4 Creatures You Can See With Your Own Microscope!

{♫Intro♫} You might have been one of those lucky kids
that, on your eighth birthday, got a microscope to tinker with. Maybe it came with some pre-made slides of
hairs or onion root tips to introduce you to the world of the tiny. But they were just the beginning. And if you missed out as a kid, it’s not
too late. If you’re interested in making your very
own foray into the world of microscopy, here are some of the creatures you might be able
to spot with a home microscope — and what they can teach us. First off, let’s look at how microscopes
let us see all these weird and wonderful little things. You’re probably picturing a basic upright
microscope, aka a compound microscope, and that’s exactly the kind we’re thinking
of. Right at the base of the microscope is a light
that shines up through a condenser lens, which concentrates the light onto whatever you’re
looking at. The image then shines up through an objective,
which magnifies the picture. The general setup looks kind of like one of
those old-school overheadl projectors. Then the lens in the eyepiece — the part
you have your eye squished against — magnifies the image one last time. Depending on your microscope, these parts
can do other things — but this is the general idea. So the total amount a microscope can blow
an image up is the magnifying power of the objective lens multiplied by the power of
the eyepiece. The kind of microscope you’d be able to
keep at home is generally able to magnify things up to around one thousand times. Microscopes more powerful than that exist,
but unless you got a lot of scratch to throw down, not super available for a hobbyist. One of the creatures you might spot looks
like a mix between a shovel, a vacuum cleaner, and a jellyfish. They’re not animals, plants, or fungi. Instead, they’re a kind of single-celled
protist. Which is actually just a term microbiologists
use to refer to any organism whose cells have a nucleus, but… isn’t an animal, plant,
or fungus. More specifically, Giardia lamblia is a protozoan
— another catch-all term that refers to protists that look more like animals than fungi or
plants. It’s also a parasite known for causing the
nasty diarrheal disorder giardiasis. Giardia are found all over the world, so you
could certainly find them in your backyard. But you might want to be careful. That’s because they have a sneaky way of
getting past our body’s immune defenses to cause infection. They have what are called variant-specific
surface proteins, or VSPs, on the surface of their bodies. This dense coat of proteins acts as a kind
of shield against the acid in our stomachs and the enzymes in our intestines. Giardia also constantly change these proteins
to match the digestive enzymes of a particular host animal or to evade their host’s immune
system. It’s sort of like a protein disguise, lie
they’re wearing camo suits that are also bulletproof. They have these protein disguises because
the host’s immune system normally creates antibodies that can bind to the surface of
invading parasites and signal the body to attack. But it has trouble keeping up with Giardia’s
constantly shifting coat. And in 2019, scientists found a way to use
this trick to our advantage — at least in mice. See, some scientists are working toward developing
oral vaccines — ones we can swallow instead of getting a shot. Not only would that be better for all the
needle-phobes out there, but oral vaccines could also be easier to distribute in the
event of a pandemic. You don’t have somebody give you a shot
in the arm you just get them… someone hands them to you and moves on. But this is way easier said than done, because
the harsh conditions of our stomachs are designed to wear down things, and the parts of the
vaccine that trigger an immune response get pretty much digested before they can get to
work. So this study used VSPs as a protective shield
for an oral influenza vaccine. First, the researchers showed that Giardia
VSPs can hold up in conditions similar to the human gut by bombarding them with digestive
enzymes and acids. Then, they gave mice an oral influenza vaccine
protected by VSPs. Four weeks later, they exposed
those mice to the flu. The mice that had been given a vaccine protected
by VSPs showed no signs of infection. Mice who received an unprotected version didn’t
fare quite so well. Even better, the VSPs seemed to work as an
adjuvant — a substance that’s sometimes added to vaccines to make the immune response
more effective. The next stop is to determine whether this
approach works in humans. If so, it’s a pretty promising first step
toward oral vaccines. Not bad for a gut parasite. Like Giardia, amoebas are protists. They’re a pretty diverse group and can be
found nibbling on rotting vegetation at the bottom of freshwater ponds — and lots of
other places you might care to look. Or sometimes in our intestines. Even though they look like single-celled blobs,
they actually have more in common with animals than single-celled creatures like bacteria
or archaea. And just because they’re a single cell doesn’t
mean they don’t have some cool tricks up their sleeves. For one, they can create temporary arms or
legs to help them move or feed. They do this by extending and retracting blobs
called pseudopodia from their tiny single-celled bodies. When moving, these pseudopodia grab onto a
surface, and then the rest of the body contracts to move in that direction. When eating, the temporary limbs grab bacteria
instead — or whatever the amoeba wants to munch on. Then the food is engulfed by the amoeba’s
membrane and brought directly into the cell through a process called phagocytosis. For smaller particles, an amoeba can encase
a little bubble of nutrients and surrounding fluid through a similar process known as pinocytosis. And it’s this style of eating that leads
to amoebas’ second trick: dodging the immune systems of larger creatures… like humans. See, some amoebas can cause disease. Like Entamoeba histolytica, which can cause
pretty nasty intestinal problems and even lead to death. Instead of just feasting on bacteria, these
guys have a fondness for human tissue. They lodge themselves inside us, usually in
the intestine, and nibble away at our cells, taking tiny bites until those cells die. This feeding process has yet another name:
trogocytosis. As well as getting a nutritious meal, amoebas
pick up proteins from the outside of our cells that they then wear like a mask to hide from
our immune system. Unlike what we know about VSPs, this disguise
