One of the knottiest problems in zoology is the specific identification of naked, free-living amoebas of the order Amoebida. Usual methods of taxonomic identification, i.e. easily distinguishable morphological contours of sufficient permancy seem to be lacking in them. Schaeffer (1926), amongst others, points out that such a creature as "the amoeba," does not exist. He speculates, perhaps rightly, that the naked, free-living amoebas are of polyphyletic origin, and that to attempt to classify them phylogentically is virtually impossible. The supposed "simplicity" of amoebas, because of their resemblance to the "basic cell," has given credence to the belief that there is little morphological diversity amongst them. Some have therefore concluded that naught but the nucleus is of taxonomic value (Hartman and Naegler 1908; Calkins 1919; Doflein 1928). If "the amoeba" is so phylogentically ancient as is supposed, its opportunities for mutative variance are certainly at least as great as those of annelids, molluscs, arthropods, or vertebrates, even if the genetic vagaries due to sexual reproduction (not definitely shown for amoebas) be admitted. Hence, citing Schaeffer (1926) once more, research done on, or reference to "the amoeba" or "an amoeba" is of no more scientific worth than labors practiced upon "an insect'', or "a vertebrate".
Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science
©1953 Iowa Academy of Science, Inc.
Bovee, Eugene Cleveland
"Morphological Identification of Free-Living Amoebida,"
Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science, 60(1), 599-615.
Available at: https://scholarworks.uni.edu/pias/vol60/iss1/83