Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.
The WOLF school has been exploring life in a few drops of pond water. While trying to photograph some tiny pond pygmy backswimmers flitting around in a single drop, I came across these indistinct creatures. I could tell they were alive by the motion in their body in the video, but I could not make out any distinct features with my crude equipment. I sent the video to Dr. David Bowles who identified them as water fleas of the Cladocera order of crustaceans.
|Dorsal view - Click to enlarge|
It has a translucent carapace covering all but the small head, showing all the internal organs. The green dots are eggs, something it produces usually on its own (parthenogenesis) except when under harsh conditions when it reverts to sexual reproduction as described in the Kansas Naturalist. I can make out its single compound eye, mounted above the beak-like rostrum like a early prototype of a Cyclops.
|From the Kansas Naturalist|
As a herbivore, water fleas are at the very base of the food chain, the first consumers as well as some of the smallest prey of the tiny pygmy back swimmers we have been studying. ..... and so ad infinitum.