Have you heard of a herd of moving moss balls?

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/say-hello-to-glacier-mice-a-herd-of-mysterious-moving-moss-balls/ar-BB14xEYk?ocid=spartanntp

They grow on glaciers. They are soft squishy balls of moss. They move in the same direction like a herd does. Researchers have not been able to discover how they move. Researchers have ruled out prevailing winds. These so-called “glacier mice” do not move by protecting frozen ice beneath them from melting and then falling off when that protected pedestal of ice, because that should not result in them all falling off in the same direction. Researchers determined that it is also not the sun melting the ice in a certain direction.

The moss balls MUST move in order to survive, by exposing all of their surface to sunlight.

So how are they moving? @ Write4U? Any ideas?

Haven’t you heard, turns out they’re actually Tribbles.

They certainly look like tribbles, but they are not multiplying at a rate one would expect from tribbles.

 

I recall some rocks in a desert somewhere that moved in one direction and even showed the trail of their movement over time. I can’t recall the explanation that was determined as to how that was happening.

Hey. I just got an idea. What if they have some sort of magnetic alignment factor in their physiology? The researchers should just check this hypothesis by simply checking to see if the direction the moss creatures are moving is toward the North Magnetic Pole.

Then I had another idea about what if those things really are tribbles? But that idea is more fantastic than you would be interested in knowing.

Here are examples of the rocks I mentioned. (See Sailing Rocks, Wikipedia)

So Wikipedia says that at night there is a thin veneer of ice that forms, then wind propels the rocks to move. However, you see the rocks apparently change direction when the wind changes direction. The herds of moss balls are said to move in one direction only, and not in accordance with wind directions.

Glacier mice in Breiðamerkurjökull, an outlet glacier in Iceland, in 2005.Ruth Mottram Balls of moss move like a flock Squishy pillows of moss appear to slowly move across glaciers in a coordinated fashion, researchers have found. In a long-term study in Alaska, researchers tagged the rolling ‘glacier mice’ to monitor their motion. The herd seems to move in unison, at a speed of about 2.5 centimetres per day. Their motion didn’t align with the prevailing winds, and they weren’t rolling down a slope — so what propels them is still a mystery. “It's very hard not to think of tribbles from Star Trek,” says climate scientist Ruth Mottram. The team hopes to track glacier mice that were tagged a decade ago to see how they have moved over a longer period.
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-01580-6

 

If I may hazard a guess, the “fuzz” of glacier mice are evolved “cilia”.

Cilia,

What is the function of the cilia? 'Motile' (or moving) cilia are found in the lungs, respiratory tract and middle ear. These cilia have a rhythmic waving or beating motion. They work, for instance, to keep the airways clear of mucus and dirt, allowing us to breathe easily and without irritation. They also help propel sperm.
Cilia - the Ciliopathy Alliance!

But cilia also propel single cell Paramecium and many other single celled bacteria The motors that drive cilia are microtubules, a self-assembling dynamic biological motor.

Because microtubules are computers which function identically for a large variety of MT functions, there quorum function is very predictable, not just for one individual, but for all the individuals contained in the hive structure.

Another MT function is “pseudopodia”, where sets of microtubules generate a sliding effect in a very coordinated manner, which allows the organism to slide its way forward and backward at will.

Beautiful examples can be found in the pseudopod “slime mold”, a single multi nuclei hive organism.

https://cdn.britannica.com/s:1500x700,q:85/75/5575-004-1E017CB7/locomotion.jpg

https://www.britannica.com/science/pseudopodial-locomotion

and caterpillars and snakes, which have a highly evolved a special modes of pseudopodia.

In pedal locomotion, which is a slow, continuous gliding that is superficially indistinguishable from ciliary locomotion, propulsion along the bottom is generated by the passage of contraction waves through the ventral musculature, which is in contact with the bottom surface. The pedal contraction waves are either direct (in the same direction as the movement) or retrograde (in the direction opposite to the movement). The direct waves produce locomotion in a manner analogous to that in which a caterpillar walks. When a direct wave reaches a muscle, the muscle contracts and lifts a small part of the body; the body is carried forward and set down anterior to its original position as the wave passes. With direct waves, the surfaces of the body touching the bottom surface are not the ones that contract; with retrograde waves, however, these are the surfaces that do contract. As the retrograde wave approaches, the body area immediately adjacent to it is extended upward. The body surface within the contraction area then anchors itself to the bottom surface, after which the body is pulled forward.
https://www.britannica.com/topic/locomotion/Bottom-locomotion

The interesting part is that all these modes of movement are driven by MT motor functions.

