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The 3D Ebay tardigrade

The internet water bear world is increasing in complexity - difficult not to lose track of it. Nevertheless we would like to present our recent Ebay water bear acquisition:

[ Ebay water bear figurine ]

Ebay offer 191140643785 by seller Jubei88 from Hongkong (sorry, it has vanished by now) "RARE Kaiyodo Takara Microbe Tardigrade Waterbear Moss Piglet Secret SP Figure"

[ Ebay water bear figurine ]

And this is the real thing as photographed on our desk after auction!

Why do we like it? Quite easy to explain: we think that it is fascinating how somebody managed to translate the tiny transparent tardigrade into a tangible object - and, at a reasonable price.

Of course one might still criticize the result. For example the razor-sharp claws of Hypsibius dujardini - look definitely softer than in reality. But we can imagine that those claws might be terribly difficult to cast in artificial resin. And it must be admitted that the overall impression of transparency, in particular of the green stomach-intestine region, is quite impressive.

Light microscopic photography will never reach a similar threedimensional appeal. It is not so much a question of stacking focus levels but moreover a problem of perspective. Under the light microscope you will mostly end up with a top view (dorsal view) of the tardigrade, front or side views are difficult to achieve.

The scanning electron microscope (SEM) cannot compete as well. Agreed, most SEM images do show an impressive threedimensional depth. But, at a price: those SEM tardigrades look like grey dust cleaner bags. All the transpareny has gone, not even the eyes are visible any more, simply because the electron beam cannot penetrate into the tardigrade skin.

Of course the Ebay tardigrade is small, definitely smaller than e.g. Damian Hirst's famous shark. But, when looking at it soberly, Damian Hirst's shark is simply a dead animal shown in a 1:1 scale, whereas the Ebay tardigrade is a quite realistic translation of a microscopic marvel into an tangible object. And without the necessity to kill a tardigrade. Perfect.
Moreover it is quite cheap when compared to the estimated 8 to 12 Mio. bucks paid for the art shark. One positive aspect of the art shark is the inbuilt criticism towards zoological animal specimen preservation as declared by the artist (so we feel some sympathy for the shark artist and his product as well).

© 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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