How To Use The Key

For Best Search Results

Tardigrades, also known as water bears, are fascinating microorganisms that have captivated scientists for generations. Our website is dedicated to providing you with comprehensive information about these tiny but resilient creatures. Use the filter feature to access tardigrade profiles based on your preferred criteria.

How to Use the Filter Feature

Once inside the Tardigrade Key area, the left side of the page, you will find a list of questions and answers related to Tardigrades and their scientific aspects.

Follow these steps to discover specific tardigrade profiles

Step 1: Select Choices of Characteristics (Filters)

Click on any answer that interests you. The filter feature will automatically apply relevant criteria to your search. The key starts with the following filter and 2 choices: Lateral cirri A and select “Absent” or “Present.” and then more filters appear and disappear as you go along with choices in the filters. You will notice a small question mark icon next to certain filters. Click the icon to learn more about what each filter represents.

Step 2: View the Tardigrade Profiles

Once you’ve selected your choices, the Tardigrade profiles that match the chosen criteria will automatically re-populate the profile listing. These profiles contain detailed information about different tardigrade species and their unique characteristics.

Step 3: Refine Your Search

If you want to explore more aspects of tardigrades, simply choose another question or answer from the list on the tardigrade key page. The website will instantly update the displayed profiles based on your new filter criteria.

 
Discover More

Use the search bar to find specific topics or keywords related to tardigrades.


Exploring Tardigrade Profiles

Each Tardigrade profile offers an in-depth look at a particular species. Click on a profile to view detailed information, scientific research, and captivating images.

Share Your Experience

We value your feedback! Let us know about your experience using the website and any suggestions for improvement. Contact us through the Contact page .

Start Your Journey with Tardigrades Now!

Begin your exploration of these microscopic heroes today. Click on any filter to dive into the world of Tardigrades and discover their remarkable scientific aspects.

Claw Symmetry Relative To Median Plane Of Leg?

Image from Bingemer J, Hohberg K. 2017. An illustrated identification key to the eutardigrade species (Tardigrada, Eutardigrada) presently known from European soils. Soil Organisms. 89 (3): 127-149.

Stylet Support Insertion Point As Percentage Of Buccal Tube Length

Stylet support insertion point = ss divided by Buccal tube length, as %. Note anterior measurements begin at anterior margin of stylet sheaths, ss is centred where stylet supports reach buccal tube (this requires a good dorsal or lateral view for proper measurement)


Image from Tumanov DV. 2006. Five new species of the genus Milnesium (Tardigrada, Eutardigrada, Milnesiidae). Zootaxa. 1122: 1-23.

Buccal Tube Long, Mouth At Anterior Of A Protrusible Snout

Images from Pilato G, Binda MG. 2010. Definition of families, subfamilies, genera, and subgenera of the Eutardigrada, and keys to their identification. Zootaxa. 2404: 1-54.

Pharyngeal Tube With Spiral Reinforcement

Images from Pilato G, Binda MG. 2010. Definition of families, subfamilies, genera, and subgenera of the Eutardigrada, and keys to their identification. Zootaxa. 2404: 1-54.

Peribuccal papillae?

Note: in a tardigrade with snout extended, the flex of the pharyngeal tube may not be obvious.


Images from Pilato G, Binda MG. 2010. Definition of families, subfamilies, genera, and subgenera of the Eutardigrada, and keys to their identification. Zootaxa. 2404: 1-54.

(Lateral) cephalic papillae, peribuccal papillae, Milnesiidae - type claws, exceptionally wide (and usually short) buccal tube?

Cephalic image modified from Nelson DR, Guidetti R, Rebecchi L. 2009. Tardigrada. Ch. 14 in Ecology and Classification of North American Freshwater Invertebrates, Thorp JH, Covich AP (eds.), 3rd ed.

Claw image modified from Pilato G, Binda MG. 2010. Definition of families, subfamilies, genera, and subgenera of the Eutardigrada, and keys to their identification. Zootaxa. 2404: 1-54.

