Two water bears (Paramacrobiotus fairbanki), color enhanced scanning electron micrograph (SEM). Water bears (or tardigrades) are tiny invertebrates that live in aquatic and semi-aquatic habitats such as lichen and damp moss. They require water to obtain oxygen by gas exchange. In dry conditions, they can enter a cryptobiotic state of desiccation, known as a tun, to survive. In this state, water bears can survive for up to a decade. This species was found in moss samples from Alaska. It is a carnivore that feeds nematodes, rotifers and protozoa. Water bears are found throughout the world, including regions of extreme temperature, such as hot springs, and extreme pressure, such as deep underwater. They can also survive high levels of radiation and the vacuum of space. Magnification: x200 when printed 10cm wide.
March 5th, 2013
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