May Cutest Creature Competition: Tardigrade Vs. Lion Mane Jellyfish


The Tardigrade aka Water Bear. Illustration by Katie Mooneyham.

Katie Mooneyham, Staff Writer

Welcome back to the cutest creature competition! Last time’s competition was the capybara versus the blunthead tree snake. Our winner was the capybara.  Big thank you to you all for voting. We can’t wait to see what you all find cute this time!

This month we’ll be running through some mud and water. We will learn about the lion mane jellyfish and water bears, also known as tardigrades.

To find tardigrades, you don’t need to go far. All you need to do is make the short journey from your house to your back yard, or any place where there is wet soil. It is surprisingly easy to find these little, round guys. Water bear is only a nickname. The microorganism’s scientific name is tardigrade, (pronounced tar-dee-grades), which means “slow steps.” They got the name “slow steps” because of how they move; they gradually reach out their eight limbs and appear to be slowly stepping, whether they are on a surface or moving through liquid.

Although they are cute and round, they are somewhat translucent and need a microscope to be seen. They may be minute, but that doesn’t mean they are weak, as these little guys are known to be the strongest animals ever in terms of survival. They can live in every habitat on the earth in temperatures ranging from 304° to -458°! Not only can they survive in any environment on Earth, these guys can even stand the vacuum of space.

When times are rough, water bears can do something called cryptobiosis. This is when they take a small water droplet and curl up into a ball, pulling their little arms into their bodies. Then, they dry up and wait until it is safe to unroll. If necessary, they stay in this state for years.

The water bear is surely tough, but is it the cutest? Let’s check out our other match-up, the lion mane jellyfish!

The size alone of the lion mane jellyfish would amaze you. Its tentacles can grow up to 120 feet in length, which is even longer than the largest mammal in the world, the blue whale.

Before you start getting your diving gear on to go looking for them you should know how cold the water would be since you can only find the lion mane jellyfish the northern Pacific Ocean. They live from Alaska to Washington and the Arctic, places known for being cold and icy. Usually they stay towards the surface of the water, only going to about 66 feet deep on average.

These animals have a bell-like head, which is how they got their name, as it is said to be shaped like a lion’s head. The tentacles are like the lion’s mane.

Each jellyfish has eight clusters of tentacles, but those clusters contain over 100 tentacles, bringing the total number of tentacles of a lion’s mane jellyfish to 1,200!

Now that you have learned about the tardigrade and the lion’s mane jellyfish, you decide. Which creature do you think is the cutest and most interesting? Vote below!

“Lion’s Mane Jellyfish.” Web. 21 April 2022.

Which one is cuter: The Tardigrade or The Lion Mane Jellyfish


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