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iLabs: Rotifer Questions – Life Span and Chewing

August 19, 2012

Our rotifers continue to fascinate visitors and here are the answers to two new visitor questions on rotifers:

1) How Long Do Rotifers Live?

After researching a few sites here’s what we’ve found:

Female rotifers (and not all species of rotifers have both sexes) can live from a few days to about 45 days. For the few species that have males, they don’t do as well. Males last a couple of days. This is possibly due to the fact that their function is reproductive and as such, they don’t have the ability to eat and digest food.

2) How does the Mastax work?

This answer comes from the website: “Welcome to the Wonderfully Weird World of Rotifers by Richard L. Howey, and illustrated by Wim van Egmond

Rotifers possess a structure called a mastax which is unique in the animal kingdom. The mastax is a bulb-like structure consisting of many muscles which control a complex set of jaws which consists of hardened proteins; that is, the jaws are sclerotized and from tough, but slightly flexible structures rather like cuticle.

The jaw apparatus is called the trophi and it grinds the food brought down to it by the ciliary action. The trophi consists of a number of structures which show considerable variation. These structures can become quite complicated and there are minute ridges, crossbars, and protrusions on the small projections from the component parts that can be used to distinguish species, but in many cases are distinctive only at 1000 magnifications! So the taxonomy of rotifers, is as you can imagine, quite taxing. Every rotiferologist is hoping to win a trophy for finding a new kind of trophi. There are eight basic types of mastax and a good textbook on invertebrates will show you their morphology. I won’t bother you with the specifics here as they are readily available elsewhere and are really of interest only to those who develop a passionate interest in the fascinating details of rotifer morphology.”

Now…have no fear, we are not going to leave you wondering what the 8 types of mastax are!

If you are like us, having someone say “well there are 8 types but you probably don’t need to know them,” means we simply MUST know them. So without further delay, for those of you who also must know the 8 types of Mastax, you can go to the website:  Rotifers (Wheel Animalicules).

About 1/2 way down the page, there is an entire section on nutrition and in this section it tells you not only about the 8 types of mastax, but ALSO,  the 4 types of feeding methods!  So enjoy!

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