Thai tardies (II)
We go back to the last photograph from the previous issue - perhaps you
will remember that we had found an empty tardigrade cuticula, in a
maritime sand sample from Thailand.
Empty cuticula of a maritime tardigrade,
left behind after moulting.
But, the correspondimg live tardigrade had been
missing. Much has been written, here in our magazine, but also in the
scientific literature, about endless tardigrade searches and about the
mysterious disappearence and re-appearance of whole tardigrade populations,
either in samples from one and the same location or in micro-aquaria.
Searching and finding will always remain a substantial part of tardigrade
microscopy. And every time you will find your first tardigrade in a
new sample you might happily enjoy the thrill and marvel of its
mere existence. A dissecting microscope with wide-angle eye-pieces
will provide full immersion, helping us to feel like micro-divers
immerged between the sand grains. But of course not all the movements
in the sample will be caused by tardigrades. You will come across
many species which move vividly as well:
Small water animal, living in the interstitial space between the sand grains
but, admittedly, definitely not a tardigrade. Photographed through the "sand grain world window".
Body length ca. 0.3 mm.
Almost close? this might be the hind part of
a tardigrade ...
... wrong, totally wrong. These are
merely the glassy appendices of a water plant, a so-called
diatom , as
you will easily note when looking at the anterior part of the body.
Nice to look at but, of course, disappointing with respect to our tardigrade search.
But after the patient search the great moment of discovery
will come, this time with an exotic Thai tardigrade. Here it is:
Video (1 MB): Maritime tardigrade from Thailand, moving over a sand grain.
Body length ca. 0.1 mm. Does it really make sense to call this apparently busy animal a Tardigrade (remember
that the term indicates a slow moving animal)? Please note with how easily this
tardigrade moves the huge sand grain to the left side!
Once you will have found one the them also the others will come in sight,
e.g. this one with its huge tail appendix:
Small Batillipes sp. tardigrade from a Thai sea sand sample.
Body length ca. 0.1 mm.
We will come back to the taxonomic challenge in one of the upcoming
issues. But we are quite aware that amateurs must stay modest with respect to tardigrade species
© Text, images and video clips by
Martin Mach (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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