Like many people, I am fascinated by tardigrades, small invertebrates with 8 legs, segmented bodies, and mouth parts that make them look like nothing else in nature. Also known as water bears or moss piglets, they always capture my attention because they are certainly extraordinary looking. One might say that they are 50 parts grotesque and 50 parts adorable.
While it's true that I always stop and stare at photos or videos of tardigrades, I actually know very little about them. This morning, a friend shared a link to a story about 3D-printed tardigrades. This inspired me to go on a quest for more information about the real thing, and here are some interesting facts I discovered:
- Tardigrades can survive in space! Thanks to an experiment conducted by the European Space Agency, we know that tardigrades are the first animals known to be able to survive the harsh combination of low pressure and intense radiation found in space.
- Tardigrades can go without food or water for more than 10 years. They can dry out to the point where they are 3% or less water, but are able to rehydrate, forage, and reproduce when conditions become more favorable.
- Tardigrades are eutelic, meaning all adult tardigrades of the same species have the same number of cells. Some species have as many as 40,000 cells in each adult, while others have far fewer. Over 1,150 tardigrade species have been identified.
To find out more about these amazing critters, you can peruse the resources listed below. Many contain stunning and eye-popping photos and/or videos of tardigrades.
Behold The Mighty, Microscopic Water Bear
Five Reasons Why the Tardigrade is Nature's Toughest Animal
Tardigrades: (Water Bears)
The Secrets of the Water Bear
Tardigrades: Water Bears in Space
And if that's not enough for you, check out this delightful and informative video:
23 Mar 2015 11:48 AM