A Brand New Tardigrade Species Discovered

A Brand New Tardigrade Tour Discovered
A Brand New Tardigrade Tour Discovered

Tardigrades are small, extraordinarily resilient creatures that can withstand a variety of threats, including those that would wipe out most other known species.

Different types of tardigrades From mountains to oceans and ice sheets, many types of tardigrades have adapted to specific environments. Thanks to their resistance, they are randomly removed from their natural habitats on the entire surface of the planet, increasing their chances of survival thanks to their adaptability.

Researchers have discovered a new species of tardigrade that adapts to sand dunes and provide new evidence in two studies that some tardigrades choose places to colonize by riding inside snails.

The recently discovered tardigrade was discovered by scientists in Rokua National Park in Finland's northern Ostrobothnia region while feeding on lichen and moss in a dune forest.
Rokua's environment has been altered by wind and glaciers, creating eskers, kames, and kettle holes in addition to dunes. The lichen-rich inner dune woodland, a habitat endangered by human activities, is also located here.
Under the direction of Jyvaskyla University biologist Matteo Vecchi, a group of researchers traveled to Rokua to collect moss, lichen, leaf litter and grass roots from the sand.

They discovered not only tardigrades, but also a new species. This species joins the Macrobiotus pseudohufelandi complex, a small group of tardigrades with modifications such as smaller legs and claws to live underground. It is the fifth currently recognized member of the complex.

Researchers named the species Macrobiotus naginae in honor of Nagini, a snake character in the "Harry Potter" books.

"This fictional character, originally a cursed woman and eventually and irreversibly transformed into a limbless monster, gives a fitting name to the new species in the pseudohufelandi complex, which is characterized by reduced legs and claws," they write.

The researchers suggest that these tardigrades, like many underground animals, may have developed smaller limbs for a more streamlined shape for crawling on soil or sand.

While tardigrades generally need water, they also have the ability to withstand prolonged dry periods, which can be beneficial in more desert areas.

During anhydrobiosis, tardigrades expel water from their bodies, turning into a dry, almost unbreakable speck known as tun. A tardigrade can live in this suspended state for years or even decades until it quickly revives in the presence of water.
Tun state can also protect tardigrades from a variety of other threats, such as high temperatures, low oxygen levels, oxygen deprivation, X-ray bombardment, gunfire, and outer space.

This skill can help tardigrades survive dry periods in their habitat, or help them colonize new areas by guiding them through hostile terrain if the wind blows them away.

According to a different study by Vecchi and colleagues, the overall situation is not the only mode of transportation for tardigrades. While there is no evidence that the new species moves in this way, their study implies that ingestion and defecation by the snails is still a viable route of movement, even though the snail's gut is too wet for anhydrobiosis.

Some plant seeds and spores of lichens, mosses and ferns, as well as other small organisms such as nematodes and oribatid mites, can survive by passing through a snail's digestive tract.

While several previous studies have shown that snails don't have a very good safety record for tardigrade passengers, this study shows the same is true for tardigrades.

Of the ten tardigrades the researchers found in the feces of wild snails (Arianta arbustorum) in a garden in Finland, five were still alive. They also fed 694 tardigrades with laboratory snails, and then 218 living tardigrades were found in the snails' waste.

The researchers reported that, in addition to the 78 dead tardigrades they found in the feces, the remaining 398 tardigrades "must have been digested and destroyed by the snail's digestive tract."

Still, the surviving tardigrades continued to breed successfully in a lab, so 31 percent is still better than zero.

According to the study, most of the survivors emerged on the second day after the snails passed the tardigrades. Although snails are not known for their speed, they can move faster than tardigrades due to their size.

While these snails move an average of 0,18 to 0,58 meters per day, according to previous studies, they can reach a maximum of 5 meters per day.

The researchers point out that tardigrades can travel up to 10 meters per trip in a two-day pass through the gut of a snail, a significant distance for creatures smaller than 1 millimeter.

Tardigrades can be compulsive travelers because the snails have no say in where to take them. But just like tardigrades, these snails prefer wet and mossy environments, so survivors have a good chance of finding a friendly environment.

Source: Zoological Studies and Ecology

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