Water Bear New Species Found

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Water Bear
Courtesy of Ars Electronica (Flickr CC0)

Scientists discovered a new species of water bears, almost missing from the records that can help them learn about the Earth’s ancient and more resilient inhabitants. The fossil is an excellent example of a tardigrade. Scientists had a closer look at the imagery in micron-level details like the mouthparts and the claws 20-30 times finer than the human hair.

This microscopic organism is an eight-legged micro-animals known for its survival ability under extreme conditions from volcanic vents to frigid climes of Antarctica. It can resist lethal doses of radiation and resists the vacuum of space, according to the Science report of Jonathan O’Callaghan. It can even withstand deadly speeds of 1,845 miles per hour.

To test the scientist’s theory of water bears impact survival limits, researchers loaded it into a gun and fired at sandbag targets and found that water bears can survive the violent impacts to a specific limit before they fall to pieces.

The Harvard University and New Jersey Institute of Technology researchers discovered the fossil in Proceedings of the Royal Society B on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021.

Water Bear
Courtesy of Rebekah Smith (Flickr CC0)

The fossil is the first of water bears found in the Earth’s current geological era beginning 66 million years ago. The senior author of the study, Phil Barden, called the discovery a once-in-a-generation event. The water bears have a remarkable ubiquitous ancient lineage, but they have no fossil record.

According to National Geographic, roughly 1,300 species of tardigrades are in the dunes, deep ocean, and freshwater mosses. These creatures are extremophiles and can survive 30 years without food and temperatures zero to boiling point.

Scientists call this new water bear species Paradoryphoribius chronocaribbeus. Its new home is at the American Museum of Natural History.

Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware


NPR: Researchers found a new species of water bear fossilized in a hunk of ancient amber; Nell Clark
CBS News: Scientists discover “once-in-a-generation” fossilized water bear in 16-million-year-old amber; by Li Cohen

Featured and Top Image Maria Antonia Schmidt Courtesy of Ars Electronica’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Rebekah Smith’s Flickr Page – Public Domain License