Tiny Marvelous Creatures

What makes a forest grow? A photographer and biologist put microscopic fungi, roots, and slime molds from Germany’s Black Forest under a scanning electron microscope—and found creatures like this astounding tardigrade (above) among the forest’s essential, and often overlooked, life forms.

This discovery in the moss on a tree trunk, magnified 2,400 times, marked a newfound species among the 1,300 known types of tardigrades, says photographer Oliver Meckes. “We always thought we knew a lot about the cycles of life and what happens to a tree when it falls and decays,” Meckes tells our NatGeo French edition colleague Marie-Amélie Carpio. “But what we learned with this assignment was how complex these processes are, and the myriad creatures involved!”

Would be a terrific pet.

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