A mystery ciliate identified

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A mystery ciliate identified

#1 Post by actinophrys » Fri Aug 28, 2015 4:00 am

Hello all. I haven't had much to post here; I have my own page for photos, have been idle for videos, and both are rather less spectacular than what you find here anyway. But I thought some might enjoy a repost of a video from the old forum, since there is now much more to say about it.

I had originally put this up as Tube-forming ciliate, thinking it was collecting material to form a sort of lorica. It turns out, maybe obviously in hindsight, this is really just debris heaped up by the way it drills for food. Even so the behaviour seems peculiar, and there is good reason none of us recognized it at the time.

In that puddle I had only seen the one. This last September I found a similar puddle where they were very plentiful, and was able to get slightly better images, which supported them as unusual hypotrichs (as called by Berger) or stichotrichs (as called by Lynn). I had been advised that if I found more, I could get in touch with ciliatologist Dr. Bill Bourland, and we arranged that I would ship him a jar in hopes some would survive.
Atractos.jpg (47.59 KiB) Viewed 1616 times
This went better than I could have hoped. They arrived fine and as the video title says, he identified them as Atractos contortus, a genus which had not been reported in decades. From this sample he has given them a full modern redescription, placing them in their own family Atractosidae; his paper is here for those with journal access. I am flattered to say this same video is now included as a supplement.

This probably counts as bragging - which I hope you will forgive, since surely if there were any place for it, it would be here - but hopefully also a positive example of how far our hobby can go. There is a lot to be discovered and many places to be explored, and with close attention even amateurs may have a chance to make real contributions.

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Re: A mystery ciliate identified

#2 Post by 75RR » Fri Aug 28, 2015 10:32 am

Congratulations! Both on the video and on giving Protistology a step up.
Had thought amateur contributions were effectively limited to the 19th Century. No longer.

Agree that (without the information you supplied) it did indeed look like it was building a Lorica of some sort.

I know modesty precludes that you should mention your excellent site, so I will do so:

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Re: A mystery ciliate identified

#3 Post by gekko » Fri Aug 28, 2015 10:52 am

Congratulations! I cannot do better than repeat what 75RR said above.

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Re: A mystery ciliate identified

#4 Post by Crater Eddie » Fri Aug 28, 2015 12:24 pm

Congratulations! Well done!
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Re: A mystery ciliate identified

#5 Post by vasselle » Fri Aug 28, 2015 2:23 pm

Cordialement seb
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Re: A mystery ciliate identified

#6 Post by jwsmith » Fri Aug 28, 2015 3:37 pm

NO BETTER EXAMPLE...!!!.... how digital video e n l a r g e s and c o m p l e t e s any view of "The Thing In It's Environment"...!!!....
No "still picture" would have conveyed an accurate picture.....how this guy lives and does business.

He "mines" organic debris and deposits it upon himself as camoflage.
I'd think a mosquito larvae or cyclops would have a hard time "getting" him.


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Re: A mystery ciliate identified

#7 Post by zzffnn » Fri Aug 28, 2015 4:45 pm

Outstanding work, Josh! Thank you for sharing with us. You have an excellent web site too.

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Re: A mystery ciliate identified

#8 Post by actinophrys » Sat Aug 29, 2015 7:28 pm

Kind thanks, everyone. :)
75RR, I did allude to my page and it's linked from my profile and vimeo, but I much appreciate the explicit endorsement!

jwsmith, how much this is protective is I think an interesting question. The earthworks might be an artifact of being on a slide, and the ciliates didn't always stick with them, ploughing odd little trails as they hurried off. But then, the Maryna present didn't always stay with their protective tubes either, so that's hard to interpret.

Maybe more telling is that the Atractos were common some distance into the sediment, burrowing below the puddle. The main predators I found were floating or film-bound suctorians, so besides whatever food there is underneath, tunnelers would certainly be out of reach of these or of larger arthropods like you say.

When this species was first discovered by Vörösváry it was in a very different place, a Hungarian stream. He thought their drilling might be a case of avoiding light, but Bourland's tests suggested that was probably not happening with the ones here.

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Re: A mystery ciliate identified

#9 Post by lukem321 » Sun Aug 30, 2015 6:39 pm

Amazing! It is instances like these that make the hobby worthwhile to me.

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