|A Virtual Pond Dip||
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Name (genus): Hydra
Size : 4 - 30 mm including tentacles
Where to find them : Attached to surfaces like water plant stems and the undersides of floating leaves.
Notes : The Hydra is a very distinctive creature with its tentacles. If a jar of pond water with some weed is left to stand for a while, the hydra - if present, may be seen by eye attached to the wall of the jar, or the vegetation. They are often pale brown or green. The underside of floating weed like duckweed is a particularly good place to find them.
Hydra have many fascinating features, one in particular is that they can reproduce asexually by budding where a smaller hydra grows off the body of the adult and eventually separates. The tentacles have stinging cells which they use to capture prey like small water fleas. They are a classic organism for biology students to study as they are a representative member of the Phylum Cnidaria. The cnidarians are the most primitive animal where the cells are organised into different layers.
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Published in Micscape Magazine February 2001.
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All images © Wim van Egmond