Story: Marine animals without backbones



This photo shows a tardigrade, also known as a water bear or moss piglet, mounted on a glass slide. It is one of around 90 species of tardigrade found in New Zealand, most of which live in freshwater, although a small number live in intertidal areas or on the sea-floor. These tiny animals, which have been around for 500 million years, do not get much bigger than a millimetre and are close relatives of ngaokeoke (peripatus). Tardigrades are very hardy, surviving in temperatures of up to 150 degrees Celsius and as cold as minus 200 degrees.

This specimen, labelled with its scientific name, Macrobiotus armatus, was collected by Dr Donald Horning Junior at Gillespies Beach, South Westland, on 28 March 1970.

Using this item

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Reference: AT.000030 (composite image)

Macrobiotus armatus Pilato & Binda, 1996, collected 28 March 1970, Gillespies Beach, New Zealand.

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How to cite this page:

Dennis Gordon and Maggy Wassilieff, 'Marine animals without backbones - Tiny sea animals', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 28 May 2020)

Story by Dennis Gordon and Maggy Wassilieff, published 12 Jun 2006