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Animalcule ("little animal", from Latin animal + the diminutive suffix -culum) is an older term for a microscopic animal or protozoan. The concept appears to have been understood at least as early as c. 30 BC, as evidenced by the following translation from Marcus Varro's Rerum Rusticarum Libri Tres:
'Note also if there be any swampy ground, both for the reasons given above, and because certain minute animals, invisible to the eye, breed there, and, borne by the air, reach the inside of the body by way of the mouth and nose, and cause diseases which are difficult to be rid of.'
Some better-known animalcules include:
- Actinophrys, and other heliozoa, called sun animalcules
- Amoeba, called Proteus animalcule
- Noctiluca scintillans, commonly called the 'Sea Sparkles'
- Paramecium, called slipper animalcules
- Rotifers, called wheel animalcules
- Stentor, called trumpet animalcules
- Vorticella, and other peritrichs, called bell animalcules
- Storr-Best, Lloyd (1912). Varro on farming. M. Terenti Varronis Rerum rusticarum libri tres. London: G. Bell and Sons. p. 39.
- Buckley, Don MSc; Miller, Zipporah MA(Ed); Padilla, Michael J PhD; Thornton, Kathryn PhD; Wysession, Michael PhD (2012). Indiana Interactive Science Grade 7. p. 500.
- "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General". Paragraph #2.