Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Water Bears Live in Space

Water Bears also known as Tardigrades are micro-organisms found in trees, moss, water and many other environments. They are classified as Extremophiles which means they thrive in physical or geochemical extreme conditions. Tardigrades can withstand heat over 120 degrees Celsius (240 F), freezing cold between 200-300 degrees below zero, x-rays, radiation, and they are the first animals to survive in space. Many scientists speculate that Tardigrades may be of extra-terrestrial origin transported to Earth by meteorite or asteroid. This is one of the reasons hypothesized why they can survive space travel.

Tardigrades were given the name water bears because they resemble bears with their round, caterpillar, bodies, tiny claws and multiple feet. Tardigrades have a nervous system, muscles, digestive system and brain, which makes them different than most insects. They’re covered in a dense exoskeleton which can harden and protect them when placed in an environment with little food or water. When this happens Tardigrades go into a state of cryptobiosis which is a form of suspended animation, where they can survive for over a hundred years.

To date science doesn’t know how Tardigrades evolve or what other species in the animal kingdom they’re related to. For more information watch the video below.

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