Behavior

The name Tardigrada means "slow walker" and was given to the first described species of eutardigrades by the Italian scientist Spallanzani in 1776. He described their lumbering gait and in the capacity to form tuns in the cryptobiotic state, but already in 1773, the German priest Goeze had called a tardigrade Kleiner Wasser Bär (little water bear). The fascinating appearance of a moss-living eutardigrade, with its slow and bear-like gait, gives the observer associations to a miniature teddy bear. However, many tardigrades are not slow walkers at all. The carnivorous eutardigrade, Milnesium tardi-gradum, is the tiger among the water bears. When it attacks nematodes or rotifers, it moves very quickly and several of the eight legs do not touch the substrate during the jump. The fastest mowing tardigrades are found among the very specialized arthrotardigrades. In the genus Batillipes, the claws have been modified to form suction discs. The moving behavior of the species, Batillipes noerrevangi from Denmark, has been video-recorded. This species uses its toe discs for suction, as in the suction discs of geckoes. When it moves from a sand grain under the microscope to the glass slide, it moves faster than the human eye can follow.

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