A new tardigrade species – small, slow-moving invertebrate animal – was discovered in Finland’s Rouka National Park. It joins a rare elite of tardigrades that includes only four other known species and is characterized by a small number of legs and claws adapted for survival in soil and sand.
The rare complex species is known as Macrobiotus pseudohufelandi, and this newly discovered variety brings science to a total of five known species.
The latest discovery was named Macrobiotus naginae, RIGHT IFL Science.
The origin of the species name, identified in a character name from the “Harry Potter” series
The etymology behind the species name is quite unexpected. The species was named after the character Nagini from the “Harry Potter” book series, Lord Voldermort’s prized snake companion.
“A former cursed woman who transforms, ultimately and irreversibly, into a limbless beast, this fictional character provides a fitting name for the new species which in turn is characterized by reduced legs and claws,” they write authors in a study on the discovery.
The reduced claws of Macrobiotus naginae they make her well adapted to life in the dunes, as she can use them to slip between the grains of sand.
Tardigrades, survivors of the journey through the digestive system of snails
Although there are no sandworms to swallow tardigrades, there are snails Arianta arbustorum. Curiously, in a second study, the researchers were able to recover live tardigrades from the feces of a quarter of the snails they found. In this way, scientists have provided the first direct evidence that tardigrades can survive the journey through the digestive system of snails.
A third of the tardigrades found in the droppings proved to have survived the journey, being defecated while still alive. Some of those recovered from the snail droppings even went on to reproduce, proving once again that it takes a lot to kill a tardigrade.