I think a strong case can be made that MT are the propulsion motor of glacier mice (moss balls) in a quorum coordinated movement, without the need for conscious motor skills. All the moss balls in the herd react the same way to shared causal information much as hive insects behave via “quorum sensing”

I asked in the opening post: “So how are they moving? @ Write4U? Any ideas?”

And darned if he didn’t come up with an answer!

Next question:

“Where are they going?” or alternatively, “How is it important to (or functional for) them to move together as a flock?”

Lets see if we can get this one up again.

Well Write4U that’s an interesting idea and it spurred me on to do a little more digging and I found a good read in the New York Times from eight years ago, that adds a dimension I haven’t read about in the recent flurry of headlines.

 

On Glaciers, Balls of Dust and Moss Make a Cozy Home

By Matt Kaplan, August 27, 2012, New York Times

Scientists have found micro-organisms sheltering inside glacier mice — clumps of debris, akin to dust bunnies, that develop a protective layer of moss over time.

 

Life has a habit of turning up in the most unlikely of places. Geysers, desert cliffs, even heaps of dung are environments that at least a few creatures call home.

Now balls of moss on glaciers are joining this strange list. The clumps, known as glacier mice, have been found to contain miniature ecosystems. And even in freezing temperatures, scientists found, the inhabitants manage to thrive.

In high winds glacier mice, which form when clumps of dust and organic debris develop a layer of moss over time, hop across vast sheets of ice. Because glaciers are in constant, if slow, motion and are frequently blasted by strong winds, these clumps roll around a bit like tumbleweed, or dust bunnies, and the moss ends up growing on all sides. …

…, Steve Coulson, an arctic biologist at the University Center in Svalbard, Norway, decided to turn his attention toward the guts of the bizarre formations. He and a colleague, Nicholas Midgley, at Nottingham Trent University in England, …

… And contrary to what the team expected, these animals were not just getting by inside the glacier mice; with up to 73 springtails, 200 tardigrades and 1,000 nematodes being found in just a single mouse, they were thriving. …

nytimes -com/2012/08/28/science/earth/glacier-mice-offer-a-micro-habitat -html


MT seems great for tiny stuff, but these are relatively big and they live in a very windy climate, on icy surfaces, so my gut says it’ll turn out to be more mundane an explanation. Just like with those Death Valley gliders, right amount of moisture and temp, to get the right amount of slickness, right amount of wind, slight gradients, and off they go.

But I bet if MT is involved in some way, there’s some smart scientists out their collecting their evidence and dreaming of the day they shock the world with their new revelation – it what makes science so much fun.

CCv3 said; But I bet if MT is involved in some way, there’s some smart scientists out their collecting their evidence and dreaming of the day they shock the world with their new revelation – it what makes science so much fun.
There is no doubt that glacier mice have microtubules. All Eukaryotic organisms have a common denominator: MT !

I visualized Moss balls as being evolved independent macrobiomes, the only plant biome which “learned to walk” via evolved MT leaf growth patterns, just as humans are able to walk due to MT neural functions. This is not so speculative as it may seem. A “walking plant”!? Well, we also have a “walking slime mold”. That type of motility is called Pseudopodia.

Kinesins Are Indispensable for Interdigitation of Phragmoplast Microtubules in the Moss Physcomitrella patens[W]
Yuji Hiwatashi,a,b Mari Obara,a,1 Yoshikatsu Sato,a,2 Tomomichi Fujita,a,b,3 Takashi Murata,a,b and Mitsuyasu Hasebea,b,c,4

ABSTRACT

Microtubules form arrays with parallel and antiparallel bundles and function in various cellular processes, including subcellular transport and cell division. The antiparallel bundles in phragmoplasts, plant-unique microtubule arrays, are mostly unexplored and potentially offer new cellular insights. Here, we report that the Physcomitrella patens kinesins KINID1a and KINID1b (for kinesin for interdigitated microtubules 1a and 1b), which are specific to land plants and orthologous to Arabidopsis thaliana PAKRP2, are novel factors indispensable for the generation of interdigitated antiparallel microtubules in the phragmoplasts of the moss P. patens.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2613662/#:~:text=Moss

Astral microtubules

Astral microtubules are a subpopulation of microtubules, which only exist during and immediately before mitosis. They are defined as any microtubule originating from the centrosome which does not connect to a kinetochore.[1] Astral microtubules develop in the actin skeleton and interact with the cell cortex to aid in spindle orientation. They are organized into radial arrays around the centrosomes. The turn-over rate of this population of microtubules is higher than any other population.

