Paramecium bursaria Inquiry

This paramecium was found in Loughborough Lake, north of Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

This specimen is probably a Paramecium in the bursaria group.


  • How does this single-celled paramecium move?
  • Can you think of other types of movement that are similar to the one you see here?
  • How does this paramecium compare to the other one (Paramecium caudatum)?
  • How does the paramecium's movement compare to other single-celled organisms?
  • How are the cilia (the tiny hair-like fibers) arranged on the paramecium? Do the cilia in different locations have different functions?
  • Each cilia is tubular in shape. Can you think of any other tubular shapes that function in similar ways?
  • What other shapes (metapattern) do groups of these cilia form? How do this new new shape function?
  • Can you find any cycles in the video? How do these cycles compare to other cycles you know about?
  • What is the advantage to the paramecium for having a flatten spherical shape? How does this critter use its shape?
  • What else can you find out about this critter?



Para- means beside or near

Mec comes from the Greek word mekos, which means length

Paramekes in Greek means oval, which is a sense of longer than its width

-um is a neuter (not masculine or feminine) noun ending

So, paramecium means an oval shaped critter.


bursa comes from the Greek meaning sac-like

More Information:

Go to the ciliates page for more information on these organisms.


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