Life as We Know It
Whale of a comeback, dancing cockatoos, sticky bees, and waltzing pond scum
- By Amanda Bensen, Joseph Caputo, T.A. Frail, Laura Helmuth and Abigail Tucker
- Smithsonian magazine, July 2009
(Knut Drescher and Raymond E. Goldstein, University of Cambridge)
Volvox are single-celled algae that live in spherical colonies containing thousands of cells. When the cells twirl their flagella, the whole colony spins. Now biophysicists in England and Japan say Volvox colonies interact in unexpected ways. In a "waltz", they revolve around each other. In a "minuet," they hover farther apart. The scientists speculate that the coordinated movements increase the chances of cross-colony fertilization.
Learn more about Volvox algae at the Encyclopedia of Life.