The Salinella server
There's no real particular reason but this particular animal has always intrigued me. The link between single celled animal like protists and the multicellular metazoans is one that's really not well understood and there have been many theories on just how this transition occurred. Of course what is missing are living intermediates, or fossils of ancient forms that represent this stage in the evolution of animals.
Salinella meets a number of necessary criteria for the ancient ancestor. A single ball of cells covered in cilia, but with a mouth and anus and the inside hollow space working as a digestive tract. It was first discovered by Frenzel in 1892 in Argentine salt beds, but has never been seen or found since. As Brusca and Brusca point out "there is a serious question about the accuracy of the original description, and we caution you that Salinella may have existed more in Frenzel's mind rather than in Argentine!"
Salinella is an elusive missing link for Zoology and may well be as elusive as the effective use of these technologies in higher education. I hope that, unlike Frankel, that the importance of these tools is not in my imagination.
© Jon G. Houseman. Permission required to reproduce or display this material