 

This diagram depicts the organization of a typical mitotic spindle found in animal cells. Chromosomes are attached to kinetochore microtubules via a multiprotein complex called the kinetochore. Polar microtubules interdigitate at the spindle midzone and push the spindle poles apart via motor proteins. Astral microtubules anchor the spindle poles to the cell membrane. Microtubule polymerization is nucleated at the microtubule organizing center.

Astral microtubules are not required for the progression of mitosis, but they are required to ensure the fidelity of the process. The function of astral microtubules can be generally considered as determination of cell geometry. They are absolutely required for correct positioning and orientation of the mitotic spindle apparatus, and are thus involved in determining the cell division site based on the geometry and polarity of the cells.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astral_microtubules

 

@write4u: This is not so speculative as it may seem. A “walking plant”!?
https://www.sciencealert.com/can-these-trees-in-ecuador-walk-up-to-20-meters-per-year

:wink:


I don’t dispute anything you’ve shared, but I think ‘micro’ is the bug in ointment here. This stuff is going on at cellular levels, how that could exert enough coordinated energy to move the moss balls, is where I get lost.

I would think with the right cameras, and proper observations, and someone smart enough to ask the right questions, and do due diligence, we will find the evidence to support your conjecture, or not.

Stay tuned :wink:

 

Oh, about that walking tree,

There is one unique exception, some say: the so-called walking palm tree(Socratea exorrhiza) found in Latin America. Many people believe it can literally walk around (more or less). This is because of its unusual root system; while most trees have one trunk, the palm splits into many smaller roots a few feet off the ground, giving it the appearance of many little legs.

Sorry, the devil made me do it.

The amazing ambulatory ability of the walking tree has been told by rainforest guides to tourists for years, and appears in many sources as an amazing plant adaptation. As journalist Sherry Seethaler writes in her book "Curious Folks Ask 2" (2011, FT Press): "Screenwriters searching for the perfect B-movie plant protagonist could take inspiration from the walking palm, found in the rainforests of Central and South America. The tree slowly 'walks' from shade to sunlight by growing new roots toward the light and allowing the old roots interfering with its wanderlust to die."

A tree that walks in search of the sun is a fascinating, bizarre story. Alas, it’s also not true; the tree is real enough, but it doesn’t walk — or even stumble. It sits where it sprouted, not moving except under the force of wind (or an axe).

CCv3 said; I don’t dispute anything you’ve shared, but I think ‘micro’ is the bug in ointment here. This stuff is going on at cellular levels, how that could exert enough coordinated energy to move the moss balls, is where I get lost.
It's true, MT are nano-scale organelles but they make up the cytoskeleton of Eukaryotic organisms and actually provide the structural rigidity that keeps us upright and prevents our body from collapsing into a blob of jelly.
"In most plant cells, cellulose is laid down, not randomly, but in a very organized way," Ehrhardt said. "It's thought that microtubules control and guide the machinery that builds the cell wall. Being able to engineer how cellulose is laid down could provide bioengineering opportunities for generating cell walls with different properties for a variety of biomaterials."

“With treadmilling, the microtubule looks like it’s moving in one direction, but in reality, one end is growing while the other is shortening,” Ehrhardt noted.


That is the mechanics of pseudopodia.

"Treadmilling has only been rarely seen in some animal cells," Shaw added. "What's remarkable about the plant system is that almost all the microtubules we can see are undergoing a treadmilling motility."
https://news.stanford.edu/news/2003/april30/microtubule-430.html

This is not about walking, but does show microtubular response to phototropism (heliotropism) in say, sunflowers.

Role of the microtubular cytoskeleton in coleoptile phototropism

This chapter discusses the role of the microtubular cytoskeleton in coleoptile phototropism. Phototropic stimulation of intact coleoptiles causes a reorientation of cortical microtubules in the lighted, auxin-depleted flank, whereas the microtubules in the shaded, auxin-enriched flank reinforce their transverse orientation.

This gradient of microtubule orientation is correlated with a gradient of growth resulting in tropistic bending. Microtubule reorientation becomes detectable within 10 minutes after stimulation and is complete within 1 hour. Phototropic curvature, in contrast, becomes detectable within 20 to 30 minutes after stimulation and reaches a maximum at 2 hours after stimulation. Thus, for phototropic stimulation, the microtubular response clearly precedes the growth response.


https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1568461X01800284

@write4u, fun stuff, thanks for the links.

Stanford Report, April 30, 2003, BY MARK SHWARTZ

Scientists observe nanosize microtubules ‘treadmilling’ across plant cells

Using time-lapse imagery, the scientists discovered that new microtubules emerged near the outer wall of the plant cell – not in the cell interior where animal microtubules originate. Time-lapse imaging also revealed that plant microtubules appear to move in the cell by a process known as “treadmilling,” which occurs when bits of protein (known as “subunits”) are added to the leading end of the microtubule and simultaneously removed from the trailing end.

