Eating Waterbears

Though they are invisible to our human eye, waterbears, (tardigrades) are plentiful in wet zones in and around soil. They eat moss and are sometimes called “moss piglets”. I read in Biology of the Springtails, that some varieties of springtails eat them, so this activity is part of the virtual reality experience for you, as a springtail. You can only eat them when they emerge above the water, and you need to get your mouth near them. Josh Rodenberg, the sound artist who is making the music, is currently working on making a satisfying popping sound for eating waterbears.

The pink blobs are springtail excrement, (AKA poop), which happens when you squat and squeeze your fists, but only after you have eaten. In the video, pooping is happening at the same time as eating waterbears, since the action is similar. Defining these as different is something we are still working on at the coding level.

Like most poop, springtail poop is food for other things – microorganisms and plants – so this is one of the superpowers of springtails that keeps the ecosystem healthy. More on this in a future post.

* Hopkin, Stephen P. Biology of the Springtails: (Insecta: Collembola). United Kingdom: OUP Oxford, 1997.