I have found the weirdest most wonderful creature that the MZ has got to have But Not sure Frank will appreciate being given the assignment to capture some

Director Rackton smiled at his senior Capture man.

Frank felt a peculiar tightening of his stomach. Something about that smile told him He was about to get shafted. Big Time

Rackton's smile widened

"This is going to be a nice safe easy one for you Frank."

"Oh? What am I going after? A lion? Ape?"

"A Tardegrade!"

"A what?"

"Tardigrades, often called water bears or moss piglets, are near-microscopic animals with long, plump bodies and scrunched-up heads. They have eight legs, and hands with four to eight claws on each. While strangely cute, these tiny animals are almost indestructible and can even survive in outer space." Frank spluttered.

"I'm going after what some microscopic creature? That is so prolific a child could scoop one up from the local pond!" Rackton held onto his smile

"The Tardigrade is a phylum, a high-level scientific category of animal. (Humans belong in the Chordate phylum — animals with spinal cords.) There are over 1,000 known species within Tardigrade, according to the Monster Zoo Integrated Taxonomic Information System (MZITIS)

Frank scowled

"Mike seriously A tardegrade is a nothing. Hell its about as interesting as a ant The only amusing thing about it is that it looks like the hookah-smoking caterpillar from "Alice in Wonderland." Besides ranging in size from 0.05 millimeters to 1.2 mm (0.002 to 0.05 inches) long, long. They will need a very specialist environment just for any one to be able to see them." Rackton was unconcerned by Franks annoyance.

"As you know Water bears can live just about anywhere. They prefer to live in sediment at the bottom of a lake, on moist pieces of moss or other wet environments. They can survive a wide range of temperatures and situations. Being in a magnified Tank will not harm them but their cuteness is guaranteed to make them a popular exhibit."

Frank scowled, he guessed the science team had demanded that he be sent out to find the creature. Frank sussed they really wanted them for research purposes. Frank hated the very idea of collecting a creature just so some 'bald headed know it all' could earn himself a science grant. Frank mentally reviewed what he knew about Water Bears

Tardigrades were discovered by a German pastor, Johann August Ephraim Goeze, in 1773. He named them Tardigrada, which means "slow stepper." In 1776, Italian clergyman and biologist Lazzaro Spallanzani discovered that water bears survive extreme conditions by making a transformation.

In many conditions, they survive by going into an almost death-like state called cryptobiosis. They curl into a dehydrated ball, called a tun, by retracting their head and legs. If reintroduced to water, the tardigrade can come back to life in just a few hours.

While in cryptobiosis, tardigrades' metabolic activity gets as low as 0.01 percent of normal levels, and their organs are protected by a sugary gel called trehalose. They also seem to make a large amount of antioxidants, which may be another way to protect vital organs. Water bears also produce a protein that protects their DNA from radiation damage, according to research by the University of Tokyo.

In cold temperatures, they form into a special tun that prevents the growth of ice crystals.

They also have another defence for when they are in water. When the water they live in is low on oxygen, they will stretch out and allow their metabolic rate to reduce. In this state, their muscles absorb oxygen and water well enough that they can survive.

In 2016, scientists revived two tuns and an egg that had been in cryptobiosis for more than 30 years. The experiment was reported in the journal Cryobiology.

Reports from an experiment in 1948 claim that a tun over 120 years old had been revived, but the research has never been authenticated,

Diet

Tardigrades eat fluid to survive. They suck the juices from algae, lichens and moss.

Offspring

Tardigrades reproduce through sexual and asexual reproduction, depending on the species. They lay one to 30 eggs at a time. During sexual reproduction, the female will lay the eggs and the males will fertilize them. In asexual reproduction, the female will lay the eggs and then they will develop without fertilization.

Other facts

The water bear's mouth can telescope outward to reveal sharp teeth that are used to grab onto food.

They swim! Their multiple legs propel water bears forward to reach food.

Tardigrades must have at least a thin coating of water around their bodies to prevent turning into a tun.

Frank gave an inward groan as the Director turned the conversation around to how the creatures would be sourced. Frank inhaled. "Why did Rackton always insist on making every capture difficult. Why did he have to go all the way to the Antarctic when they could dredge up a 1000 of the little bears with a jam jar in the river ?

To be continued in a few days