Michalczyk, Lukasz Centre for Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation, School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom.
Last reviewed:June 2020
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- General appearance
- Locomotive organs
- Nervous system and sensory organs
- Digestive system
- Osmoregulatory system
- Body cavity cells
- Ecologic habitat preferences
- Trophic relationships
- Origin and phylogeny
- Evolutionary relationships within the phylum
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A phylum of microscopic, bilaterally symmetrical, eight-legged invertebrates. The members of the phylum Tardigrada are commonly called tardigrades or water bears (Fig. 1). These microscopic animals [which measure typically less than 1 mm (0.04 in.) in length] have a worldwide distribution and are found in the overwhelming majority of habitats. Tardigrades are known widely for their cryptobiotic abilities (that is, capabilities to achieve a state in which the metabolic rate of the organism is reduced to an imperceptible level). There are at least 100 described genera of tardigrades, containing approximately 1300 species. See also: Cryptobiosis
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