“With treadmilling, the microtubule looks like it’s moving in one direction, but in reality, one end is growing while the other is shortening,” Ehrhardt noted.

“Treadmilling has only been rarely seen in some animal cells,” Shaw added. “What’s remarkable about the plant system is that almost all the microtubules we can see are undergoing a treadmilling motility.”

The way protein subunits are added and removed from a microtubule also proved interesting, …


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLm0Ojngjc4

 

Amazing stuff,

Dynamic instability of microtubule

Aug 27, 2019 - Animated biology With arpan

https: //www - youtube - com/watch?v=wkBGPGD4yaY

This video describes the importance of dynamic instability of microtubule


 

 

You guys are rather amazing. I am beginning to think you may be on to something. I, unfortunately, am more adept at asking the questions rather than at providing highly intricate biological answers.

timb said; You guys are rather amazing. I am beginning to think you may be on to something. I, unfortunately, am more adept at asking the questions rather than at providing highly intricate biological answers.
Just search for "microtubules" and a whole world of new science will open up. This is mostly in reference to the role microtubules play in the phenomenon of "consciousness".

I saw the term and then stumbled on a Youtube by Stuart Hameroff. I have posted it before but, it is probably the most condensed introduction to the properties and functions of this most amazing nano-scale motor/processor which is at the heart of our sensory neural network as well as physical shape and properties… MT (microtubules) control cell division (mitosis) of every cell in our body .

It is estimated that there are some 85 billion neurons containing some 2 trillion microtubules.

Microtubules allow bacteria to swim, slime mold, and trees (and moss?) to walk as a pseudopods, control the exact copying of chromosomes during cell- division (mitosis), transport all sensory data from the sensory organs to the brain, where microtubule pyramids are used as Memory storage systems.

Just looking at the mathematical bipolar coiled pattern of the microtubule, begs the question of what these little processors can actually process? This is at the level of asking “what is Life”, and how did it emerge. This asks “what is Consciousness” and how did it emerge?

IMHO, when discussiong the hard problem of “consciousness”, just as we used to discuss the hard problem of abiogenesis, we must consider microtubules as being fundamentally involved in the transport of electro-chemical information which allow for the emergence of consciousness as an evolved refinement of sensory processes and develop experiential self-awareness of the process.

This is attaining universal Knowledge, with a capital K!!

In case other readers may have missed it. Here is the Initial Video by Start Hameroff, which got me hooked.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXFFbxoHp3s

 

IMHO, when discussiong the hard problem of “consciousness”, just as we used to discuss the hard problem of abiogenesis, we must consider microtubules as being fundamentally involved in the transport of electro-chemical information which allow for the emergence of consciousness as an evolved refinement of sensory processes and develop experiential self-awareness of the process.
In my less humble opinion, I don't at all understand how the micro neurological electrochemical stuff, that happens, results in our being aware, or of being conscious, just as I don't understand all of the micro neurological electrochemical stuff that happens that results in our moving a part of our body.

Granted there is some micro level happenings that are involved in all of our behaviors. I just don’t believe that we need to know every minute microscopic factor that is going on, to explain the so-called “hard problem of consciousness”. Sure, that stuff would be good to know, but just the idea of the so called “hard problem of consciousness” is bogus, IMO, in that behaviors of consciousness clearly exist. And they also clearly are manifested in neurological correlates. So, really, what is so “hard” about us being aware of the color red? Whatever is going on at the micro level, it is still behavior. A special kind of behavior that occurs only inside our skin, but nevertheless, behavior. We all do behaviors. We all walk, sneeze, fart, dance, think, remember things, visualize things, see colors, perceive ourselves and our actions, and a virtual myriad of other behaviors. One behavior of which is to recognize the color red (unless you are color blind). No Hard problem of consciousness.

Now I welcome the questions of “What is consciousness?” It is the totality of all of our awareness behaviors. It involves our perceptive abilities and our processing the resulting information. “How did it emerge?” It emerged most notably, I believe, along with our development of complex verbal behavior. Without the complex verbal behaviors, I think, that our awareness behaviors would be more limited as is the case, probably, with most animals that do no have our level of complex verbal behavior.

Granted I am explaining from a macro level, and I do appreciate that there are those who can explain things from the micro level. And I recognize that explaining on a micro level is difficult (some might say “hard”). But I suggest that what may be confirmed will not ultimately show that our consciousness behaviors are particularly different from our other behaviors other than that they can only be detected, physically, by their neurological correlates. (Whereas other behaviors can be more easily observed because they involve movements of the body.)