actually tricks the immune system into recognizing the amoeba as one of our own cells. That protection allows amoebas to travel around
the body through our bloodstream and infect other organs, like the liver. But exactly how amoebas go from nibbling a
chunk of cell to wearing some of the proteins from that cell isn’t yet understood. Like, does the amoeba just stick the proteins
on its surface somehow, or does it do something to process them first? Answering these questions could help us understand
how they make us sick — and how to stop them. The third microscopic creature on our list
has the potential to help us clean up our oceans, rivers and ponds, and doesn’t hurt
us! Yay! Rotifers are aquatic invertebrate animals
found in many places, including fresh water and moist soil. In fact, you might find some in your backyard
if you look at some water from moss or your gutter under the microscope. And yes, they are animals, even though they
don’t look much like cats or fish or humans. You can still pick out a basic animal body
plan if you look closely. They have a head, neck, trunk and foot — and
even an eyespot and toe. Oh, and did we mention they wear crowns? They’re like royalty…. These little guys are filter feeders, meaning
they suck in water from their surroundings and pull out bits of organic matter to munch. And their crowns are actually little finger-like
parts called cilia that sweep water into their mouths. Their amazing filtering ability made rotifers
the inspiration for a cyborg that cleans contaminated water in one 2019 study. The advantage of using tiny robots, instead
of a stationary filter, is that they can move around and mix the water up, which speeds
up the clean-up process. Which is important, especially if a contaminant
like oil is putting wildlife in danger. And yes, they’re really cyborgs — made
of both living and artificial parts. They’re basically rotifers, but have had
specialized microbeads added to their filtering organs. The so called self-propelled biohybrid microrobots,
or “rotibots” for short, swim around and sweep contaminated water into their mouths
using their cilia. Then the microbeads neutralize the bad stuff. The researchers showed that the rotibots could
successfully clean up E. coli bacteria, a nerve agent, and heavy metals from water samples
in the lab. And they could survive in a range of environments
like pools, ponds, or lakes. That makes these rotibots a really versatile
clean-up crew, because you wouldn’t need to design a totally different bot for different
environments. You’d just have to customize the microbeads
to work on different contaminants. The authors of the paper even suggest giving
the rotibots caffeine to turbocharge their swimming and clean water up faster. Last on our list is a tiny green alga that’s
showing scientists how life on Earth evolved. Volvox is a genus of green algae that clump
together in spherical colonies made up of anywhere from five hundred to sixty thousand
individuals, depending on the species. They’re found in clean, warm, nutrient-rich
ponds all over the world, and you might be able to spot them with your own microscope
in a bit of pond water. In fact, some are big enough to see with the
naked eye. What’s amazing is that those hundreds or
thousands of individuals all coexist as a single colony unit. Most of them make up the transparent sphere
that houses the colony. These are called somatic cells. Then there are a few larger cells on the inside
that take care of reproduction. This is about the simplest possible example
of cells having specialized functions. And that makes Volvox perfect for studying
the development of multicellular life. When an organism has only one cell, that cell
has to do everything, from moving around to finding food to reproducing. But in multicellular organisms like us, those
functions are split up between different types of cells. And Volvox’s cousin Chlamydomonas makes
for a great comparison. It’s also an alga, but a unicellular one. In 2010, scientists sequenced the genomes
of both and found that, on a genetic level, the two were really similar. The number of genes, as well as the number
of different kinds of proteins those genes coded for, were almost identical between the
two. Having almost the same set of genes shows
they’re closely related. But how those genes are used accounts for
the differences in what their cells can do. In a 2017 study, scientists sequenced the
RNA of Volvox carteri somatic and reproductive cells. RNA sequencing provides information about
how genes are being expressed — how the cell is using its genome. That let them see which genes are most active
in each type of cell, that is, what jobs each kind of cell does. What they found was that more than half of
Volvox’s genes were expressed differently in somatic and reproductive cells. For example, in somatic cells, twenty-six
percent of the most active genes were linked with flagella — little whip-like structures
that help the cells eat and move. But only two percent of the most active genes
in reproductive cells were connected with flagella. And in Volvox, certain genes suppress the
ability of somatic cells to reproduce — leaving that function to the reproductive cells. In Chlamydomonas, reproduction can be switched
on and off so that cells can alternate between the two functions. This shows that incredibly slight tweaks in
how genes are expressed can make the difference between a single-celled organism and one that
looks a lot more multicellular. Light microscopes might not be the flashiest
models available. Sophisticated instruments can use electrons
or sensitive probes to visualize things practically down to the atomic scale. But don’t discount the humble compound microscope! The organisms you see through that eyepiece
have a lot to teach us — from unlocking new vaccines to illuminating the origins of life
as we know it. Ever since the development of the first microscope
hundreds of years ago, hobbyists and citizen scientists have been discovering weird, wonderful,
tiny things in drops of pond water. In fact, we love this magical little world
so much, we’d like to introduce our brand new sister channel: Journey to the Microcosmos. Every week, we’ll bring you new, up close
and personal looks at the microorganisms all around us. James Weiss creates all the incredible footage,
set to music by Andrew Huang. Oh, and it’s narrated by me. Journey to the Microcosmos is reflective,
fascinating, and incredibly relaxing. Check out the link in the description if you
want to see more! {♫Outro♫}

