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New amoeba named after Gandalf

Arcella Gandalf. © Jordana C. Féres & Alfredo L. Porfírio Sousa 2016
Arcella Gandalf. © Jordana C. Féres & Alfredo L. Porfírio Sousa 2016

Researchers in Brazil have named a newly-discovered amoeba after Gandalf, due to its resemblance with Gandalf’s hat.

Scientists at the Bioscience Institute of University of São Paulo, in conjunction with a range of other researchers, have discovered a brand new species of amoeba which they named Arcella gandalfi due to its similarity with Gandalf’s hat.

The arcella genus contains freshwater amoebas, with the A. gandalfi being a particularly large example. Found in several places throughout Brazil, its carapace (or shell) has a shape not too dissimilar from Gandalf’s hat, hence the name. Within the study of amoeba, this is a significant find. Professor Daniel J. G. Lahr of the Zoology Department at the University of São Paulo said:

“The identification of a new species of microorganism in the Southern Hemisphere, as in the case of this amoeba, is very strong evidence that its geographic distribution is restricted to the region because Northern Hemisphere environments have been studied in far more depth. This is especially so for such a conspicuous species with a shape unlike any other.”

About the Author: Shaun Gunner
Shaun is the current Chair of The Tolkien Society. Elected in 2013, Shaun regularly speaks about adaptations of Tolkien's works whilst passionately believing the Society needs to reach out to new audiences. In his spare time can be found in the cinema, playing video games and Lego, or on Twitter.