Not so unlike after all…?

Although I’ve been hiding in my cave for the last month, I promise I haven’t gone away altogether.  Just been attending to duties and teaching the Masked Bandits to high-five – proof may be posted here at a later date.

Our Anthrozoology facebook page (because we’re cool) is often updated with interesting stories and links – one recent one was this:

"The Water Bear"

(Apologies for linking to the Daily Mail by the way, but credit where credit’s due and all that…and there are some great pictures on this article) 

This ‘water bear’ is so-called because its movement apparently resembles that of the rather larger, furrier mammal.  Water-bear is the ‘common name’ for tardigrades; there are more than 100 species of them and they’re microscopic, living their hidden lives in moss, lichen or liverwort and feeding on it using those sharp mouthparts.  Though they might move like bears, I think a better name would be ‘mini-manatee’, because manatees already live in water and because they look like this:

Manatee. Photo: Chris Muenza

They also live pretty quiet lives primarily eating sea grasses and algae – hence their nickname, ‘sea-cow’.  We seem to like to name animals after other animals, even when they’re not at all related – think ‘flying fox’, which is in fact (quite obviously, when you look at it) a bat.  As well as being linked to our slightly OCD habits of putting things in boxes, I think this cross-referenced naming is also related to the tendency of evolution to be highly repetitive – as I’ve said before, if it ain’t broke…

Tree Lungs: I would love to attribute this picture if I knew who drew it!

It’s very easy and very interesting to find novelty and uniqueness in others; but I’m often pleasantly surprised to be reminded that in the end, we’re all made of the same old stuff.


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