Pharyngeal tube flexible?

Note: in a tardigrade with snout extended, the flex of the pharyngeal tube may not be obvious.


Images from Pilato G, Binda MG. 2010. Definition of families, subfamilies, genera, and subgenera of the Eutardigrada, and keys to their identification. Zootaxa. 2404: 1-54.

Serrated / dentate cuff / collar on legs IV

Left image from Kristensen RM. 1987. Generic revision of the Echiniscidae (Heterotardigrada), with a discussion of the origin of the family. pp. 261-335 in Bertolani R (ed). Biology of Tardigrades: Selected symposia and monographs.

Right Image from Richters F. 1926. Tardigrada. in Krumbach T. 1927. Handbuch der Zoologie, 3rd band, Walter de Gruyter & Co.

Leg sensory structures

Typically papilla on leg IV (se4 in image) and variable shape on leg I


Image from Kristensen RM. 1987. Generic revision of the Echiniscidae (Heterotardigrada), with a discussion of the origin of the family. pp. 261-335 in Bertolani R (ed). Biology of Tardigrades: Selected symposia and monographs.

Trunk appendages

Appendages (after Cirrus A) labeled according to plate … B (Scapular plate), C (First segmental plate), D (Second segmental plate), E (terminal plate). “B” is lateral, “Bd” is dorsal

Be careful! There can be great variability within a population, with individuals (especially juveniles) lacking some appendages. When in doubt, choose “Unclear” to ignore this character!


Left image from Ramazzotti G, Maucci W. 1983. Il phylum Tardigrada(III edizione riveduta e aggiornata). English translation by C. W. Beasley, 1995. Memorie dell’ Istituto Italiano di Idrobiologia 41: 1-1012.

Right image cropped from Kristensen RM. 1987. Generic revision of the Echiniscidae (Heterotardigrada), with a discussion of the origin of the family. pp. 261-335 in Bertolani R (ed). Biology of Tardigrades: Selected symposia and monographs.

Cirrus A form

Images modified from Kristensen RM. 1987. Generic revision of the Echiniscidae (Heterotardigrada), with a discussion of the origin of the family. pp. 261-335 in Bertolani R (ed). Biology of Tardigrades: Selected symposia and monographs.

Lower image (Mopsechiniscus) modified from du Bois-Reymond Marcus E. 1944. Sobre tardigrados brasileiros. Communicaciones Zoologicas del Museo de Historia Natural de Montevideo. 1(13): 1-19 plus plates.

Terminal / caudal plate with two notches?

Images modified from Kristensen RM. 1987. Generic revision of the Echiniscidae (Heterotardigrada), with a discussion of the origin of the family. pp. 261-335 in Bertolani R (ed). Biology of Tardigrades: Selected symposia and monographs.

First image (Echiniscus) modified from Richters F. 1926. Tardigrada. in Krumbach T. 1927. Handbuch der Zoologie, 3rd band, Walter de Gruyter & Co.

Inner & outer buccal cirri present

Image modified from Nelson DR, Guidetti R, Rebecchi L. 2009. Tardigrada. Ch. 14 in Ecology and Classification of North American Freshwater Invertebrates, Thorp JH, Covich AP (eds.), 3rd ed.

Pseudosegmental plate between last medial plate & terminal plate?

Note on 2nd image, what you see before the terminal plate is either no plate, or a full-width medial plate; don’t confuse the latter with a pseudosegmental plate!
Also, sometimes the pseudosegmental plate is paired, like segmental plates II & III. It’s still pseudosegmental!

Images from Clifford HF. 1991. Aquatic invertebrates of Alberta. University of Alberta Press, Alberta, Canada.

Segmental plates larger than intersegmental?

Image modified from Lindahl & Balser (1999), http://www.iwu.edu/~tardisdp/Keypage35.html

Any Paired Plates?

Images from Kristensen RM. 1987. Generic revision of the Echiniscidae (Heterotardigrada), with a discussion of the origin of the family. pp. 261-335