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New paper in European Zoological Journal!

Tardigrades, microscopic creatures known for their incredible resilience, have intrigued scientists for years. They've been found in some of the most extreme environments on Earth, from the deep sea to the highest mountain peaks. But there's still much we don't know about these animals.

In a recent paper published in The European Zoological Journal, Matteo Vecchi described a new tardigrade species, Mesobiotus huecoensis, found in an ephemeral rock pool in New Mexico, USA. The new species takes its name from the Spanish, in which “hueco” means rock pool.

Photo: Matteo Vecchi. Mesobiotus huecoensis photographed under a phase contrast microscope.

Rock pools, often overlooked by casual observers, are miniature ecosystems teeming with life. They are home to a wide range of invertebrates and are known for their unique, often endemic, species. The new tardigrade species stands out from its relatives by its elongated claws, particularly on the fourth pair of legs. This feature is typically seen in freshwater tardigrades, suggesting an adaptation for better mobility within the substrate when the rock pool is filled with water. The discovery of Mesobiotus huecoensis also brought insights into the species' sperm morphology and mating behavior. This information adds to our growing knowledge of tardigrades' life cycles and reproductive strategies.

You can check out the full paper, here (open access).

Tardigrades continue to amaze us with their adaptability and ability to thrive in unexpected places. The discovery of a new species in a rock pool in New Mexico is a reminder of the hidden biodiversity. Next time you come across a rock pool, take a moment to appreciate the incredible, hidden world of tiny creatures living right under your nose!


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