the weird and wonderful water bear

I have never seen a tardigrade, aka water bear, but I have been following them on the internet and find them endlessly fascinating. What follows is not sci fi, although I could be describing an alien creature from another planet.

A light micrograph of a tardigrade. Credit: Sinclair Stammers

Tardigrades, or water bears, are 1mm-long creatures that live in damp places like lichen and mosses, or in tiny ponds on glaciers. They are considered the toughest animals on earth. 

They have spent ten days in space, and survived freezing temperatures and radiation levels 1000 times greater than we humans could tolerate. 

They can also survive boiling temperatures, and recent research has shown that if the pool of water they live in dries out, they roll into a little ball and years, even decades later, can be rehydrated and carry on eating, swimming and reproducing, doing all the things a normal busy little water bear does.

Quite a lot has been learned by scientists about these animals, but there are more than a thousand species, and no one has gotten around to charting all the differences between them. If there is reincarnation, I think next life I'd like to be a scientist researching tardigrades.

Koalas are cute, flamingos are funny and pandas are popular, but my favourite animal is without doubt the tardigrade. What's yours?

Tardigrade. Credit: Alamy

Comments

  1. How remarkable! I'd never heard of these very resilient creatures so thanks for sharing what you've learned about them. It brings to mind Dr. Seuss's Horton and his Whos.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Fascinating! There are so many creatures and life forms that are still mysteries to science. So much to learn, and the learning continues forever! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Makes me think how awful it is when creatures become extinct even before they've been identified and studied.

      Delete
  3. These are very cute. I wonder if they live in the moss in my garden?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. they might - exciting thought. How would we find out?

      Delete
  4. This tiny, wonderful creature deserves a great name like water bear or tardigrade. It is completely new to me and I am rally glad to meet this one. If there is something like reincarnation I know now what I want to be. Humour aside very, very interesting little creature, thank you for posting about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so pleased to spread the news. One day when we humans are extinct there will still probably be cockroaches and tardigrades.

      Delete
  5. What interesting and cute little creatures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. the variety of life on this planet is amazing

      Delete
  6. Well, this is a first. Never heard of them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought people may not have heard about them. I hesitated to write this post because it's a long way from gardening, but now I'm pleased I've done it.

      Delete
  7. How absolutely fascinating. I knew nothing about them, but am a huge admirer of resilience.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular Posts