Tag Archives: ostracod

A life in a pond – amazing timelapse video

If you’ve ever looked at a pond and thought “Well, not much really going on here”, you couldn’t have been further from the truth. As this fantastic video created by Daniel Stupin shows, a lot is happening even in apparently still ponds.

The hidden life in pond water from Daniel Stoupin on Vimeo.

If you’re interested in reading more about he creates this kind of video (and microphotography), it’s well worth checking out his blog – lots of great info there.

Ok, so what are we seeing here exactly?


Water fleas are not related to fleas at all – they are small crustaceans virtually ubiquitous in inland aquatic habitats. They have a single eye, reproduce mostly asexually, and can survive extremely harsh conditions and habitats.

Bryozoa are a phylum of aquatic invertebrate animals. Typically about 0.5 millimetres (0.020 in) long, they are filter feeders that sieve food particles out of the water. Almost all live in colonies made up of animals with specialist roles that could not survive on their own. Freshwater species, like the ones in the video, are hermaphrodites.

Mayflies are famous (or infamous?) for their extremely short lives, which are oftentimes present in poetry. They are part of an ancient group of insects termed the Palaeoptera, which also contains dragonflies and damselflies.

Mosquitoes are well known by almost everybody, but not so many people know that out of the 3500 mosquito species, only a few species actually suck on blood. Most of them feed on pollen, and even in the species which do suck blood, it’s only the pregnant females who need the protein to hatch their eggs.

Water mites are a group of mites containing over 5,000 species found in freshwater habitat. They are related to spiders.

Ostracods are a remarkable old group, which have recently provided the oldest example of parental care – 450 million years ago.

Ciliates, which you can also see in this video, are not technically animals, but rather single-celled protazoans, although the larger ones can be longer than some of the smaller animal species Stoupin has captured.

Hydra are radially symmetric predators which look like plants more than animals. A while ago, we told you about a hydra species which apparently doesn’t age, and is the world’s only immortal animal.

New fossil shows 450 million years old mother love

An international team of geologists captured a prehistoric portrait of parental care deep in the fossil record. The team led by Leicester geologist Professor David Siveter revealed a ‘sea nursery’ which features a species new to science.

This new species was found with specimens preserved incubating their eggs together with probable hatched individuals. As a result, the team has named the new species Luprisca incuba after Lucina, goddess of childbirth in Roman mythology, alluding to the fact that in these ancient fossils, the mother literally sits on the eggs.

This fossil find not only highlights a remarkable reproductive and brood-care strategy conserved for at least 450 million years, but it is also the oldest confirmed occurrence of ostracods in the fossil record. Ostracods are a class of crustaceans sometimes known as seed shrimp. Some 70,000 species have been identified, and they are still alive today. Ancient ostracods lived alongside trilobites in poorly oxigenated waters

Professor Siveter, Emeritus Professor of Palaeontology at the University of Leicester, said:

“This a very rare and exciting find from the fossil record. Only a handful of examples are known where eggs are fossilized and associated with the parent. This discovery tells us that these ancient tiny marine crustaceans took particular care of their brood in exactly the same way as their living relatives.”

The new fossils are truly spectacular! They measure 2-3 mm in length, and are exceptionally well preserved – conserving not only the shell but also the soft parts of the animal that are almost always lost in the fossil record.

Journal Reference:

  1. David J. Siveter, Gengo Tanaka, Úna C. Farrell, Markus J. Martin, Derek J. Siveter, Derek E.G. Briggs. Exceptionally Preserved 450-Million-Year-Old Ordovician Ostracods with Brood Care. Current Biology, 13 March 2014 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.02.040