Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Saw this once in pond water

  1. Oct 12, 2005 #1
    This has always made me wonder. My father got a microscope in WWII and I used it a lot when I was a kid. We had a pond out back and I spent many hours looking at drops of pond water through it but only saw this once.

    One time I saw something for a few seconds and never saw anything like it again. It was about the same size as most of the rest of the microscopic living stuff in there, it was small. This thing was shaped like a ping pong paddle except that the handle came to a point, the paddle part was twisted. It corkscrewed through the water paddle first trailing the handle like a tail. That's why I only saw it for a few seconds, it moved fairly fast and I lost it. Strangest of all was that it was totally chlorophyl green. If this thing wasn't made of chlorophyl I would be surprised. I was under the impression that generally only plants have chlorophyl and they don't move around like an animal. Does anyone know what this is, has it ever been seen by anyone else?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 12, 2005 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I don't know exactly what you saw, but cyanobacteria and algae are also photosynthetic and would be found in pond water. iansmith might know more about the specific identification (assuming your eyes didn't deceive you when it sped by so quickly).
  4. Oct 13, 2005 #3
    It didn't move all that quick, I got a good look at it for a few seconds. The problem was that the depth of field was shallow and the magnification high and I had to move the slide by hand. It was moving down in the water too so it went out of focus quickly. I looked for it again for a while and couldn't find it. Nothing else was moving relative to it so I don't think it was in a moving current of water, it would not have corkscrewed if it was in moving water anyway.
  5. Oct 14, 2005 #4
    Plants are photosynthetic, but so are algae. Algae are not plants, they are in the Protista kingdom. Algae can be multicellular or unicellular. You almost certainly were looking at a motile alga.

    Basically, unicellular photosynthesizers predate multicellular photosynthesizers (including plants.) That makes sense, right? Protists have been around longer than plants or animals, and are very diverse. You've probably seen Euglena during some of your biology coursework - that's a protist and it's green, like the pingpong paddle you saw.

    Pond water is great to look at - it's one of our early labs in Micro and we never see the same things twice (except spyrogyra and volvox, which seem very ubiquitous.) Here are some neat pictures of other beautiful algae:

    Chlamydomonas: http://www.hull.ac.uk/php/maspd/research/algae_old/mr_alga.jpg

    Conjugating Spyrogyra: http://sps.k12.ar.us/massengale/images/spirog06.jpg

    Diatoms: http://sps.k12.ar.us/massengale/images/diatoms.jpg

    Dinoflagellate: http://sps.k12.ar.us/massengale/images/dinoflagellate4.jpg

    Euglena: http://sps.k12.ar.us/massengale/images/E_virid1.jpg
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2017
  6. Oct 14, 2005 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2017
  7. Dec 9, 2005 #6
    I am new to these forums and have been reviewing questions and comments within them. So might I offer a late suggestion as to what you may have observed. From the discription you gave it sound like Phacus, a protozoan belonging to the Phylum Mastigophora.

    Attached Files:

  8. Dec 9, 2005 #7


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Very nice picture Ken!

    Welcome to PF!
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook