In case you think I am finished with the dank, scary topic of tardigrades, think again. I am finding millions of images of them on the internet, millions of videos, songs about them, dances about them, artwork, jewellery, tshirts, and even. . . cartoons.
Yes. I was astonished and a little taken aback to find a whole episode of the British cartoon series Aquanauts to be devoted to Water Bears. (Not Water Bearers - that's Aquarius, another issue.) This animated tardigrade looks less like the electron-microscope-enhanced nightmares I have posted above, and more like the Pillsbury Doughboy.
Calling them water bears (or, even more euphemistically, moss piglets) plays down the horror of these creatures who cannot be killed by ice, flame, 100 years of dessication, or being shot out into space. If they're going to send them out into the cold reaches of the universe, why not send ALL of them?
Here, Tardy Grade lounges with his friends Retro Grade, Make The Grade, Centi Grade and Shady Grade. All look like nothing more than obese caterpillars.
This is what tardigrades look like. This. THIS. Stop looking away. Stop evading reality and face the truth! These are not "moss piglets" or "water bears". They are micro-horrors waiting to take over the world. Yes, once we've poisoned the environment and driven all the other animals and life forms extinct, these "things" will still be swarming around, because they can live anywhere, under any circumstances, at any temperature, and even without water or (probably) air. They don't even need genes, for God's sake, When they're a little short of DNA, they just "import" some from other species.
(I just got a horrible idea for a short story. Tardi-humans? No. No, I mustn't!)
So no matter how innocent and Disneylike these things may look here, don't be fooled. They are horrible. They have too many legs. (Anything with more than four legs is automatically off my wubby list.) They even make bad cartoon characters, lumbering and lumpish. In fact, they remind me a little bit of those termite queens seething with eggs, so fat they can't move, like something from My 600 Pound Life.
(Blogger's note. I here deleted a gif of a seething, undulating termite queen, immobilized by her own egg-laden weight. I couldn't even stand to look at it myself.)
I think some tidy unmarried British scientist from the 1800s must've named these monstrosities Moss Piglets. It's a slightly perverted name, the kind of name bestowed by someone who never got any, I mean never, and thus thought these things charming - if not captivating, if not provocative - as he peered at them through his incredibly crude microscope (the kind you could make with two mirrors and a toilet roll) all day long.
THIS is a moss piglet. A piglet made of moss.
This is a piglet. Is there any resemblance?
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