Amoeba (Encyclopedia of Science)
An amoeba (pronounced uh-MEE-buh) is any of several tiny, one-celled protozoa in the phylum (or primary division of the animal kingdom) Sarcodina. Amoebas live in freshwater and salt water, in soil, and as parasites in moist body parts of animals. They are composed of cytoplasm (cellular fluid) divided into two parts: a thin, clear, gel-like outer layer that acts as a membrane (ectoplasm); and an inner, more watery grainy mass (endoplasm) containing structures called organelles. Amoebas may have one or more nuclei, depending upon the species.
The word amoeba comes from a Greek word meaning "to change." The amoeba moves by continually changing its body shape, forming extensions called pseudopods (false feet) into which its body then flows. The pseudopods also are used to surround and capture foodainly bacteria, algae, and other protozoarom the surrounding water. An opening in the membrane allows the food particles, along with drops of water, to enter the cell, where they are enclosed in bubblelike chambers called food vacuoles. There the food is digested by enzymes and absorbed into the cell. The food vacuoles then disappear. Liquid wastes are expelled through the membrane.
Water from the surrounding environment flows through the amoeba's ectoplasm by a process called osmosis. When too much water accumulates in the cell, the excess is enclosed in a structure called a...
(The entire section is 630 words.)
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