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Halechiniscus cuticula - as seen in detail (I)

No chance. Apparently all our Florarctus and Halechiniscus tardigrades had disappeared within the micro aquarium, possibly eaten by the dark mites (we talked about this). So we have to go back to older images in order to continue with the topic at hand.

Fortunately we had already previously studied and photographed some of the Halechiniscus cuticulae from Krapanj.

At first glance and at low magnification you will perceive the typical horizontal wrinkles running across the Halechiniscus sp. cuticula (see below). These might be a primary property of the cuticula, and/or possibly arise from bending during movement.

Furthermore we can see some kind of pebble plastered "trousers" at the hind body:

[ Halechiniscus Cuticula from the Krapanj island: total view ]

Halechiniscus cuticula (left back by the tardigrade after moulting). Bright field image. Length of the cuticula ca. 0.2 mm.

The overall structure can be much better understood when considering the fact that the tardigrade has left the cuticula through a large gap on the back side, thus leaving the impression of some kind of jacket and trousers (which is a misleading intellectual track, of course).

[ Halechiniscus Cuticula von der kroatischen Insel Krapanj: Totale ]

Head region of the Halechiniscus cuticula with various surface characteristics and fine granulation.

An other detail which cannot be made out easily is the so-called gonopore at the ventral side of the cutucula within a kind of rosette structure.

[ Halechiniscus Cuticula von der kroatischen Insel Krapanj: Totale ]

The rosette form gonopore (a primary sexual characteristic of Halechiniscus) is situated in the ventral region, about at the fourth quarter of the body length. Its structure is difficult to make out in the light microscope (here in the very center). Image width less than 50 Ám.

In the first image on the very top of this page you will be able to see a long, lobe formed protrusion in the head region pointing to the right which is called a "clava" in literature. Apparently nobody knows for sure what the clava actually does. Possibly it is serving as some kind of chemometric sensor.

Please keep in mind that the far-from-live content discussed here is due to the black mites which are under suspicion of having devoured our beloved tardigrades in the micro aquarium. Otherwise we would have been able to show some better live video material - terribly sorry.


Ernst Marcus: Tardigrada. p. 95. Berlin 1929 [Attention please: this is the 600 pp version, not the short one!]

© Text, images and video clips by  Martin Mach  (webmaster@baertierchen.de).
The 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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