Giant Daphnia at the Detroit Zoo!

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What animals/organisms do you know that live in a lake? The answers I got during Family Day at the Detroit Zoo were pretty much the same (whether I asked a 5 year old, a 10 year old or a 35 year old person!) fish, plants, ducks…and when asked if they ever heard of water fleas or Daphnia? Most people where surprised to know that a weird looking animal that looks like my masterpiece above, but really really really tiny lives in lakes and are important for lake ecosystems. Since Daphnia are tiny, and only easy to clearly see under a microscope, I decided to make this “gigantic” Daphnia so that kids can really appreciated the beauty of working with them. They could clearly see through some of the main organs but visitors were mainly surprise about 2 things: 1) when they saw a picture of a real Daphnia kids were amazed to see the incredible resemblance (not to brag!!!) of my Daphnia to a real Daphnia. Second they were really stoked to learn that as babies Daphnia have 2 eyes, but when they grow their eyes fused into one. Besides learning basic Daphnia 101 on my booth, visitors also got a glimpse into my research on how different diets impact parasitism (I will blog on a different day on how I got this message through!).

This lady had her debut on May 13 and will have other appearances some time in August again the Detroit Zoo so stay tuned on where you can find her!

posted by Kristel