[Title fragment 1.1] [Title fragment 1.2] [Title fragment 1.3]
[Title fragment 2.1] [Title fragment 2.2] [Title fragment 2.3]
[Title fragment 3.1] [Title fragment 3.2] [Title fragment 3.3]

Tardigrades - the emotional footprint

In a not-too-serious analogy we are going to illustrate an emotional tardigrade footprint, similar to the ubiquituous human carbon dioxide footprint. You see, we are simply talking about the emotional impact of the tardigrades on us humans. The topic is split up into three parts:

(1) Our personal tardigrade relationship
(2) Historical tardigrade centered emotions
(3) Present day tardigrade centered emotions

(2) Historical tardigrade centered emotions

Introductory remark: Who on earth would only slightly doubt that the tardigrade in the center of the engraving below is in fact the lonely star in the scenery?

[  ]

Fig.: Colored engraving, ca. 1870. We are going to try a translation of the text that came with the original illustration as follows: "In the center of the image there are two threads of vegetable material intersecting with each other. A so-called water-bear [original German text: Bärthierchen] is shown crawling on them - an animal commonly considered to be part of the family of mites. Its extraordinary survival capability made it appear as one of the most miraculous beings until science was able to show that this was simply due to the hygroscopic properties of its tissue." (quite funny, isn't it?)

Let's simply quote a few remarks by several tardigrade admirers, pondering the special characteristics of the tardigrades. And we shouldn't forget that those remarks are not only describing the tardigrades but do actually reflect back on the souls of the scientists themselves:

"The inner organization of the beautiful and strange animals [...]"


Heinz Streble, Dieter Krauter: Das Leben im Wassertropfen. Stuttgart 1973. p. 98
(Translation from the German text).

"There is a kind of Chinese toy: Small platelets, which make appear relatively large fishes, birds etc. when put on warm water: this reminds of the birth act of a tardigrade."


Ferdinand Richters: Die Bärtierchen (Tardigraden).
Mikrokosmos, Sammelband 1907-1910. p. 89
(Translation from the German text).

"The sensory capacity of the tardigrades cannot be neglectible when considering the voluminous size of their nervous system."


Ernst Marcus: Bärtierchen (Tardigrada). p. 22.
Jena 1928.
(Translation from the German text).

"Bizarre looking characters are among them."
(Translation from the German text).


Ferdinand Richters: Die Bärtierchen (Tardigraden).
Mikrokosmos 1 (1907) p. 87.

"... one male counted versus 25 females ..."


Ernst Marcus: Tardigrada. Berlin 1936. p. 323 (text section about Milnesium tardigradum, translated from the German version).

"... it does look ridiculously like a bear."


Lewis Wright: A Popular Handbook to the Microscope. p. 167. London, The Religious Tract Society, 1895.

After such bundled hopelessly un-scientific emotion some criticism from the side of serious science was unavoidable - here is one example:

"... Frequently found in the more obscure journals,
they are occasionally the subject of somewhat dubious reports ..."


Brian Paavo, internet snippet, referring to tardigrades (1995)

Furthermore, there are some comments in publications revealing considerable perplexity and cluelessness with respect to tardigrades:

"They (the water water bears) need only little amounts of nutrition due to their tinyness. As a consequence they are able to survive longer ..."


Dr. Johannes Leunis: Schul-Naturgeschichte. Eine analytische Darstellung der drei Naturreiche, zum Selbstbestimmen der Naturkörper. 4th edition, first part, p. 247.
Hannover, Hahn'sche Hofbuchhandlung 1861
(Translation from German language).

"The first observer of this animal [the tardigrade] was pastor   G o e z e , inhabitant of the city of Quedlinburg. He described it in the year 1773 as 'small water bear' though it looks more like a piglet."


Bruno Schulz: Bärtierchen im Mikroaquarium.
Aus: Aquarien und Terrarien. p. 137. Leipzig 1955
(Translation from German language).

"Mr. Slack's account of them is, that they (the tardigrades) are, physiologically speaking,  poor relations  of the great family of spiders."


The Honourable Mrs. Ward: The Microscope. p. 136-137.
London 1869.

"The water-bears are said to be hermaphrodites, but this is improbable."


Henry J. Slack: Marvels of pond-life or a year's recreations among the polyps, infusoria, rotifers, water-bears, and polyzoa. 6th ed., p. 133. London, without date (ca. 1900).

"... In the 200 years since the water bear was first described,
we have not identified any medical, commercial or environmental effect of tardigrades ..."


William R. Miller, somewhere in the internet ...

Further hints toward animal-emotional literature:

Helen Scales: Poseidon's steed - The story of seahorses, from myth to reality. New York 2009. [very good and very emotional ;-)]

Till Hein: Crazy horse - launische Faulpelze, gefräßige Tänzer und schwangere Männchen - Die schillernde Welt der Seepferdchen. mare Verlag, Hamburg 2021.
[in German, for those who are able to understand this language ... ]

© 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.

Main Page