Eternal sleep? - a dry state with expiry
In the last issue of the Water Bear
web base we had reanimated - very few - tardigrades from a moss cushion that
had been kept perfectly dry for more than four years. And we had announced
to look out for some moss samples which had been dry even for decades!
The antiquarian's internet platform ZVAB (www.zvab.com) is offering millions
of books - but not only books. From time to time you will notice that a few other 'cuckoo'
items are smuggled in as well. This might be annoying in some cases but could
turn out as a lucky coincidence as well.
One day we stumbled across such a 'false' book of particular interest to us.
It was offered as a "Moss Herbarium by Frater Erhard, Eichstätt
(Germany), 1925" at a rather modest price.
Our elder readers will be aware of those long-gone hobbyists who
spent days and weeks collecting plants outside, later carefully drying them
between sheets of paper, then labeling and storing them for personal study
and later reference. Many private herbaria are now considered to be useless
and are sold at flea markets. In fact very few people actually care about those
dust-covered remains of past periods. Museums suffer from ample 19th century
herbaria collections with thousands of
items which tend to yellow, to dissolve into hopeless paper fragment and which
even attract all kinds of nasty avid microzoological paper shredding individuals.
Moreover, today's young people as a rule will consider those herbarium
activities as an hopelessly outdated, old-fashioned behaviour.
"You see, when I am looking out for an image of a plant, I will simply
use an internet search engine and there will be thousands of pictures ...".
Yes, agreed, they will find their images, but there will be some severe loss of inherent
information as well: just keep in mind that those old-fashioned herbaria do preserve the
plants themselves, in their material entity - and possibly some tardigrades
contained within the yellow paper as well?
Our antiquarian's herbarium is rather modest, like a box of cigarettes
in size. It contains a 2 cm stack of 38 paper sheets, each one with a moss plant
sample, neatly sticked to the center of the sheet and labelled with funny old
German names like "Spitzblättriges Farnmoos" and in parallel
with the respective Latin binary scientific designation as well (in this case