Let’s start the morning with something cheery. Here’s an innocent little ciliate swimming about and then rupturing…organelles and cytoplasm spewing into the medium…and it struggles to hold itself together and the remnant swims away…to no avail. It finally just disintegrates.

Definitely a hard death.

Don’t cry. It doesn’t have a nervous system or consciousness.


  1. marinerachel says

    It makes a valiant effort to escape its own demise.

    The cilia slowly drifting away from what was the body they propelled forth are haunting.

  2. hemidactylus says

    Remind me again of the upsides in committing to multicellularity, sequestered germ lines, and division of labor toward specialized nerve cells that aggregate into nuclei and organize to facilitate contemplation of mortality and empathy for unicellular ciliates…

  3. cartomancer says

    I feel like that today.

    It’s the eighteenth anniversary of the day I fell in love, and the pain has just increased ever since. Half a lifetime of unrequited yearning for my best friend, swimming futilely through the streams of life, trailing away protoplasm until there’s nothing left of me. Shedding friends as they get fed up with me talking about it. Shedding self-esteem as every desperate attempt I make to replace him meets with abject failure, and I just get more gnarled and scalded inside. Shedding hope as each March the 24th rolls round and I am no closer to my beloved than I was nearly two decades ago.

    Sometimes I wish I hadn’t developed a nervous system and a sense of self either.

  4. paulparnell says

    I remember many many years ago as a kid I had a microscope. I saw round things that zipped around faster than you could follow. I saw long things that corkscrewed through the water. One thing I saw and never understood – a torus-shaped black or dark green object. I always assumed it was some kind of algae. It may have been just a conglomeration of organic matter. But it was very regular and reasonable common.

    Mystery in a single drop of duck pond water.

  5. Walter Solomon says

    Just yesterday I was reading about how alcohol kills bacteria. Apparently it denatures their proteins similar to cooked egg whites.

  6. Richard Smith says

    Some of you feel sorry for this ciliate. That is because you’re crazy! It has no feelings…

  7. cherbear says

    Apparently the new IKEA commercial is a complete 180 reversal about the lamp. Please, feel sorry for the lamp!!

  8. speedofsound says

    Back in the ’60’s ripped on acid, I got some pond water and my microscope out. I watched a rotifer for about four hours and had all sorts of mystical connections to him as I tried to figure him out. I had just discovered an eight track tape of Quicksilver Messenger Service and had it blasting on the Marantz Model 1000 Stereo Receiver. Then all of a sudden my whole field of vision froze, crystallized, and my rotifer died! He Died Man!! First I thought it was the acid. I had not counted on such a sudden evaporation of my slide well. I literally started crying.

    PZ. Not satisfied with your cause of death. Something happened and did it really happen that fast? Real time? Why did his little lipids fall apart? Senescence has reasons. Do we know them?

  9. mountainbob says

    My Biology 101 T-shirt has only five words: Life: Sexually Transmitted, Always Fatal. My end approacheth; don’t know when, where, or the proximal cause. But, it is certain. As certain as taxes for all but the very wealthy.