Tardigrades may hitchhike on snails … and then suffocate in their slime

Traveling by snail may not sound like the quickest way to get around, but it’s faster than walking… if you’re a tardigrade.

Eight-legged, endearingly tubby tardigrades — near-microscopic organisms that are also known as water bears or moss piglets — can hitch rides on land snails to journey farther than they could under their own power, new research finds. But while snail-surfing helped tardigrades disperse into new locations, a coating of the snails’ slimy mucus often proved fatal to tardigrade riders.

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