Amoeba, dinoflagellates, Euglena, diatoms, Chlamydomonas, myxomycetes – these are familiar names from various groups I had learnt about in my time.
However, advances in molecular and structural biology had thrown the old order into disarray. After the dust had settled, all of these could not be fit into the kingdoms of fungi, plants or animals.
So the protists are a cupboard of curiosities – any eukaryotic microroganism we are unable to stuff into those kingdoms, we toss here.
Many moons ago, the Wikipedia entry on the protists directed me to Harper & Benton’s excellent (2009) “Introduction to Paleobiology and the Fossil Record” (dutifully ordered for the Science Library). There they suggest that we best regard protists as “a loose grouping of 30 or 40 disparate phyla with diverse combinations of trophic modes, mechanisms of motility, cell coverings and life cycles.”
Okay. I get the picture.
In the first year biodiversity module, protists are usually provided one of my most energetic performances because they are otherwise neglected. We have only one module to expose to students to all of biodiversity so there is no time it seems for students to lose themselves behind a microscope, peering into a water sample from some nearby water body.
Well, Brandon Seah on a hiatus has been collecting water samples, peering through a microscope, taking videos and photographs and fired up iMovie for some fun, before populating wordpress with “Protists in Singapore – the Illustrated Guide to Microscopic Life in the City, http://sgprotist.wordpress.com“.
The site includes a very useful guide for budding scientists about “How to find and study protists.”
Today Brandon announced his new website on The Biology Refugia. I’m glad he has put this up and hope he continues to work on it and encourage protistological investigations in Singapore.
After all, “the little things matter too.”