What is a Tardigrade? - The Fact Site
Everyone knows about the range of the very impressive species we have here on Earth, all capable of out-living us weak skinned humans. Take for example, the cockroach – capable of surviving a nuclear explosion. But have you ever heard of the micro-wonder that is the Tardigrade?
Well here we’re going to discover the Tardigrade, finding out how it survives blistering heat, out-of-this-world pressure and many more awe-inspiring conditions.
What is a Tardigrade I hear you say? Some believe they could be extra-terrestrial simply due to their immense and strange attributes. They are eight-legged beings that measure in with an average of 1mm with the smallest critters a measly 0.05mm and the largest 1.2mm.
Discovered in 1773 by Johann August Ephraim Goeze, they can also be referred to as moss piglets. Unbelievably, they are capable of surviving almost every situation, including radiation and the pressure of space for numerous days.
When it comes to climate requirements they have a huge range of livable temperatures from -328°F to 300°F, or -200°C to 149°C.
Where do you find these juggernauts of our wonderful planet I hear you ask? Well, the tardigrade live in a plethora of environments from rain forests to mountain tops, but prefer the briny deep, living on lake bottoms hidden among mossy lumps. The name “Tardigrade” was given to this animal in 1776 and it actually derives from the Italian for Slow Stepper, or Tardigrada.
As we have mentioned, the Tardigrade is quite the resilient being, utilizing its cryptobiosis state, which is when the creature is in almost death-like state or suspended animation, until they reach preferable conditions and they re-emerge as they’re usual selves.
This suspended animation is impressive enough, but can you believe they’re capable of surviving supernovas? Not to mention, they can fight off the need to eat for an astounding 30 years through this process!
According to certain research, these wonderful creatures have a downside though – they can turn to cannibalizing their fellow Tardigrades if they need to, but usually live on algae and moss.
Over a period of 500 million years, these mini miracles have outlived five mass extinctions, and can in some cases essentially clone themselves by growing embryos inside eggs that have had zero fertilization from any other host other than themselves.
So there we have it! The Tardigrade, or water bear as they’re also sometimes called, is quite the impressive creature. They’re definitely not the prettiest thing in the world, nor the largest or fastest, but they are unbelievably interesting. I mean, what other creature capable of withstanding a gamma-ray burst?