Scientists have named a species of amoeba after Gandalf, a fictional character in JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings. Arcella gandalfi – a kind of thecamoeba discovered in Brazilian continental waters – was named after the wizard as it resembles the hat he wore.
The discovery is unique because the amoeba belongs to the genus Arcella, one of the largest genera of testate amoebae, scientists said. According to their study, published in the Acta Protozoologica journal, the species was considered large for a single-celled organism.
The team that made the discovery included researchers from the University of São Paulo, University of Maringá, and Parana State, among others. One of the members said the find was rare as amoeba were “very tiny and not widely studied”. “It is just one cell, and yet it’s capable of building this funnel-shaped carapace,” researcher Daniel J G Lahr told EurekaAlert.
The scientists have proposed the use of Arcella gandalfi as a flagship species, which are prime species for a specific ecosystem or habitat that become icons or an emblem of an environmental cause, EurekaAlert reported.