Meet the Tardigrade!

While doing a little research on cryptobiosis, for a far-future flash story I’m writing about a society where longevity-treatments are the ultimate key to power in a society, I ran across a description of the weirdest animal I’ve ever heard of: the tardigrade, also known as the “water bear”.

Check out these characteristics (courtesy of the Wikipedia entry linked above):

  • Body with four segments and head
  • Ventral nervous system with one ganglion per segment
  • Multilobed brain
  • Triradiate muscular sucking pharynx
  • Stylets
  • A single gonad
  • Instead of a coelom they have a haemocoel, the only place where we still can find a true coelom is around the gonad (coelomic pouch).
  • Cuticle with chitin, molting
  • Males and females present (though some species are parthenogenetic)
  • Four pairs of legs (in genus Hexapodibius reduced to three) without joints
  • Feet with claws or toes
  • Oviparous

And that’s not all: these critters are harder to kill than Rasputin! All kinds of extreme conditions are basically survivable for them:

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