Posts Tagged ‘Channel Islands’

While playing with some moss in Wisconsin, I started to wonder about the lucky creatures that get to live in the plush green “moss forest” and I recalled reading about the tardigrade. The tardigrade, or more lovingly known as the water bear, is a fantastical creature that lumbers around on its four pairs of stumpy legs, transporting its barrel-shaped body to feed on bacteria and plant cells. Only about the size of 1 mm, these microscopic invertebrates are a force beyond belief, with adaptations that make it more indestructible than a NYC cockroach.

The stocky little organisms must have a film of water around their body to permit gas exchange, which explains why you find them in moist environments like moss. In order to survive when their environment becomes desiccated, tardigrades have developed the ability to revert to a hibernation and almost death-like state. This state, cryptobiosis, allows the creatures to reversibly suspend their metabolism to a hundredth percent of its normal rate and expel nearly all the water in its body. It can remain in this state, at which point the water bear is referred to as a tun, for up to 100 years. So not only does this creature get to roam around the fuzziest of green carpets, but it also drank from the fountain of everlasting life. Oh moss, how you intrigue me.

The twigster,


PS: Some travel plan developments: We will be camping in the Channel Islands National Park off the coast of California for a week in March. Paradise.


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