The happiest little plankton in the world

Artist Hiné Mizushima makes these super adorable models of microscopic crustaceans called Daphnia out of felt. Scientists like to get the real-world versions of these creatures drunk, and use them to study how alcohol affects the nervous system. I suspect that Daphnia are cute drunks.

Via David Ng


  1. I can’t help looking at those happy little felt plankton and hearing a throaty voice say, “The Krusty Krab formula is mine! ALL MINE! HAHAHAHAH!!!”

      1. One compound and one simple eye.
        “……Daphnia tend to be almost kidney shaped, possessing only a single compound eye (though they have an ocellus, a simple eye)….”

        I don’t think they have enough band width to process depth perception information from two eyes, they just need to swim towards the light where they can find alga, euglenoids, and chlamydomonas.   Which would be a wise move for a multicellular animal like this because it would also be avoiding anoxic zones. 

          1.  The other common animal in this size class is the more shrimp like  Cyclops, often seen dragging around two clutches of eggs. Under the microscope, we usually see Daphnia from the side and Cyclops from above, so it’s clear Cyclops has only one eye.

            Some bacteria have rhodopsin and flagella and move vapidly towards light despite having no eye.    Insects have that pigment in a compound eye while we have it our retina, which evolved independently. Molluscs also have retinas but the structure is different, so it looks like the  eye evolved three times.

    1. From the Oxford English Dictionary:

      Floating or drifting organisms, esp. very small
      ones, found at various depths in the ocean and fresh water, comprising
      chiefly diatoms, protozoans, small crustaceans, and the eggs and larval
      stages of larger animals.

      I’m glad you asked, though, because I hadn’t even thought about it. And at one time I had a small tank of daphnia that I used to feed to my aquatic and semi-aquatic carnivorous plants (utricularia). I never thought to call them plankton at the time, but now I’m glad to know it would have been fine to do so.

    2. Plankton is a general term; many different organisms are called “plankton”. In the case of Plankton from Spongebob, presumably he is actually a Copepod, and they do have only a single eye (if they they have one at all, as some are eyeless).

  2. microscopic crustaceans called Daphnia

    They’re not really microscopic- even newborn ones can be seen with the naked eye. 

    I’ve never got one drunk, but I did intoxicate them with detergents as part of my PhD. Does that make me a bad person?

    By the way, ‘plankter’ is the singular of ‘plankton’.

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