also known as "water bears" (like in the post from a few days ago) or sometimes "moss piglets," they are little microorganisms with 6 (or 8?) legs that crawl around. they live pretty much EVERYWHERE ON EARTH--arctic, oceans, deserts, lakes, forests, you name it, but they especially like moist areas and need to have water surrounding them to be active. when i need to get some for class i just go find some moss. even if it's dried out or even frozen in the middle of winter, i just put it in some room temp water and these little guys reactivate.
these fat silly babies are masters of living in harsh conditions. they can suspend animation for like 10 years (possibly more!). this is called cryptobiosis and they basically shut down their own metabolism. it's like coming back from the dead. freezing, boiling, anoxia, radiation, pressures from a vacuum to much higher than anywhere on the surface of the earth (including the bottom of the ocean). but perhaps their coolest "trick" is dehydration.
GET THIS! THEY CAN LOSE UP TO 99% OF THEIR WATER. what the hell!!!!! if humans lose like 5% of our water we go CRAZY AND DIE.
the way they move is adorable. once you see one in person (well, with a microscope) you will be a water bear devotee. they just claw blindly around and wave their 8 stubby legs.
see? like a fat baby. an adorable, blind, fat baby. with 8 legs.
here is a good tardigrade intro site