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Tardigrades - the emotional footprint

In a not-too-serious analogy we are going to define an emotional tardigrade footprint, similar to the ubiquituous human carbon dioxide footprint. Thus the topic of this issue is the emotional impact of the tardigrades on us humans. We are going to split this up into three issues:

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

(1) Our personal tardigrade relationship

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Fig. 1: The famous Croatian island called Rab - a quite typical holiday destination? And it goes wothout saying that those towers can be perfectly admired without the use of a microscope.

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Fig. 2: And there is no reason not to enjoy the cultural and culinary framework - but we shouldn't start off with a very strong, dark Tomislav beer ...

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Fig. 3: Within our luggage are a vintage Hertel&Reuss CN-hF microscope and a Hertel&Reuss STE5 stereo microcope of similar age (the 1970s), the latter pimped with two Leitz 15 x eye-pieces. In the center of the image, between the two microscopes, is our fine sea water micro aquarium. We call it "Rocharium" due to its normal content consisting of "Ferrero Rocher" sweets ;-). This crystal clear polystyrene container is filled with local Croatian sea-sand (almost pure sand - see below) plus a few millimeters' height of sea water.

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Fig. 4: Besides the microscopic world we do still enjoy the other, bigger objects of the marine environment like this "fried egg" jellyfish. Please note how this jellyfish is offering shelter to a group of tiny symbiontic fishes. Frankly speaking we do not understand why this highly hospitable species apparently doesn't show up in a dedicated website yet. Perhaps because it has no eyes and doesn't look like a pet (as our tardigrades do)?

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Fig. 5: As a further aside, please have a look at this strange maritime sand which can be found in the so-called Lopar region of the Rab island. It is virtually stuffed with fossil lens-like foraminifera (cf. next image).

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Fig. 6: Those who have their STE5 at hand are lucky as they can achieve a closer look. The formaninifera shown here range between ca. 3 mm and 5 mm in diameter.

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Fig. 7: And most times, after some intense searching, we find tardigrades, too. This one was living in the main harbour bay of the Rab island. We didn't want to bother it further for enhanced photography as this species was already presented in our August 2018  issue. Its genus is called Halechiniscus.

The stretched out tardigrade foot is one example illustrating why we feel sympathy for those micro invertebrates. Probably it is triggering mental associations with our own limbs helping us to gain distance from or proximity to some object in our world.

In any case the tardigrade had to wait a long time in order to get "emotionally detected". You can't love someone who is invisible. In the next issue of our magazine we will document the load of tardigrade emotions pronounced by the early tardigrade scientists.

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.

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