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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.
"Like precautions must be taken against swampy places for the same reasons and particularly because as they dry, swamps breed certain animalculae which cannot be seen with the eyes and which we breathe through the nose and mouth into the body where they cause grave maladies."
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
- 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.