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Cette illustration montre bien les pattes du tardigrade. Elles intriguent les chercheurs qui tentent de savoir pourquoi le petit « ourson d’eau » a développé une technique de marque qui ressemble à celle d’insectes bien plus gros que lui. © SciePro, Adobe Stock

Scientists are intrigued by the Dortigrade march

Tortigrades are strange little creatures. They do so many wonderful things. This is no longer scoop. In these matters, one might seem trivial to us: walking. But it is not. Researchers say why.

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[EN VIDÉO] Dartigrates, superheroes of the micro world
With their plump bodies and small clawed feet, Dartigrade is one of the most beautiful creatures in the microcosm. But don’t be fooled by the looks: their bumpy bumps hide the stuff of real superheroes.

The tardigrades Very small creatures. They do not exceed millimeters. And they often live in hostile environments. They are very attractive to researchers. Selected individuals have been closely monitored by the International Space Station (ISS) Thomas Baskett. Among the questions that scientists have been asking about them since they were observed in the 18th centurye Century: Why nicknames “Water bears” Have developed the ability to walk.

In general, small and delicate animals tardigrades No legs The Rockefeller University researchers (United States) Give the example of roundworms, which slide their pasty shapes in all directions. But Dartigrates, they have eight legs that allow them to walk Sediment Sailors orPure water Or through the dunes Desert And under the floors.

So these researchers took a closer look at these funny little creatures. To find out if they are far from embarrassed. They do not stumble, but walk with confidence. Dartigrades walk a little like insects, but their size is about 500,000 times. They can walk or run. Moving up to more than half their body length in a second. Increasing their running speed without changing gait. Understand that they do not happen like that Horse It goes from a trot to a gallop.

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Common ancestor or evolutionary advantage?

Researchers imagine an existence to explain why tortoises evolved to walk like animals with larger bodies than themselves Common ancestor Between “Water bears” And flies or Ants. Also, some scientists like to classify tortoises into a kind of c-by group, in banarthropods we find both insects Clam fish Or even worms.

It may or may not be Common ancestor Dartigrates and Arthropods. And that way “Water bears” Moving gives them an evolutionary advantage. So this technique may have evolved independently in some and in some.

Whatever the truth, researchers are interested. Curious to know more about a nervous system that controls the most widespread occurrence in panarthropods or understands that this strategy is very interesting Money Develops in different contexts. They want to create in order to improve this work Robotic Soft and delicate. To design Robots Ability to compress effectively at small intervals or to form at microscopic levels.

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