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Maritime tardigrades (III)

Okay, it is tiny and it is definitely not splendid. Nevertheless we present this image with pride, as it depicts a small  maritime baby tardigrade. Small because it is a baby and, in addition small because it belongs to a small stature Batillipes species.
Summa summarum an incredibly small, almost frightingly small tardigrade within the phylum of those anyway extremely minaturized tardigrades.

[ Batillipes tardigrade, total view ]

Maritime baby tardigrade (Batillipes sp.), far off from its Atlantic Ocean home sand, born in a toothbrush glass positioned on a Munich window-sill.
It can be identified as a youngster as it has only four adhesive discs per leg - adults have six. Body length well below 0.1 mm. Still image snapshot from one of our HD videos.

It is reassuring that we are still able to find the usual eight legs. Eye pigment is missing in the case of Batillipes, understandable as it houses within the spaces between sand grains.

The strongly magnified detail photograph below depicts the speroid pharynx with its radial muscles, and two bent stylets on the right and left hand side of the mouth tube. Please note also the stylet spring supports linked to the stylets by globular joints.

[ Batillipes tardigrade, head region ]

Batillipes sp. tardigrade, head region. Image width less than 50 µm.

The clip below shows the pendulum movements of the head and the different role of the fourth pair of legs which is not being used here.
Prof. Ferdinand Richters, who was the first to describe the Batillipes genus, had the impression that the various head cirri were reminding of a catfish. In any case we should keep in mind that Batillipes definitely owns an impressive amount of sensorics which feed their information into a brain.

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In the next issue we will have ac loser look at the adhesive discs. Batillipes is one of those very rare animals on earth which are able to walk on wet glass and moreover stick to it like glued when necessary.

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