PhD Daniel Stec from the Institute of Systematics and Evolution of Animals in Krakow discovered two new species of tardigrade. Those tiny organisms are interesting for scientists because of their great resistance to extreme environmental conditions. The scientist named the two newly discovered species after his colleague PhD Diego Fontaneto, and Robert Makłowicz.
Tardigrades can survive in a vacuum, at temperatures close to absolute zero, in conditions of high ionizing radiation, and even for decades without water. Once, they were even sent to the moon.
Tardigrades are dioecious, hermaphroditic or parthenogenetic, and about 1,300 species are currently known. They reproduce by laying eggs, the surface of which is often covered with appendages of various shapes.
A characteristic feature of both newly discovered species is “intriguingly ornamented” eggs. They are usually covered with cones, resembling paper Christmas tree decorations called “hedgehogs”, whereas the other has appendages that look like funny hats.
According to the press release related to the publication, Mesobiotus maklowiczi was named in honour of Robert Makłowicz – a historian, journalist, writer, traveller and culinary critic, “who lives in Krakow and sometimes does shopping at the market near the institute”.
The name of the second species, Mesobiotus diegoi, comes from the name of Diego Fontaneto, a scientist currently working at the Water Research Institute (IRSA) of the National Research Council of Italy (CNR) in Verbania Pallanza, Italy.
PhD Fontaneto is a specialist in the ecology and biogeography of meiofauna – very small animals associated with aquatic environments. He collaborates with PhD Daniel Stec from Krakow.