Paramecium: Definition, Characteristics & Parts

Paramecium: Definition, Characteristics & Parts
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  • 0:04 Paramecium
  • 0:39 Parts & Their Purpose
  • 1:44 Fun Facts
  • 2:18 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ebony Potts

Ebony has taught middle and high school physical science, life science & biology. She's also been an assistant principal and has a doctorate in educational administration.

Have you ever heard of a paramecium? Do you know what a paramecium looks like or where it lives? In this lesson you will learn all about this organism, including some of its important characteristics.

Paramecium

You can't wait to get to science class today. Yesterday Mrs. Chen said that you were going to look at a paramecium under the microscope. When you get to class, you find what looks like beakers of cloudy water on each of the lab tables. When you ask where the organisms are, Mrs. Chen says that they're in the water.

Mrs. Chen demonstrates how to get the paramecia onto the slide so that you can view them under your microscope. Wow! Look at all those tiny organisms swimming in the water. Mrs. Chen asks you to observe the paramecia and write down your observations. You and your lab partner get started.

Parts & Their Purpose

A paramecium is a single-celled microorganisms that's a part of Kingdom Protista. Paramecia are slipper-shaped and nearly see through, which is why you had a hard time seeing them in the beakers of cloudy water.

Paramecia are covered in a protective pellicle that functions like skin and protects them from the elements. On the edges of the pellicle are the cilia, or tiny hair-like structures. The cilia assist paramecia with movement and sweep food toward the oral groove located in the middle of the paramecium's body. The oral groove functions like the mouth of the organism.

Paramecia are heterotrophs, which means that they eat other organisms to obtain energy. As you and your lab partner continue to observe the paramecia under the microscope, you notice that they dine on algae, bacteria, and yeast.

'Whoa!' you yell, as you watch one paramecium get attacked by another organism. Mrs. Chen tells you that it was probably a didinium, one of the most common predators of paramecia. It attacks the paramecium by shooting poison darts into it. After disabling the paramecium, the didinium eats it.

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