Tardigrades, often called water bears or moss piglets, are near-microscopic animals with long, plump bodies and scrunched-up heads. They have eight legs, and hands with four to eight claws on each. While strangely cute, these tiny animals are almost indestructible and can even survive in outer space.
Tardigrades, known colloquially as water bears or moss piglets, are a phylum of eight-legged segmented micro-animals. They were first described by the German zoologist Johann August Ephraim Goeze in 1773, who called them little water bears .
The biggest adults may reach a body length of 1.5 mm (0.059 in), the smallest below 0.1 mm. Newly hatched tardigrades may be smaller than 0.05 mm.
Tardigrades, known colloquially as water bears or moss piglets, are a phylum of eight-legged segmented micro-animals.They were first described by the German zoologist Johann August Ephraim Goeze in 1773, who called them little water bears. In 1777, the Italian biologist Lazzaro Spallanzani named them Tardigrada/, which means “slow steppers”
They have been found everywhere in Earth’s biosphere, from mountaintops to the deep sea and mud volcanoes,and from tropical rainforests to the Antarctic.Tardigrades are among the most resilient animals known,with individual species able to survive extreme conditions—such as exposure to extreme temperatures, extreme pressures (both high and low), air deprivation, radiation, dehydration, and starvation—that would quickly kill most other known forms of life. Tardigrades have survived exposure to outer space.[ There are about 1,300 known species in the phylum Tardigrada, a part of the superphylum Ecdysozoa consisting of animals that grow by ecdysis such as arthropods and nematodes. The earliest known true members of the group are known from Cretaceous amber in North America, but are essentially modern forms, and therefore likely have a significantly earlier origin, as they diverged from their closest relatives in the Cambrian, over 500 million years ago.
Tardigrades are usually about 0.5 mm (0.02 in) long when fully grown.They are short and plump, with four pairs of legs, each ending in claws (usually four to eight) or suction 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 low-power microscope, making them accessible to students and amateur scientists.
Johann August Ephraim Goeze originally named the tardigrade kleiner Wasserbär, meaning “little water-bear” in German (today, they are often referred to in German as Bärtierchen or “little bear-animal”). The name “water-bear” comes from the way they walk, reminiscent of a bear‘s gait. The name Tardigradum means “slow walker” and was given by Lazzaro Spallanzani in 1777.