Mysterious Microbes

Specimines

I love tardigrades!
I love tardigrades!
The scientist changed out the case. He explained how the light made the tardigrades hot and inactive. We were at Micropia, the one and only microbiology museum in the world, which is in Amsterdam. It was all about microbes, from unimaginably tiny to relatively large and even visible. My favorite microbe, as you probably already know, is the tardigrade (also known as the water bear and the moss piglet). They are one of the larger microbes, yet not quite visible. The fresh set was incredibly active. They were squirming around. I already knew a lot about water bears*, but I learned even more while the scientist placed the tardigrades under the microscope.
My illustration of a tardigrade egg
My illustration of a tardigrade egg
Real tardigrades under a microscope
Real tardigrades under a microscope

Even though they can survive in temperatures ranging between 300 and -458°f, in my opinion their most fascinating feature is their reproductive cycle. The females grow eggs inside their bodies. Then, they shed their skin, and squirm out of it. The skins of water bears are completely transparent, so through the microscope, I could see a female trying to squirm out of her skin, which held an egg. The egg seemed to take up half her lower body! I could see also males looking around for something, probably the skins of females, containing eggs that needed to be fertilized.

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