This is a dark field microscope photo of the larva of a fresh water invertebrate called Cyclops. The name comes from the Cyclops of Greek mythology that had one eye. You can see the single red eye on this larva which is retained in its larger adult form. The Cyclops belongs to one of the three orders of the class of aquatic creatures known as Copepods. Marine Copepods are the most abundant multicellular animals on earth and though tiny, serve as the major food source for many fish and even wales. Fresh water Copepods are small crustaceans which include water fleas and shrimps of various kinds. The Cyclops is the most common fresh water genera of Copepods which consists of over 400 species. The larva seen here is microscopic in size but adults can be seen with the unaided eye measuring from ½-5 mm long (a millimeter being about the thickness of a dime). Typical of metamorphosis in crustaceans and other arthropods, the Cyclops larva is unsegmented while the adult looks very different with a large head, two long antennae and a segmented thorax and tail.To enjoy watching living Cyclops, protozoa, rotifers, and many other microscopic organisms be sure to attend a “Microscarium” workshop with Dr. Menton. For more information, visit our Online Events Calendar at creationmuseum.org.
The orange/red eyespot gets its color from carotenoid pigments which are overlain by complex photoreceptor proteins which sense light. In addition to complex photoreceptor proteins, eyespots contain a few hundred structural and signaling proteins. All of this needs to be integrated with motile apparatus of the legs of the Cyclops allowing it to move in response to light signals. Suffice it to say, the Cyclops eye is not a “simple eye”—indeed there is no such thing as a simple eye.