Tardigrade (Water Bear) The Indestructible Creature of the World

The tardigrade can survive 30 years without food - half of its lifetime.

: Dec. 29, 2018    : Milan Anshuman

The tiny tardigrade has been named the world’s most indestructible species after scientists discovered it is the only creature that will survive until the Sun dies. Although cockroaches are traditionally seen as Earth’s most resilient species, the eight-legged microbeasts are actually far hardier and will continue to thrive for around 10 billion years, come hell or high water, Oxford University has found.

tardigrade-the-indestructible-creature-of-the-world Image source: Google, see: Content Credit

Tardigrades, which are also known as space bears or moss piglets, are able to survive for up to 30 years without food or water and endure temperature extremes of up to 150 degrees celsius, the deep sea and the frozen vacuum of space.

Tardigrade is a phylum, a high-level scientific category of animal. (Humans belong in the Chordate phylum — animals with spinal cords.) There are over 1,000 known species within Tardigrade, according to Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).

Size

These creatures look like the hookah-smoking caterpillar from "Alice in Wonderland." They can range from 0.05 millimeters to 1.2 mm (0.002 to 0.05 inches) long, but they usually don't get any bigger than 1 mm (0.04 inches) long.

Habitat

Water bears can live just about anywhere. They prefer to live in sediment at the bottom of a lake, on moist pieces of moss or other wet environments. They can survive a wide range of temperatures and situations.

Diet

Tardigrades eat fluid to survive. They suck the juices from algae, lichens and moss. Some species are carnivores and even cannibals — they can prey on other tardigrades, according to the BBC.

Offspring

Tardigrades reproduce through sexual and asexual reproduction, depending on the species. They lay one to 30 eggs at a time. During sexual reproduction, the female will lay the eggs and the males will fertilize them. In asexual reproduction, the female will lay the eggs and then they will develop without fertilization.

Research

Researchers from Oxford and Harvard University, found that their astonishing abilities would protect them from calamities which would wipe out all life on Earth. In fact the only forces capable of harming tardigrades, such as a gigantic asteroid, an exploding star or a deadly gammar ray burst will not happen before our own Sun dies.

tardigrade-can-survive-till-the-sun-dies Image source: Google, see: Content Credit

Not only does it suggest that tardigrades will survive long after humans have died out, but it gives hope that life could exist on even the most barren and hostile planets.

“Life on this planet can continue long after humans are gone,” said Dr Rafael Alves Batista, of the Department of Physics at Oxford University.

“Tardigrades are as close to indestructible as it gets on Earth, but it is possible that there are other resilient species examples elsewhere in the universe. “In this context there is a real case for looking for life on Mars and in other areas of the solar system in general. If Tardigrades are earth's most resilient species, who knows what else is out there.”

tardigrade-on-mars Image source: Google, see: Content Credit

The water-dwelling micro animals can live for up to 60 years, and grow to a maximum size of 0.5mm. The only real threat to their existence would be from an apocalyptic event which would cause Earth’s oceans to boil away. But the scientists discovered that there are only a dozen known asteroids and dwarf planets with enough mass to cause the oceans to boil if they struck the Earth and none are on a collision course with our planet, Smaller space rocks would not harm tardigrades.

Professor Abraham Loeb, co-author and chair of the Astronomy department at Harvard University, said it proved that life could survive in even the harshest environments, such as beneath the surface of Mars, or on the moons of Europa and Enceladus.

Reference: The Telegraph, Live Science



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Milan Anshuman is a travel blogger at Roadway Star. He is passionate about travelling across entire India, specially in undiscovered places, apart from travelling he loves to shoot nature and wildlife beauties, waterfall, mountain series and beaches.

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