My first tardigrade – and a surprise at that. I looked into my Foldscope, and, without panning or focusing, the first thing that I saw was a slightly blurred, but recognisable little creature!
Yesterday I scraped off some lichens from two trees on my street. I think they were the same kind of lichens; they looked pretty similar. I put the lichens in some home-distilled water and left it overnight.
Except for two or three ciliates, a tardigrade seemed to be the only (motile) life form in that sample!
I’m giving this tardigrade a name, and also (unfoundedly) assuming that it’s a ‘he’. So let’s call him Mr Cycle; because, well, each of his eight little legs seemed to be incessantly pedalling a bicycle. I could see him quite clearly by looking directly into my Foldscope; however, whenever I tried to take photos and videos, Mr Cycle seemed to be trying his best to go out of focus!
Mr Cycle has a green “tube” inside him, which looks like his alimentary canal. It’s probably green because of all the bits of lichen he just kept on eating! His claws are distinctly visible in one of the videos – just for a second though. He even retracts and draws out his nose-like structure – called buccopharyngeal apparatus – for a moment.
This tardigrade popped up totally unanticipated – the only time he proved to be as elusive as the rest of his phylum was when I tried to transfer him to another slide.
I was surprised by how transparent Mr Cycle was. Most of the pictures of tardigrades I’ve seen are very different! I wonder what’s actually inside the green “tube”, and which all organs these little critters have. I’m trying to figure out a way to increase the magnification with the spare lens or a handheld magnifying glass, but with no success yet.
Here’s some more information – which later rubbished my fears of squishing Mr Cycle.