Mosses or a world of wonders

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              It is autumn and although not very rainy in the Canary Islands, we have been granted some rain these days. Mosses have awoken from a silent sleep. After exhibiting a brownish and dried complexion for months, they have switched into bright green patches glistening beautifully in the dull pavements of my neighbourhood.

            Bryophytes did it. They  left acuatic environments behind and headed to terrestrial habitats. I ignore how long it took but evolution takes it time. Our very first living creatures considered as plants, therefore, lack true tissues and consequently need moisture in order not to dissecate, to absorb water throughout the general surface, to fertilize gametes, to open sporangia end expell spora, ….  When severe conditions outcome, they simply end a biological cycle or stay dormant, which is where my post started. Well then, the thing is that living as fauna associated to mosses must be really tough too. This toughness, anyway, definitely has led to incredible creatures such as tardigrades or water bears. Their capability to endure adverse conditions make them fascinating, not only for the fact of living for so long and surviving extreme conditions, but for the ability to incorporate genes from other living things! Wow! I believe Genetic knowledge will change quite a bit in the near future.

          Last week I could not avoid picking up a sample of mosses and watch through my foldscope. The fresh and velvety green was so appealing! To my amazement, as if shooting stars, I stumbled across a tardigrade. I suppose it went into hiding due to the intense light, but it hid among the leaves, not real ones although. So each time I see images as the one that follows, I think they have revealed a little secret which I want to share with you: it can be one of them.

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The video (sorry, the quality is not the best, I was so excited!).

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   Sunny weather is back again. They probably must be making their tons as are uncapable to breathe without water. I feel so lucky for having been able to see them! Nevertheless, looking forward to watch them better, I have implemented my own procedure.

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                               Cristina Bosch

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Kate Honan says:

    This is so fantastic! Wow!!! These pictures are so beautiful! Were you using 140X? LED or natural light? I’m curious what your specimen setup in the jar is…a little moss garden held under or over the water?

  2. Manu Prakash says:

    Love the video – it’s as if it’s trying to run away and walking on a treadmill. I had never seen them make so much effort before – wonderful find 🙂

    I wonder if anyone has analyzed the walking for tardigrades. Just like a horse has many gaits – and it can switch dynamically; would a tardigrade trot and whatever else a horse does.. Just a thought? It’s interesting because such a simple way could allow you to think about how many central pattern generators does it have – if at all..

    Cheers
    Manu

  3. IntelliNinja says:

    That is so cool! I’m curious how you got to look at them suspending in water with the Foldscope… So neat seeing it crawl up and over…

    Chris

  4. Cristina Bosch says:

    Thank you!
    Kate, I was. I have no magnification lens neither led light (wishing to have both), so I help myself using natural light. I tried to make my own led light in the begining but aligning it with the foldscope was pretty difficult and sometimes it resulted in a strange image, I mean, not very real. Natural light, on the contrary, with the right intensity, gives you so neat images! My specimen is a moss held under the water to see if a dormant tardigrade, if any, can reactivate. Until now, no success with them but not with rotifera, invertebrates whose behaviour is amazing too!
    Chris, as I use natural light, my foldscope-slides must be held in upright position. Hope I answered your question.

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