Scientists are fascinated by the walk of tardigrades

Tardigrades are strange little creatures. They do a lot of amazing things. This is no longer a scoop. Among these, one might seem trivial: the walk. However it is not. Researchers tell us why.

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[EN VIDÉO] Tardigrades, superheroes in the microscopic world
With their stocky bodies and small clawed claws, tardigrades are some of the best creatures in the microscopic world. But don’t be fooled by appearances: their plump bulges hide what true superheroes are.

The tardigrades Very small objects. Do not exceed a millimeter. They often live in hostile environments. They are very interesting to researchers. A few hand-picked individuals have joined the International Space Station (ISS) to be closely scrutinized Thomas Bisket. Among the questions that scientists have asked them since they first noticed it in the eighteenth centuryNS Century: why those who are nicknamed “water bears” They developed the ability to walk.

In general, animals are small and soft like tardigrades They have no legs. The Rockefeller University researchers (USA) Give an example of roundworms writhing in all directions to move their fungal forms. But tardigrades, they have eight legs that allow them to walk in sediment sailors orfresh water or through the sand dunes desert And under the floors.

So these researchers observed these funny little creatures up close. To know that they are far from embarrassing. They do not stumble, on the contrary, they have the confidence to walk. Tardigrades walk a bit like insects, but their size is about 500,000 times. They can walk or run. They move between the equivalent of half to twice their body length in one second. Increase their movement speed without changing gait. Understand that they don’t do it like a horse Which goes from trot to foe, for example.

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Common ancestor or evolutionary advantage?

To explain why tardigrades evolved to walk like animals with solid bodies much larger than their own bodies, researchers envision the existence of common ancestor between “water bears” and flies or ants. Moreover, some scientists would like to classify tardigrades into a kind of umbrella group, the pananthropopod group in which we find both insects and oysters Or even worms.

There can also be a lack of common ancestor between tardigrades and Arthropods. And this is the way “water bears” Simply moving gives them an evolutionary advantage. So this technique has evolved independently in some and others.

Whatever the truth, the researchers are excited. And I’m curious to learn more about the nervous system that controls gait at scale in pananthropods, or to understand what makes this strategy so interesting to me. Cash Evolve in different environments. They also intend to build on this work to advance robotic Soft and microscopic. for design robots Capable of efficiently compressing across small spaces or developing on a microscopic scale.

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Stan Shaw

<p class="sign">"Professional food nerd. Internet scholar. Typical bacon buff. Passionate creator."</p>

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