Winning first place in Nikon’s 2015 Small Worlds in Motion competition, this is a Trachelius ciliate feeding on a Campanella ciliate — “a classic life and death struggle played out in miniature” — captured by Wim van Egmond, who has previously filmed a variety of micro-films, including this 2012 rotifer in the archives, plus 2015 honorable mentions for this water flea (Ilyocryptus):

…and this Penicillium fungi growth (10x):

…as well as this 2013 honorable mention for Ophryoglena atra (ciliates) feasting on a copepod larva (160x):

This video plays out more like a microscopic thriller, with two ciliates scavenging inside the body of a dead organism. Like vultures, ciliates detect dying animals on which to feed. In this case the “victim” is the larvae of a codopod – although how they entered the body is a mystery to van Egmond, who was surprised to capture the pair on their “great escape” once they finished feeding.

Capturing such a scene took a combination of patience and luck, as van Egmond carefully laid out his slides, examining them every so often. He first took shots focusing on the ciliates feeding on the organic material. Thirty minutes passed before he returned to examine the slides, and just managed to catch them fleeing the scene. “It’s strange and beautiful, these simple organisms have no eyes, no ears, no organs,” says van Egmond. “But still, they sense one another. One escapes, and the other follows in an instant. It’s fascinating.”

Watch these next: A cell caught in the vortex created by a feeding rotifer, You Have Mites Living On Your Face, The Plankton Chronicles, and how to find water bears (tardigrades) in the wild.

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