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In the  march issue   we have seen that signs of old age are not a 'privilege' of man and of the so-called higher animals. The microscopic water bears obviously have to cope with a series of similar symptoms, too.

Remember the pigment spots, the leather-type skin and the increasing amount of body fat of old water-bears. Just look through your microscope and you will notice the slow movements of the elderly water bears which are very different from the smooth muscle play of the young ones.

All this reminds us once more of the sad fact that our own individual existence on earth is quite limited as well. But don't get depressed now and stay cool ;-)
Obviously you are still able to read and to enjoy this text.

And now we will turn our attention to the more easy-going complementary topic. We will look at splendid youth in all its beauty:

[young water bear]

Water bear Echiniscus mediantus as a small child. Please note the big head and the extremely short hind legs. Length ca. 0.1 mm.

Some among you will perhaps notice the similarity to new-born babies who have similar crescent-shaped legs. Furthermore we do know from school biology that a baby head is bigger in proportion than the head of a grown-up person. Once again, tardigrades are similar.

The babies of the   Genus Echiniscus   have only two claws on each leg:

[young water bear]

Water bear baby. Note that the legs of this very young Echinisicus tardigrade have only two claws. After the first moulting it will have four claws on each leg.
Overall length less than 0.1 mm.

Though it might sound a little bit too emotional to you I would venture to say that those water bear youngsters really seem to enjoy life. And though in our eyes their universe is quite limited - in fact it is just a small water film - they take possession of this universe in an impressive manner:

[young water bear]

Ready for life!

And, once again, switch on your sound card and have a look at our animation in the  Video Clip Gallery II   in order to see a young water bear in full movement.
It will take a while to load (the file size is about 1 MB) but possibly you will admit later on that it was definitely worth while.

Come in next month - the Water Bear web base is free of charge!

© Text, images, and video clips by  Martin Mach  (webmaster@baertierchen.de).
Water Bear web base is a licensed and revised version of the German language monthly magazine  Bärtierchen-Journal . Style and grammar amendments by native speakers are warmly welcomed.

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