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119. Hardiest Animal on Earth

19 May

You think you are probably tough right? You probably could outlive a squirrel and outrun a tortoise. But could you survive the vacuum of space?

If you don’t know the answer, let me use science to tell you the answer. Science says NO. Fortunately something does exist which -can- survive in space. That monstrosity of a thing called a Tardigrade. Also known as a Water Bear, yes that is a right. A tiny little bear that can live in space.

How tiny though? The answer is 1mm long, barely visible. It lives everywhere, mountains, lakes, urban areas and the oceans of the world. All it needs to function, a meager film of water coating it. Unfortunately for these tiny bears space doesn’t tend to rain. So they go without. The thing is that they are freshwater animals, they shouldn’t be able to survive without water. So they cheat.

They do a bear-like thing. They hibernate. Though not like you normal sized bears, instead they perform a kind of super hibernation called anhydrobiosis. This causes it to shut down near every single process that it does, down to individual molecules. Only keeping the ‘bear minimum’ of processes required to keep it alive. So effective is this process that it allows it to both be dessicated (have all of its water removed) and also to be frozen. Also to survive in space. Have I mentioned that they can survive in space?

So yes, Tardigrades can survive in space, and no other animal we have found has managed the same feat. The TARDKISS program hopes to launch more Tardigrades into space and analyse how they survive at a molecular level. All of this so that we too may learn, how to survive in space. Until then though, the toughest, hardiest animal on Earth? A tiny bear that likes water. Technically it’s not a bear, which is good because bears can’t survive in space. They however, can.

Appearances can be deceiving.

Further Reading

 
2 Comments

Posted by on May 19, 2011 in Articles, Trivia

 

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2 responses to “119. Hardiest Animal on Earth

  1. JameRish

    June 29, 2012 at 19:02

    awesome animal but mostly scary.

     
  2. :)

    May 19, 2011 at 15:03

    I believe this had been a fact you delivered orally before. But that does not stop it being ‘most odd’. The bear minimum comment was just awful.

     

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