You've heard of black bears, grizzly bears, polar bears, but have you ever heard of the water bear? You probably passed one sometime this week, in fact, maybe just outside your front door. You can't see him, and he can't see you, so there's no need to fear his mighty claws. He lumbers around on his eight legs in search of food and... wait...did I just say "eight legs"??? Yep. This lovable, microscopic, gummy bear is one of nature's little known secrets. Looking like a child's favorite snack food, it has amazing features. It can shrivel down to almost coffee ground consistency and fall asleep during a drought, but just a drop of water will revive it, even 100 years later! In their dry state, they can survive freezing, extreme heat, and radiation. They are most likely to be found in a mossy area, though they have even been found in Antarctica!
Controversy seems to follow this little guy. Some say it is extraterrestrial in origin. In fact, in their dry state, they can survive the vacuum of space.
For an AMAZING
video (1.0 megs, so give it time!) of a water bear walking, click here: http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/imgnov01/wbsweets.wmv
This video was taken by Martin Mach, the unofficial authority on water bears. He writes a newsletter entirely devoted to them. It is at The Water Bear Web Base: http://www.baertierchen.de/wbwb.html
So unique are the water bears that they have their own Phylum. They also go by the name tardigrade, but, my favorite of all, is it's other name...moss piglet. Now that's something to squeal about.