Questions for ‘Amoebas are crafty, shape-shifting engineers’


An amoeba (in orange) named Vampyrella lateritia finishes eating the contents of an algal cell (green). Though often overlooked, amoebas have an amazing range of unusual behaviors.

Sebastian Hess

To accompany feature “Amoebas are crafty, shape-shifting engineers”


Before Reading

1.  We’re surrounded by living creatures that we can’t see. What are some ways that tiny living things can affect your life, health or environment?

2.   Imagine that you could change your shape at will. Pick one activity in your day (for example, getting to school, playing a sport or eating a meal) and describe how having a flexible shape might change how you would do that activity.

During Reading

1.  What is one thing Dan Lahr and Jordana Féres have learned about the new amoeba species they described? What is one thing they still don’t know about it?

2.  According to Dan Lahr and Richard Payne, why might amoebas be overlooked by many researchers?

3.  What are three characteristics of amoebas?

4.  What is a pseudopod? Name two things that amoebas use them to do.

5.  What are five types of things amoebas eat?

6.  What is one similarity in how Viridiraptor invadens and Orciraptor agilis eat algae, based on the research by Sebastian Hess? What is one difference?  

7.  Why do scientists call Dictyostelium discoideum a “farmer” amoeba?

8.  What two differences did Debra Brock and her colleagues discover between farmer and non-farmer amoebas?

9.  What is a testate amoeba?

10.  What is one way that amoebas might be able to affect climate change?

After Reading

1.  If you wanted to try to find a new species of amoeba, where would you look? Why?

2.  Researchers in the article have hypothesized that the outer shells on some amoebas may protect these microbes from ultraviolet rays or keep them from drying out. Think of at least two possible ideas of your own for why some amoebas might have shells.