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100 Responses

  1. wwiinnggnnuutt says:

    Yes! More! Thanks, Scishow! Microcosmos can't wait to subscribe!

  2. Barkergirl 905 says:

    When Journey to the Micro-Cosmos bleeds into Sci Show

  3. Brianna Beecher says:

    You should do a tangent episode about the microscopic world! Also YESSSS I'm very excited about this new series.

  4. Ben Sam says:

    micro cyborgs jacked up on Mt Dew. thats AWESOME.

  5. The siting acheroraptor says:

    Where’s buff hank

  6. Corn on the jaCob says:

    Giardia "have camouflage that is also bulletproof"– so Translucent from The Boys?

  7. carlitos vodka says:

    How do we make a microscope i can use to check my blood or urine?

  8. Amit Singh says:

    Can I find a girlfriend using one?

  9. Wracky says:

    "4 Creatures you can see with your own microscope! Fun!"…."… so let me tell you about VSPs!" – Hank

  10. Celina K says:

    The majestic rotibots

  11. SirAwesomeness7 says:

    Amoeba: one of us
    My bleeding intestines (coughing up blood): one of us

  12. Qxeen of Hearts says:

    didn't know people got microscope as kids but at least now i know what to give to my younger cousins, nieces and nephews

  13. Fake Name says:

    Love your new channel. Have watched every video so far and not one has disappointed

  14. Bose-Einstein says:

    One of the first things I saw under a microscope was my own gametes. The perspective that gave me still resonates with me to this day.

