Tardigrades, otherwise known as Water Bears or Moss Piglets are 8 legged micro animals that grow from between 0.05mm to 1.2mm. They live from about 3-4 months up to 2 years and were discovered by scientists in 1773.
They are extremely hardy creatures that can be found all over the world from deep oceans, rainforests and in freezing snow covered climates.
Not only are they able to withstand such diverse climatic conditions they are also able to withstand high and low pressures, radiation and dehydration and starvation that would kill other life. Tardigrades have survived all 5 mass extinction events due to their extreme survival abilities.
There are approximately 1300 species of Tardigrade with the modern ones going back to around 90 million years ago.
They eat a variety of foods including algae, fungi, plant cells and small invertebrates.
They can be seen with a microscope and can be easily found in moss and lichens so perhaps you'd like to plan a field trip to see them always remembering to leave them where they are when you have finished observing them.
They are very fascinating little creatures and if you would like to learn more please click on the links below.
By Brendon Crook