Okay, I’ve just reached a whole new level of geekdom, and I couldn’t be more excited! Today I joined the International Society of Tardigrade Hunters. (Membership is free.) There’s instructions on how to hunt your very own tardigrades, and ways to share them with the scientific community. There’s even a blog. I’ve also joined a Facebook group called Tardigrades are Awesome.
Tardigrades, also known as water bears, are tiny 8-legged creatures that are smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. You come into contact with thousands of them every day without even realizing it. They look like a cross between the Michelin tire man and your toddler in flannel footie pajamas and an astronaut in a space suit. Only with 8 legs. And claws. And sharp little teeth. What’s not to love?
My next step is to find a cheap microscope on Craig’s List. Then I’ll be observing these fascinating little guys, and if successful, I’ll be sending them off to the University of North Carolina, where they’ll look at them with a much more high powered microscope and if they find them interesting, they’ll take photos of them and put them on the society’s blog. That’s when I’ll know I’ve truly arrived!
What rekindled my interest in these creatures is reading this article, which shows that they can even survive being frozen solid for 31 years! They also survive the vacuum of space. They must be living right.
While I search for an affordable microscope, I’ll listen to the Tardigrade Song by Cosmo Sheldrake and smile.