Alexey Polilov

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ScienceShot: Amoeba-Sized Insect Is Missing Some Pieces

You can't shrink down to the size of an amoeba without losing parts of yourself. That's the lesson one researcher is taking away from a microscopic analysis of the fairy wasp (Megaphragma mymaripenne), which at a mere 200 micrometers in length is one of the world's smallest animals (shown compared to a paramecium and amoeba above). When the scientist compared the neurons of adult and pupae fairy wasps, he discovered that more than 95% of adult neurons lack a nucleus. The findings, reported online this month in Arthropod Structure & Development, suggest that while a complete set of neurons is needed to grow, far less are required to live. And that helps the wasp shrink so small that it can avoid most predators and invade the eggs of other insects.

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