tardigrade appreciation headquarters
image courtesy of Willow Gabriel and Bob Goldstein
webwanderers, and curiousity seekers --
welcome to the international headquarters of the tardigrade appreciation
club. perhaps you, like me, have admired these little critters since
first exposure to them in high school biology class. perhaps you weren't
paying attention in class and only learned of them later in life, over
coffee with entomologists. perhaps this is first time you've ever heard
of such creatures and you're right now wondering what all the fuss is
about. while you should be fairly warned that i am far from being an
expert (an armchair enthusiast, let's say) i have gathered a few documents
that may illuminate things for you, my friend.
the tardigarde [sometimes called
water bears or, to my unending
delight, moss piglets] is a microscopic organism, of
arthropode-like appearance, but so physiologically unusual it has a phylum
all its own (tardigarda). lolling about in its warm, mushy home,
the tadigrade is kind of the microbiological equivalent to a damp couch
potato slacker. invisible to the naked eye and measuring a scant couple
hundred microns across, our little friend still packs a wollop when
needed. with an impenetrable exoskeleton and powerklaws of
doom,this tiny fella is not to be messed with.
but wait! there's more! i have
yet to reveal the wee critter's unique
secret. you see, when the going gets tough, the tardigrade simply
takes a nap until times are better. so whether its troubles be
nuclear fallout, overdue library books or prolonged exposure to michael
bolton, the tardigrade can handle it. through the magic of
cryptoprotectants, the tardigrade can remain in a
state of hibernation indefinitely with no tissue damage whatsoever. once
the hostile foe or unpleasant environment has passed, the tardigrade
awakes as if from a pleasant dream ready again to face the challenges of a
since this page arrived on the web way back in 1994, i have discovered
that i am not alone in my admiration of this hearty, wily beast. there
are few places in the world where tardigrades are unfamiliar, and wherever
they are, enthusiasts follow. they even have a significant presence on
the world wide web. here's what i've found.
general tardigrade links:
- the real deal
- i keep trying to tell you people that i'm no scientist. i dropped out
of bio 101, for pete's sake! thank god there are real scientists, like the
good people who run this site, who are thinking and talking about
have i whet your interest? itchin' to learn more? these smart
folks can tell you a thing or two.
the wild tardigrade
you, too, can be a tardigrade farmer. these folks tell you how.
when i started this page way back in 1994 i never would have
guessed that the internet would one day have a tardigrade discussion
forum, but here it is.
i know you've been dying to know more about phylogenetic research
on tardigrades and how it relates to the morphology-based hypotheses of a
tardigrade-arthropod relationship, so here ya go.
a much more complete bibliography than you'll find here.
Tardigrade Candid Camera
these clever scientists at UNC have the best jobs in the world -- they
get to make movies about tardigrades. How do I get that gig? at
least they're nice enough to share with the rest of us.
Kinchin, Ian M. 1994. The
Biology of Tardigardes. Portland Press,
one of the only books (perhaps the only book) dedicated wholly to the
tardigrade. a very thorough investigation of this amazing little
creature -- lots of cool pictures, too! HIGHLY
recommended. if anyone wants to be my best friend,
just spring for that hefty price tag on my behalf and i'll
be all yours, for better or worse...
Blum, M.S. 1985. Fundamentals of insect physiology. John Wiley & Sons, New
Borror, D.J., C.A. Triplehorn & N.F. Johnson, 1989. An introduction to the
insects, 6th. ed. Saunders, Philadelphia.
Brusca, R. C. & G. J. Brusca. 1990. Invertebrates. Sinauer Associates,
Chapman, R.F. 1982. The insects, structure and function, 3rd ed. Harvard
Press, Cambridge, Mass.
Edwards, J.G. 1991. Insect study guide, rev. ed. San Jose State
Danks, H. V. 1987. Insect dormancy: an ecological perspective. Biological
Survey of Canada, Ottawa, Canada.
Ferris, G.F. 1919. A remarkable case of insect longevity. Entomology News
Keilin, F.R.S. 1959. The problem of anabiosis or latent life: history and
current concept. Sci. Progr. 41: 577-591.
Sunose, T. 1983. Prolonged diapause in insects and its ecological
Kotaigun Seitai Gakkai, Kaih 37: 35-48.
wondering what happened to the pictures? sadly, i've had to take
them off the site. here's why.