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Extensions of your body that can change shape and help you catch food – sounds mysterious, doesn’t it? In this lesson, you will learn about pseudopods, which help tiny critters called protozoa move and capture food.

Pseudopods Defined

Imagine you are enjoying a summer day at the lake. You have been water skiing, tubing, and now you’re sitting on the beach watching the sunset. Meanwhile, a small monster is making its way to your brain. It entered your nose while you were in the water and is now using chemicals excreted by nerve cells to locate and consume your brain. It will take about 15 days before you show symptoms, but in the meantime, this deadly creature is using enzymes to dissolve your brain tissue.

You’ll be dead a week or so after your first symptoms.This brain-eating zombie is actually an amoeba, specifically known as Naegleria fowleri. Amoeba, like N. fowleri, are a diverse group of tiny organisms that use pseudopods for at least part of their life cycle. Pseudopods, or false feet, are projections that can appear and disappear from the organism’s body.

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The arrows in this picture are pointing to the pseudopods.
The arrows in this picture are pointing to pseudopods, which are engulfing the blue-colored prey.
pseudopod

Types of Pseudopods

Pseudopods come in many shapes and are on many different organisms, primarily protozoa, which are single-celled critters that have to consume food, unlike algae, which can make its own through photosynthesis. There are pseudopods that are like stubby fingers.

There are pseudopods that are long and thin, and there are even pseudopods that cross over each other, making a branching network.Euglypha is a type of protozoan that has long, thin pseudopods called filopodia, which can be seen here.

Radiolaria, another type of protozoan have long, thick pseudopods called axopodia. These are made from microtubules and may overlap

This is the brain-eating amoeba, a protozoan that has stubby, finger-like pseudopods called lobopodia.

This is the most common type of pseudopod.

Lesson Summary

Let’s review. Pseudopods, or false feet, are found in many protozoa from the brain-eating amoeba to the radiolaria.

Protozoa are single-celled critters that have to consume food. Although pseudopods come in a variety of shapes and forms, they have the same function in protozoa: movement and to capture prey.For example, the amoeba is able to change shape and move by pushing cytoplasm outward, creating pseudopods that act as an anchor to pull it forward. They also use the pseudopods to surround and capture prey.So, as you relax watching the sunset, and the brain-eating amoeba makes its way to your brain tissue, you might take solace in knowing that pseudopods are an adaptation that has given protozoa the ability to move to new locations and feed on exciting new foods, like your brain.

Learning Outcomes

After viewing this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Define pseudopods and explain how they relate to protozoa
  • Describe how movement is used when pseudopods hunt prey
  • Examine the different types of pseudopods – including the amoeba

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