  15. Dan Rowley says:

    Wonder how drunk the Sciencetest were when they came up with these names….

  16. spineyswordfish says:

    You need an award for having the most spinoff channels!

  17. Magmafrost13 says:

    Anyone else have this weird feeling that "protist" sounds like a slur?

  18. Aaron Martinez says:

    hey there footage from your other channel!!

  19. I don't want a channel I'm just commenting says:

    Needle phobes? I thought it was only politically correct to say trypanophobia?

  20. Tmpp88 says:

    Four fun things to look at with your microscope in the safety of your own home! Let's start off with a couple of parasites that have ways of subverting your immune system and causing horrific diarrhea! Have fun gathering those samples!

  21. Potiguar GFPT says:

    5 with the thumnail's girl

  22. Gierom guy_does_nothing_productive says:

    My microscope is smaller than a compound microscope…

    I cant see hair

  23. duhmez says:

    HHHA! VOLVOX! VULVA! HHA! VAJ! Lady vaj!! HAH!

  24. Levi Barnor says:

    But how will we clean up pollutant laden rotifers
    Amoeba Proteus: Hold my contractile vacoule

  25. donlars1 says:

    Interesting content, no argument there, but with that title, it would have made more sense to talk about the things you can actually see. If I were a kid who had just gotten a microscope and wanted to look at stuff, this video would have left me disapointed. Almost all the things you talk about regarding these creatures are not visible in a hobby microscope.

  26. MiND Δ says:

    So you insist on pronouncing GIF wrong, with a J sound instead of hard G, but then you even pronounce a real word like Algae with a hard G when its a J sound? Are you just trolling us now? You're trolling us. This is really not a good idea for a channel that's supposed to be educational. That's "good" with a hard G btw.

  27. Victim of Bass says:

    I checked out my own swimmers as a kid with my microscope. Blew my mind! ?

  28. rasmus7748 says:

    sooo… is the child in the tumbnail one of the creatures you can only see using a microscope?

  29. Existenceisillusion says:

    I have a 2500x microscope that I got for about $150, also got a (separate) stereo microscope

  30. PatrykSwata says:


  31. Steven White says:

    It puts the proteins in the bucket or it gets the hose.

  32. flemlion13 says:

    What a disappointment to watch. The image and title suggesting practical stuff, like a what to find where. Instead you get an overnerd episode that will scare newbies away.

  33. Amanda Adlem says:

    I saw a Swamp Thing

  34. George Helwig says:

    Wait. That's your voice in Journey to the Microcosmos? I guess I need a hearing aid in addition to bifocals now.

  35. None of your Business says:

    But,… but,… but…
    …how do you actually get these onto your own microscope? What sample do you need to take and how do you need to prepare it?? Your title really suggests that you give instructions on HOW to actually see these creatures "with your own microscope".

  36. Marco Meijer says:

    My cat. I can see my cat with my own microscope. I can also see him without.

  37. darkless60 says:

    At what magnification?

  38. kab kab says:

    Good, but I would have preferred to have a group of children investigating and reporting what they found.

  39. Alison Sanches Krinski says:

    Thumbnail is misleading! I thought I could see little girls in the microscope! >=(

  40. Alex Mercer says:

    Amoebas are scary AF!

  41. Bombay1618 says:

    8:09– 8:14 That is the definition, Hank. Thanks.

  42. SouthHillVR says:

    Had a small microscope back when I was a child, came with some slides of insect wings I think it was. It didn't work that great tho, so I never got to interested by it, however I do seem to recall looking at my spit through it and seeing something or other moving around. It's been 20 years however so the memory's not that clear.

  43. antiisocial says:


  44. Yuri Rogatschenko Siqueira says:

    I managed to catch images of a tardigrade with a 400X USB microscope…

  45. Nendra Haryo says:

    For those who still wants to see micro life on a budget, try to search "Foldscope"

  46. Philip Manavado says:

    don't buy crappy toy microscopes for your kids. Instead buy a proper one.

