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||amoeba, amoebic, fission, paramecium, protist, shape-shifters, unicellular, engulf, cytoplasm, nucleus, well-known, detection, dysentery, tactics, various, particularly
By Cindy Grigg
1 Living things are made of cells. Some things consist of only one cell. They are called unicellular organisms. One of the simplest living things, an amoeba, is made of only one cell. Amoebas (sometimes spelled amebas or amoebae) are too small to be seen without a microscope, but they are commonly found in ponds and lakes. They are "shape-shifters" that sometimes appear as a round blob, sometimes appear to have feet, and sometimes appear to have arms that can surround their food. Amoebas are characterized by their flowing movements, considered to be the most primitive form of animal locomotion, or movement. Some are well-known parasites of plants, animals, and humans. It should be noted that amoeba are not animals; however, they are classified in the protist kingdom.
2 An amoeba's single cell appears to be not much more than cytoplasm held together by a flexible cell membrane. Floating in this cytoplasm, several kinds of cell bodies can be found. The most easily identified is the nucleus. Some species have only one nucleus; others may have hundreds of nuclei. The nucleus or nuclei control the growth and reproduction of the amoeba. Amoebas reproduce by fission, or splitting in two. The "parent" cell divides into two smaller copies of itself. The nucleus also divides into two. The cell membrane allows oxygen from the water the amoeba lives in to come into the cell and carbon dioxide to pass out of the cell. In this way, the amoeba "breathes."
3 Amoebas are able to change their shapes. They can extend parts of themselves into what are called pseudopodia and then flow in the direction in which they wish to go. Pseudopodia means "false feet." If they find something to eat, they can engulf it with their pseudopodia and pull themselves around it to digest it. They can "ooze" and surround their food by making their cytoplasm more liquid and able to flow.
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