The tardigrades were first described by Johann August Ephraim Goeze in 1773. The name Tardigrada means "slow step" and was given by Lazzaro Spallanzani in 1777, precisely due to the slowness of this animal. It is also the toughest creature we know.
And now we have discovered a new species in a parking lot.
Kazuharu Arakawa, a researcher who studies the molecular biology of tardigrades at Keio University of Japan, discovered the new species in a small sample of moss. He had scraped the moss from his apartment parking lot in the city of Tsuruoka along the Sea of Japan.
Routinely, Arakawa is taking samples of moss that he finds around the city, but the portion of his parking lot turned out to be special. The tardigrades he found there could survive and reproduce in a laboratory environment, which is very rare for these creatures.
After sequencing the genome of the small animal, he realized that it did not coincide with any sequence of tardigrades previously found. The new species is part of a set of species known as hufelandi. Macrobiotus hufelandi was the first tardigraphic species ever discovered, back in 1834.