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New tardigrade found in Japanese auto park

New tardigrade found in Japanese auto park”

A newfound species of tardigrade, or "water bear", with tendril-festooned eggs has been discovered in the parking lot of an apartment building in Japan. He plucked a clump of moss protruding from the concrete and took it back to the lab for testing.

The flexible filaments also occur in M. paulinae from Africa and M. polypiformis from South America, but M. shonaicus differs from them, in that its eggs have a solid surface "between egg processes".

The team looked at the puffy little creatures under the microscope and analysed their DNA to confirm they were a new species: Macrobiotus shonaicus.

Titled "An integrative description of Macrobiotus shonaicus sp. November (Tardigrada: Macrobiotidae) from Japan with notes on its phylogenetic position within the hufelandi group", the open-access paper was printed online Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE. They like to live in moss, decaying leaves and soil and were first discovered by German zoologist Johann August Ephraim Goeze in 1773.

Tardigrades are the most indestructible known complex organism on Earth, and perhaps the cutest of all microorganisms. These 10 tardigrades "were used to start a laboratory culture to obtain more individuals required for the range of analyses".

For example, they can live a decade without water and can survive in outer space.

Scientists have been testing tardigrades for years, heating them up to 300 degrees and freezing them to -328 degrees Fahrenheit.

'However, there are also other reasons [to study them]. In these extreme environments, the animals will enter a type of hibernation called cryptobiosis, in which they recoil into a compact, dried ball and stay dormant for an indefinite period of time. Fossilised tardigrades date back more than 500 million years. They can suspend their metabolisms and survive huge amounts of pressure, and they've also been zapped with X-rays.

The new identification brings the number of known tardigrade species in Japan from 167 to 168. Tardigrades can be found all over the world, and there over 1,000 described species so far - but scientists think there could be many more. These features might help the egg attach to the surface where it is laid, Arakawa said. After working with other tardigrade experts, it was determined that the tardigrade was a newfound species.

Researchers confirmed that the new species contains a combination of characteristics from other species and it is likely descended from an ancient element. So it's not as if Arakawa had never scraped up a bit of moss before, just to study on a whim. The dehydration resistance of water bears could help inform scientists on how to preserve biological material, like cells, crops, and meats.

Tardigrades are microscopic invertebrates that are close to the arthropods.



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