A rock wall (III) - or: holiday time
Of course our sample from the rock wall did contain a few quite "normal" species as well.
As the microscopist is used to all kind of true micro miracles (they are omnipresent in our samples ...)
he or she might wish to simply skip those tardigrades "of minor importance" during the investigations
- eagerly searching for some thrilling new species like one with 10 legs or seven noses :-).
So the following sequence of images is intended to make clear once more that also
an everyday tardigrade is worth studying and moreover nice to look at.
Many old school microscopists will not cease to tell you that a photomicrograph
will be worthless in case it shouldn't reveal as much anatomical detail as possible.
We do not agree. Quite in contrary, we think that a good tardigrade portrait
might be spoiled by overwhelming anatomical detail. When talking to a man or a women
you probably would as well prefer not to see the inner organs like the liver or the heart,
Portrait of a mid-sized tardigrade from the
Austrian rock wall.
Body length close to 0.3 mm.
What we like in this portrait: the round "kiss mouth"
and the dynamic side view of a stylet base. Furthermore it becomes clear
that the front end of the mouth tube is quite a complex construction, being well able
to control which kind of food might be acceptable and what kind of other material should
be hindered from entering entering the mouth tube. And, as with portraits of human beings we feel much more
comfortable when at least one eye is in focus.
The same tardigrade, now seen in top view.
But two eyes will do even better. Because we like symmetry?
Or possibly, because we are starting to see real faces then? In any case the vivid gesture
is indicating the power of a microscopic individuum.
The same tardigrade, this time
in classical, "anatomy-focus" top view.
The classical top view doesn't look as lively and energetic as the one
before. But we are able to perceive the stylet springs and we might even be able to
measure the wall thickness of the mouth tube! Besides it can be seen that the kidney-like geometry, black eye pigment
is embedded within brain lobes (hind parts of the brain in the tardigrade head region).
The same tardigrade, focus on the
You will notice how quickly we can return to anatomical
pea counting. Besides we have three so-called macroplacoids of approximately same
size, alltogether 3x3x2 macroplacoids (not all of them being visible here).
The same tardigrade, focus on head and claws.
Of course we could already have focused the first image
more towards the claws as they are of utmost importance for classical taxonomy, like this one.
Same tardigrade, focus towards the claws only.
Also the claw discussions can end up quite complex,
so we do not want to go much into detail here.
Same tardigrade, hind pair of legs.
What do you think the genus might be?
Same tardigrade, focus towards the claws.
Our more addictive readers probaly will remember that we had
already discussed the spoon-type flexible claw joints of Hypsibius in a previous issue -
those shown here are typical Hypisibius claws as well.
Same tardigrade, further top view.
Do you see the small edge between the block-like base
and the rest of the stylet? Is this a special property? Honestly - we do not know but we can see it.
Of course you have been noticing our constant change between
portrait perspective and detail emphasis. As you are an amateur, both pathways will be
allowed for you. Just enjoy, without formaldehyde, without statistics and without any
publication delivery deadline!
© Text, images and video clips by
Martin Mach (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Water Bear web base is a licensed and revised version of
the German language monthly magazine
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