Water Bears

July 06, 2017

Tardigrade water bear 050617 composite (4)3 (1)

Photographer: John Stetson
Summary Authors: John Stetson; Jim Foster

Shown above is a 4-image composite of a tardigrade (also known as a water bear) observed and imaged at 400x magnification. This specimen is approximately 0.75 mm in length and was captured in Sebago Lake, Maine. Water bears are extraordinary little animals. As their nickname implies, these tough little critters and can seemingly survive whatever nature can throw at them; they've been found at the bottom of the sea and on top of Himalayan peaks. In a 2007 experiment, they even survived a trip in Earth's orbit. One of their keys to dealing with extremely harsh environments is just to dry up. This trick drops their metabolism to about 0.01 percent of its normal rate and permits them to remain in a state of suspended animation for several decades. Photo taken on May 6, 2017.