Tardigrade

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Tardigrades (Goldstein Lab, UNC Chapel Hill)

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tardigrade : any of a phylum (Tardigrada) of microscopic invertebrates with four pairs of stout legs that live usually in water or damp moss — called also water bearWebster

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Tardigrade Tardigrades, also known colloquially as water bears, or moss piglets), are water-dwelling, eight-legged, segmented micro-animals. They were first discovered by the German zoologist Johann August Ephraim Goeze in 1773. The name Tardigrada (meaning “slow stepper”) was given three years later by the Italian biologist Lazzaro Spallanzani. They have been found everywhere: from mountain tops to the deep sea and mud volcanoes; from tropical rain forests to the Antarctic.

Tardigrades are one of the most resilient known animals, with individual species able to survive extreme conditions that would be rapidly fatal to nearly all other known life forms, such as exposure to extreme temperatures, extreme pressures (both high and low), air deprivation, radiation, dehydration, and starvation. About 1,150 known species form the phylum Tardigrada, a part of the superphylum Ecdysozoa. The group includes fossils dating from 530 million years ago, in the Cambrian period.

Usually, tardigrades are about 0.5 mm (0.02 in) long when they are fully grown. They are short and plump, with four pairs of legs, each with four to eight claws also known as “disks”. Tardigrades are prevalent in mosses and lichens and feed on plant cells, algae, and small invertebrates. When collected, they may be viewed under a very low-power microscope, making them accessible to students and amateur scientists. — Wikipedia

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  • The physics behind a water bear's lumbering gait
    on August 27, 2021 at 4:09 pm

    Plump and ponderous, tardigrades earned the nickname "water bears" when scientists first observed the 0.02-inch-long animals' distinctive lumbering gaits in the 18th century. Their dumpy plod, however, raises the question of why tardigrades evolved to walk at all.

  • NASA launches baby squid and water bears to the...
    on June 11, 2021 at 1:07 pm

    From worms to quail, the ISS has housed all kinds of creatures great and small over the years. Animal research in space is about to welcome some new members to the club.

  • SpaceX launches tiny critters, solar panels to...
    on June 3, 2021 at 6:21 pm

    SpaceX launched thousands of tiny sea creatures to the International Space Station on Thursday, along with a plaque-fighting toothpaste experiment and powerful solar panels.

  • Small packages with big benefits aboard SpX-22
    on June 3, 2021 at 12:21 pm

    When the Falcon 9 rocket launches on June 3, it will be carrying thousands of pounds of cargo to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX's 22nd commercial resupply services mission. Yet the last five items to be loaded will weigh less than an ounce. These include two plant and two animal species along with a microbial study. Scientists will examine these to better understand how to prepare future astronauts for the rigors of long-distance space travel, as well as unlock a few secrets that […]

  • SpaceX CRS-22 mission to space station launches...
    on May 28, 2021 at 8:53 pm

    The 22nd SpaceX cargo resupply mission carrying scientific research and technology demonstrations launches to the International Space Station from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida no earlier than June 3. Experiments aboard include studying how water bears tolerate space, whether microgravity affects symbiotic relationships, analyzing the formation of kidney stones, and more.