winner (among 2000) in the Olympus microscopic photo contest at MSNBC (here) is the tiny, apparently “wheel-headed” animal, the bdelloid rotifer, Floscularia ringens:

Even more striking are the “ears” of a rotifer. These structures, which measure 300 microns or 0.012 inch from one edge to the other, make up the marine animal’s corona. Tiny hairs on the corona, known as cilia, sweep at lightning speed to direct water containing bits of food into the rotifer’s mouth. “When you see this in life, those things are spinning so fast that they look like two little wheels on top,” Krebs said.

“One of the most striking things to me is the little domicile, the tube that it builds. Each individual ‘brick,’ if you will, is made by the rotifer.”

You can see a brick, ready to be added, in the photo.

Here is a rotifer at work, filtering:

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