New Species of Tardigrade Discovered on Allen Island off Maine

Posted on October 8, 2015

Echiniscoides Wyethi

Researchers from Unity College discovered a new species of tardigrade on Allen Island, a small island located off the coast of Maine. The microscopic animals are known for the resemblance to bears and for their ability to survive in conditions that would kill most animals.

The new species has been named Echiniscoides Wyethi. A greatly magnified image of the tardigrade's head is pictured above. The Portland Press Herald - which reported the discovery - says there are 1,100 species of tardigrades. The first species was discovered in 1873.

The new discovery was led by Dr. Emma Perry, associate professor of Marine Biology at Unity College. She told the Press Herald that tardigrades are "like a gummy bear with an extra set of legs." Dr. Perry has been conducting tardigrade research with her students. Information about studying tardigrades at Unity College can be found here.

Dr. William Miller, a tardigrade expert at Baker University in Kansas, assisted Dr. Perry in identified the new species. The research paper about Echiniscoides wyethi can be found here. It was published in the journal, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. The paper says the new species is different from other Echiniscoides by its "smooth cuticle, long flexible buccal tube, and the number of claws on the legs of the adult."

You can watch a good video about tardigrades (also known as water bears) here.

Photo: Unity College

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