  47. Peter Houle says:

    where'd you get that photo of me that you used for your thumbnail?

  48. Kari Stevens says:

    Totally unrelated to this topic, but i have a suggestion for a future video. I am curious how step counters work. The new "fitbit" exercise tracker complex sort that knows when you're bouncing your knee and when you're actually walking/biking/whatever. Love the channel and all your interesting topics. keep up the awesome videos!

  49. vaccinefraud says:

    What kind of insane propaganda piece is this? A picture of a child, a click bait about microscopes and a vaccine weapons pitch. Sure oral vaccines are great as bioterror in ANYONE'S hands. What if the benevolent United States of Unamerica decides that it will vaccinate ALL FOOD without warning with their DARPA creations and it starts killing 'citizens'? (A situation allowed for in Title 50 of the US Code). I guess doctors will be given letters of National Security where they can't even tell the parents of children who have been murdered by the state, that the state murdered them. If it were to be revealed then it would be: Well, they died for the common good… Change the name of this hack channel to the SciFI show. SALT AND TANNINS can get rid of single celled parasites by DESSICATION and has been done for longer than there was the word: Science. Why isn't THAT featured in this advertisement? Oh… yeah… the other propaganda started when they released Lyme as a weapon was that Salt Is Baaaddd For You…. Everyone associated with this video is criminally insane.

  50. bigpapadrew says:


  51. Der Fred says:

    so they didnt mean the girl from the thumbnail?

  52. Blake Blackstone says:

    If you missed out on microscopes as a kid then consider yourself lucky. They suck and made me not interested. I was hoping to see cool moving things instead I was sitting there trying to align china made parts with a blurry lens and bad lighting only to see stationary generic boring and wondering if I did something wrong.

  53. diana der maro says:

    What is interesting is that microscope blood, and tissue observation is not even accepted any longer to identify many bacterial diseases of zoonotic origins (Malaria species included) that afflict million of people who keep being misdiagnosed with diseases of unknown origin or nomenclature.  Even so it is more accurate than many tests out there completely unreliable.

    Some parts of this video seem to be subliminal propaganda by Vaccine Religion…..things that make me go ……….hmmmmmmm

  54. Blueis Notgreen says:

    Ummmmmm I can see EVERYTHING with a microscope, just not well

  55. Blueis Notgreen says:

    Pond water? Try dishwasher that’s been sitting out for a day

  56. Krzysztof Czarnecki says:

    Amoeba Edgar suit

  57. Buck3n says:

    Talks about amoebas.
    Does not even mention brain eating amoebas.
    House is concerned.

  58. Justme Mine says:


  59. Gupie Dziecko says:

    where the hydra is? :((((

  60. Aidan Hauser says:

    scishow do one on orthotropics plz

  61. Aidan Hauser says:

    can you guys do a video on orthotropics

  62. jdrew500 says:

    Found a new microscope. FoldScope It's small, powerful and works with you smart phone. Things the kids might relate to. There's a YouTube channel too. Google it.

  63. NegativeInfinity says:

    I have a 2500 times magnification binocular microscope at home and only spent $200 on it. Microscopes above 1000 times magnification aren't that hard to get you just have to know what you're looking for.

  64. Beauty School Drop Owt says:

    Hank, you are absolutely captivating. Articulate and humorous, I think you could teach anyone absolutely anything.

  65. Nathaniel Knudtson says:

    My infant son gets oral vaccines, so I guess they’ve found a few that will work now!

  66. Steven Nichpor says:

    This made me miss my old microscope. I wonder if it's still around…

  67. bugs181 says:

    Checking out that channel now! Fascinating video! Huge like.

  68. King D - Mind says:

    my sexual organs

  69. Wemdiculous says:

    Ok, but I just saw them without my microscope, thanks for ruining microscopes.

  70. latinflavorxd says:

    Who knew i could see microscopic critters with a microscope

  71. noel hutchins says:

    the rotophore was strong enough to create vortecis at 7:37

  72. Jack Hughes says:

    For an organ that is supposed to be a filter for harmful or useless matter and gets exposed to them often, the liver seems to get infected quite easily…

  73. Charly Gonzalez says:

    hell yeah, I so want to see that new channel!

