Small single-celled amoebae hardly ever cause much excitement in the science world. A certain type of amoeba in Brazil look like different versions of Gandalf’s hat. Scientists have suspected the organism, named Arcella gandalfi in honor of the mighty wizard in Lord of the Rings, is a new species. Until recently, however, there haven’t been enough specimens to collect for observation,
Biologist Jordana de Carvalho e Feres changed the situation when she looked at water samples collected in Rio de Janeiro and Amapa, Large groups of the microscopic lifeform appeared in the water. She teamed up with University of Sao Paulo Professor Daniel J.G. Lahr to further research the amoebae and their hat-like shell.
If you’ve used a microscope, you know how careful you must be while adjusting the view. The scientists used an electron microscope to measure and photograph the gandalfi samples. They discovered the organism is about twice as tall as its disk-shaped Arcella cousins.
Scientists now have the task of deciding the purpose of the hat-shaped carapace. Possibilities include UV protection from the sun and a way to store moisture for protection against low water levels.
Jeffrey Shoo, DGOnews, 4/20/17 Wizard Hat Amoeba Named After Gandalf From The Lord of the Rings, https://www.dogonews.com/2017/3/3/wizard-hat-amoeba-named-after-gandalf-from-the-lord-of-the-rings