Milnesium tardigradum, one of the most abundant and ubiquitous
terrestric tardigrade species in Europe and possibly worldwide, represents
a well-defined and unique position with respect to the rest of tardigrade
species, a fact which becomes evident when comparing the anatomy and motion
characteristics of this animal with other water bears.
Whereas some other species can be identified only by a professional biologist
Milnesium is easily recognized also by the microscope amateur due to its unique
Whereas most of the water bears prefer vegetarian food, Milnesium is
considered as one of the more carnivorous species, eating rotifers
The animals are really tough and long-living. This seems to be one of the
main reasons why Milnesium is one of the best-studied species so far.
be kept in a petri dish over a longer period without problems whereas e.g.
many Echiniscus species can't survive without regular desiccation.
The typical body length is about 0.5 mm. In the scientific literature
we can find maximum values up to 1.2 mm. The body shape is lengthy and
resembles a fish, in particular the strongly curved end of the body has a
close similarity with a shrimp.
The last pair of legs is somewhat apart and is orientated to the back, not to the side.
Its main purpose seems to be for grasping objects or gaining distance from
objects, not so much for crawling.
The rapid motion of Milnesium and its head sometimes have been compared to
In particular when seen in incident light the body fluid sometimes appears
in reddish (rose) colour. The buccal tube is very short and wide and the pharynx has pear form.