MAREK MIS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MAREK MIS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Polarised light micrograph of a Vorticella sp. peritrich ciliate protozoan. Rows of cilia (microscopic hairs) and an undulating membrane create a current of water which directs food towards the buccal cavity (mouth opening, upper left). Vorticella are sessile, meaning they attach to a surface and cannot move around on their own. When disturbed, they contract their stalk into a tight coil. This contraction is one of the fastest known actions in the animal kingdom. Magnification: x670 when printed 10 centimetres tall.
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