Watch Plankton "Harpoon" Their Prey
Is the bizarre blob in this video animal, vegetable, or mineral?
Actually, it's none of the above—these single-celled organisms are dinoflagellates, a type of protist that seems to bear more resemblance to aliens than to Earthly life forms.
“Looking at these cells under the microscope...they're like spaceships scudding around with armor-plated exteriors,” says Greg Gavelis, a biologist who researched these creatures while at the University of British Columbia. “They'll bump into each other, shoot little volleys of missiles at each other.”
In fact, these oceanic plankton are engaged in a heated arms race. Gavelis and his colleagues recently published a paper describing the especially warlike adaptations of two particular genera of dinoflagellates, Polykrikos and Nematodinium. (Read "Parasitic Bird Fights Evolutionary