Friday, April 18, 2014

Eat Your Tardigrades or You Don't Get No Dessert!

You know this little guy, right? It’s the mighty tardigradeTardigrades, also known as water bears, also known as FREAKIN’ MOSS PIGLETS, are microscopic eight-legged animals that can withstand temperatures from near absolute zero to boiling water, absorb extreme doses of radiation, go without food or water for ten years, and even survive the vacuum of space. They can even be completely dried out and ride on the wind to a new home, where they rehydrate and go about their tardigrade type business. Tardigrade rain, folks.
In other words, they are BAMFs (bad-ass microfauna).
Oh, and you’ve probably eaten them.  These water-dwelling super-critters live not only on wild mosses and wet plants, but on grocery store produce like lettuce and spinach. Do you think that a mere rinse or shake under the faucet (or even cooking) is enough to dislodge a radiation-eating space pig? Ha! Not by a long shot. 
So yeah… trying to go strictly vegetarian? You’ve almost certainly eaten some tardigrades. Sorry. Don’t worry, though. They’re totally harmless. I like to imagine that when I eat them, I absorb their power, and become a little bit mightier.
New motto: For strength, eat your vegetables and eat your tardigrades.

Here's a great link about your local tardigrade friends. Science is for everyone!
Update: In the comments I received a visit from Mike Shaw, the man known as The Water Bear Hunter, who has made the study of tardigrades his passionate speciality. To learn more bout these little guys, check out his web site, Tardigrade USA!


Mike Shaw said...

More about tardigrades on my website:

By the way - what is your source to say that tardigrades are found on lettuce and spinach? It is definitely worth an investigation by some students for a science fair - and an easy one to do.

Do you have any anecdotes or sources about this?

Mike Shaw
The Water Bear Hunter

microdot said...

MIke, I have been fascinated by these little guys for as long as I have know they existed. Everything I read about them only makes them more incredible as far as the possibilities of life on earth and on other planets. I found the gif for this piece on a very eclectic blog I love from Argentina! I culled the facts for my piece from a variety of sources. I googled your name and found that you are one of the experts on tardigrades and have been working with kids. I'm not an expert, I only play one on television. I had read a piece that talked about the impossibility of eliminating these little guys from the commercial food chain. I thought it was an interesting and humorous paradox to present to strict can philosophically make the moral decision not to eat animate creatures, but when you really understand the complexity of the real world we live in, that premise is as unreal and as insupportable as evangelical christianity. Thanks for your link, as I said I have been fascinated with these guys for years. You can teach me!

microdot said...

BTW, Mike, here is the link I got the info about tardigrades on food. It's pretty good and I have it in a link in the article.