Monster Tales from the 112 Lab

Hydra - Feeding Extension by ravenofdreams

Hydra - Feeding Extension by ravenofdreams

So today we did a bunch of cool stuff in our Biology 112 lab. We started out by prepping and inoculating some petri dishes with a couple different kinds of fungi.

Into our first four petri dishes, we inoculated some Arthrobotrys. Arthrobotrys is a genus of predacious fungus. We’ll give them a week to grow, and then next week we’re going to feed some nematodes to them. That’s pretty neat.

Two more dishes got one culture of wild Sordaria and one tan Sordaria for a cross. Two more got one wild and one gray.

Then the really monstrous critter stuff started.

We got a watchglass and a dissection microscope and put a little Hydra in it. We observed its behavior for a while, and then added a few Daphnia. Hydra feed on Daphnia. When the Daphnia comes close, the Hydra‘s tentacles grab it, and then sting it to death while it struggles. It was very cool to watch.

After that, we moved on to some pond water. We’d put a few drops of pond water onto a slide and check it out under the regular scope, and draw anything we saw moving around. I found some neat stuff, including a good size flatworm on one slidefull, and a few Urocetra (centrums?) on a few slides, a Diatom or two, a Ciliate that closely resembled a Paramecium (Doc II identified it as a Plagiopyla minuta or something close)…

It was all very small stuff, and I was busy chasing a Ciliate around the slide to try and get a good view of his cilia. They’re fast little buggers, and since the table mover knobs are on the right side of the scope, and I’m right handed, I was swapping between moving the table and making quick, partial sketches of what I saw. Everything was going along quietly when all of a sudden…

A species of Copepod, probably closely related to the Cyclops genus

A species of Copepod, probably closely related to the Cyclops genus

tried to jump off the slide and eat my face. I swear it did.

What you’re looking at is a species of Copepod. It’s pretty close to what I saw, and about as large as it seemed next to the really small organisms I had been observing at the time. It startled the hell out of me, and I said a few bad words rather loudly. These little guys jump around more than they swim, really, so it wasn’t there and then it was. And then it wasn’t. I tracked him around for a while (after the initial jump back and yell moment and subsequent recovery) and showed him off to Doc II and my labmates.

The sucker really looks like some alien face eating crawl-in-your-brain-and-take-over kinda bug thing from a horror movie, doesn’t it?

From whence came the art:

The Hydra image is titled Hydra – Feeding Extension, by ravenofdreams, and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 license.

The copepod image is from Ian York’s Increasingly Outdated Homepage.

4 Responses to “Monster Tales from the 112 Lab”

  1. Bob O'H Says:

    I’ve not done this (but one of my Special Agents has), but would adding some glycerin slow the ciliate down?

    I hope your family has read this – it looks like a good hint for your next birthday present.

  2. Lou FCD Says:

    Bob, we’d talked about just such a thing earlier in the semester, but somehow (probably because I am inexperienced and was just too fascinated) I didn’t think of asking about doing that.

    I like the way you think, though. I’m so making sure they read this…

  3. Raven Says:

    Glad to see that picture getting some use – especially somewhere as interesting as here. Anything else you want to know about hydra, just ask!


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