  74. BingBong Hafu says:

    I got a microscope ad…

  75. Thomas McGormley says:

    I remember looking at water from the dishes underneath potted plants and finding a tardigrade. It was the most amazing thing I ever saw.

  76. Mr. Hand says:

    I’m pretty sure you can see humans through a microscope 😉

  77. Ricardo Becerra says:

    I like phages 🙂 they look cooler
    Well PET and MET are great

  78. Rafe Tizer says:

    Volvox eh? Now I know where they got the name for the main villain in the SNES game E.V.O. The Search for Eden. And yeah, Bolbox as he's called in-game, is basically a blob with a handful of random "cells" floating around inside, which turn out to be copies of all the stage bosses.

  79. CintreuseGrande says:

    Anyone have any suggestions for a microscope that can also take images to a computer?

  80. Limey says:

    O_o;; I actually remember phagocytosis and pinocytosis and learning about it in school…because I was sitting in biology class when the first plane hit the World Trade Center.

  81. Matthew (Student) Agonoy says:

    O.o I have a microscope next to me

  82. Ken O says:

    When we use a filter, after it does its job, it is full of the stuff we want removed, then we remove the filter, and either clean it or dispose of it. Like a filter for an air conditioner or a tap water filter. Do we need to do the same, when using rotifers? Do they need to be collected after they become saturated with what they are filtering?

  83. Ristube says:

    Is there any linkage between chlamydia the STD and chlamydomonas? There has to be, it’s the same word with a suffix? Right?

  84. panther105 says:

    1000x…unlikely without oil/lens meniscus. First thing he says we should look at is something that can kill us… smart!!

  85. Samuel Wong says:

    Do you mean those wriggly floaty stuff in your eye?

  86. Trevor Grover says:

    It's fungi, not funji. You call it a fungus, not funjus, Hank.

  87. Daniel Martinez says:

    You forgot to mention dogs, cats, chinchillas, hamsters, elephants, bears, boars, bulls, etc.

  88. Cupcakes, Melons, and Absolute Destruction! says:

    Eating stuff and wearing their powers, reminds me of a certain pink ball shaped game hero,

  89. Captain Hindsight says:

    Joke is on you!
    I can see up to 1000x with my glasses!

  90. 4one14 says:

    Can anyone recommend a decent starter microscope (plus where to get it)? Possibly with adapter for attaching a camera?
    Much thanks folks! <3

  91. Super Loops says:

    Ive got a microscoep I used to put dropsve water from the pond and look for tiny wriggly and swimmy things

  92. Sarah Leonard says:

    While my own home microscope experience was lackluster (it didn't have its own light source, and its ability to use sunlight was disappointing), the one I bought for my niece last year was surprisingly good and the whole family had a blast looking at pond water. Yes, I and that aunt.

  93. Jorge Stolfi says:

    You got sort of carried away with the giardia…

  94. Eric Sonnen says:

    I had a microscope as a kid and loved looking at water from a nearby creek. It was so cool!

  95. DFX2KX says:

    I came across that second channel completely by accident a few days ago, didn't know it was you guys donig it. "The Giants" was a mindboggling episode. I didn't know single cells could get that big.

  96. Firstname Secondname says:

    It is not recommended to open up your intestine just to find some amoeba to look at

  97. Michael Lee says:

    As far as how the amoebas wear the outside of our cells…I think they sew a coat out of our cells skin and dance around it it. My best guess. 0.o

  98. Dinitroflurbenzol says:

    to #2

    it rubs the lotion onto its skin 😀

  99. Alex Baldwin says:

    So amoebas tear off the skin of our cells then wear their faces like a Halloween costume made of skin.


  100. Ronnie_A says:

    Giardia almost killed my dog. Always look if your anthelmintics include giardia. When the faeces of your dog start to smell worse then just bad. Go to a local vet and collect samples of poop. 3 faeces for 3 days in a row thats important! They are also difficult to diagnose. Incubation time of 14 days .

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