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Growth to the adult size therefore occurs by enlargement of the individual cells (hypertrophy), rather than by cell division. Most tardigrades are phytophagous (plant eaters) or bacteriophagous (bacteria eaters), but some are carnivorous to the extent of eating other smaller species of tardigrades (e.g., Milnesium tardigradum).
Tardigrades share morphological characteristics with many species that differ largely by class.
Tardigrades, in the case of Echiniscoides wyethi, Tardigrades have barrel-shaped bodies with four pairs of stubby legs.
Most range from 0.3 to 0.5 mm (0.012 to 0.020 in) in length, although the largest species may reach 1.2 mm (0.047 in).
The body consists of a head, three body segments with a pair of legs each, and a caudal segment with a fourth pair of legs.
The legs are without joints, while the feet have four to eight claws each.
The most convenient place to find tardigrades is on lichens and mosses.
The brain is attached to a large ganglion below the esophagus, from which a double ventral nerve cord runs the length of the body.
The name Tardigradum means "slow walker" and was given by Lazzaro Spallanzani in 1776.
The name "water bear" comes from the way they walk, reminiscent of a bear's gait.
They were first discovered by the German zoologist Johann August Ephraim Goeze in 1773.
The name Tardigrada (meaning "slow stepper") was given three years later by the Italian biologist Lazzaro Spallanzani.