There’s a reason that people have given the tardigrade cute nicknames like “water bear” and “moss piglet.” If you’ve ever seen a tardigrade, odds are you thought it was cute as heck. But no matter how cute you think they are, one fact of biology remains: they poop. It’s up to you to decide whether their cuteness remains after seeing this video of a newly discovered species of tardigrade taking a green, rocket-like dump.
This week, scientists gave the world its first glimpse of a new species of tardigrade, Macrobiotus shonaicus sp. nov., which is profoundly un-cute to begin with. One of the co-authors on the PLoS One paper, published Wednesday, posted a video of the new tardigrade species pooping that is much more alarming than adorable.
Kazuharu Arakawa, Ph.D., an associate professor of environment and information studies at Keio University in Tokyo, posted the following video to his YouTube page. It’s hard not to notice just how much volume the metazoan excretes when it takes a dump. This little M. shonaicus leaves behind a turd that’s almost as big as its body.
All tardigrades typically eat vegetable matter, and as the name “moss-piglet” suggests, this is often the moss they live in. As you can see in the poop video, the excreted material comes out with relative ease after about 20 seconds. Anyone who follows poop news may know that most animals take 12 seconds, plus or minus seven, to poop, so this tardigrade is actually pretty close to that range. Despite essentially being little aliens, tardigrades actually have digestive systems similar to our own, complete with an esophagus, intestine, rectum, and anus.
Not all tardigrades poop the same way, though. Some only defecate when they molt, which they do around four to 12 times during an entire lifetime, and can span anywhere from three to 30 months.
Fortunately for us, M. shonaicus is not one of those species, and it shows off its poop in spectacular fashion, looking at once like an ugly lil pig and a Falcon Heavy rocket.