Researchers discover new species of water bears, named after former president Kalam

The new species, 'Batillipes Kalami', measures approximately 0.17 millimetres (mm) in length and 0.05 mm in width characterised by four pairs of legs.

Published: 19th September 2023 05:03 PM  |   Last Updated: 19th September 2023 05:03 PM   |  A+A-

This novel species was discovered by senior Prof. Dr S. Bijoy Nandan and Vishnudattan N.K, Research Scholar. (Photo | Express)

By Express News Service

KOCHI: As a remarkable tribute to India's 'Missile Man', Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, researchers from the Department of Marine Biology, Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) have discovered and named a new species of marine tardigrade after the former President of India.

This significant discovery is a testament to Dr. Kalam's legacy, his unwavering commitment to science and technology and his inspirational role in fostering scientific curiosity among young Indians.

Tardigrades, often referred to as water bears are microscopic water-dwelling animals well known for their extraordinary resilience and survival abilities in extreme environmental conditions. They are one of the toughest animals on earth which have survived all five mass extinctions, and also the first known animal to survive after exposure to outer space.

Ecologically they act as a pioneer species by inhabiting new developing environments which will thereby attract other invertebrates to colonize that space. This newly described species named as 'Batillipes Kalami' was found in the intertidal beach sediments of the Mandapam coast, proximal to the birthplace of Dr. Kalam.

The new species measures approximately 0.17 millimetres (mm) in length and 0.05 mm in width characterised by four pairs of legs. This novel species was discovered by Vishnudattan N.K, Research Scholar and senior Prof. Dr. S. Bijoy Nandan, Department of Marine Biology as a part of an extensive marine biodiversity survey conducted along the Tamil Nadu coast. This is the second time a marine tardigrade is described from the Indian waters and also the first time from the East Coast.

Earlier in 2021, the same research team discovered a marine tardigrade from the southwest coast and named as Stygarctus keralensis after the Kerala state. The new species belongs to the phylum Tardigrada, which is comprised of more than 1300 described species. Among them, only 17 per cent are marine species. Batillipes Kalami is the 37th species under the genus Batillipes. Few morphological variations among species and a limited number of differential characters make its taxonomy challenging and problematic.

This discovery has been published in Zootaxa journal, a peer-reviewed scientific mega journal for animal taxonomists, this month. “Even though the studies on tardigrades are increasing worldwide, this phylum remains unexplored and studies from India are in its evolving stage,” said Dr. Nandan.


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