I think we can all agree that tardigrades are just about the most interesting animals on the planet – if not in the whole universe! (Yes, they have been blasted into space, and survived no problem, thank you very much.)
So it’s about time we celebrated the tardigrade with their very own special 50-question quiz. Yes! It’s the ultimate tardigrade quiz. Read the statements below and say whether they are TRUE, FALSE, or OPINION:
1. Tardigrades are also known as moss piglets.
2. There are more than 1,100 species of Tardigrade.
3. Tardigrades have two arms and two legs.
4. Tardigrades make excellent pets.
5. They are a type of micro-animal.
6. They eat soil.
7. They have been found almost everywhere.
8. Tardigrades are awesome!
9. They were discovered in 1846 by van der Groot.
10. They can withstand extreme temperatures.
11. They will be the last species left alive on earth.
12. The word ‘tardigrade’ means ‘water bear’.
13. They can live in the vacuum of outer space.
14. They can survive dehydration and starvation.
15. Tardigrades are also known as water pigs.
16. Tardigrades are responsible for global warming.
17. Tardigrades do not have eyes.
18. They can withstand very high doses of radiation.
19. A person who studies tardigrades is a Tardist.
20. They can suspend their metabolism for years.
21. They cannot be seen under a normal microscope.
22. Tardigrades have unpleasant features.
23. They live in damp places, like mosses and soil.
24. A tardigrade is not able to change its basic shape.
25. They have telescopic mouths which spiral out.
26. They are among the most interesting animals.
27. They can live for up to two months.
28. Some people like to dress up as tardigrades.
29. Tardigrades are not invertebrates.
30. Tardigrades are harmless if you eat them.
31. Tardigrades cannot swim.
32. You have probably eaten a few on a fresh salad.
33. My cousin kind of looks like a tardigrade.
34. Tardigrades do not live on humans or animals.
35. They can survive being eaten by humans.
36. They’re called water bears due to how they move.
37. Like insects, they have six legs.
38. You’re probably around ten metres from one now.
39. They are like real life (miniature) gummy bears.
40. No tardigrade fossils have been found.
41. Tardigrades live in water.
42. They are about 0.02mm long when fully grown.
43. They are incredibly resilient.
44. They have two claws on the end of each leg.
45. Tardigrades always reproduce asexually.
46. Tardigrades are the best species on the planet.
47. Some tardigrades are cannibals.
48. Tardigrades are mostly brown.
49. Scientists do not use tardigrades for research.
50. Tardigrades are impossibly cute.
Find out more about tardigrades with BBC Earth Unplugged:
3. False. They have four pairs of legs.
6. False. They eat plant cells, algae, and other small invertebrates.
9. False. They were first discovered by a German zoologist called Goeze in 1777.
10. True. They can withstand temperatures between −272 °C (−458 °F) up to 151 °C (304 °F).
12. alse. Tardigrade means ‘slowly stepping’, from the Latin: tardus (‘slow’) + gradior (‘step, walk’)
15. False. They are also known as water bears.
17. False. They have very simple single-celled eyes.
19. False. They are known as Tardigradologists.
20. True. When their environment becomes untenable they enter a ‘tun’ state (below), where they can suspend their metabolism – even for ten years.
21. False. They can.
24. False. They do not have a stable three-dimensional form, which means they are able to alter their basic shape.
25. True. Once the mouth is extended sharp teeth are revealed.
27. False. They can live for up to two and a half years under normal conditions.
28. True. Search for ‘tardigrade costumes’.
29. False. They are invertebrates.
31. False. They can, since they live in water.
35. False. They cannot. Our digestive system would kill them.
37. False. They have eight legs.
40. False. There are tardigrade fossils dating from 530 million years ago.
42. False. They are usually 0.3-0.5mm long when fully grown.
44. False. There are usually four to eight claws on the end of each leg.
45. False. Some are male, some female, and some are asexual.
48. False. They are almost translucent.
49. False. Tardigrades are being used by scientists for research, including research into vaccines and space travel.
Sources and links to further reading: