Unstoppable

8 reasons tardigrades are the weirdest, most resilient animals

Megumu Tsujimoto (NIPR)

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Here are 8 reasons why tardigrades are the weirdest, most resilient animals ever studied.

J. Nirody, et al. BIORXIV (2021)

8. Tardigrades move like insects

Researchers from the U.S. and U.K. found tardigrades move their limbs in a way similar to insects, despite being many times smaller and living in different environments.

7. Tardigrades can live almost anywhere

Most tardigrades live in or near freshwater, but they’ve also been found in ocean, mountain, and forest habitats, according to the Marine Biological Laboratory.

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6. Tardigrades can survive frozen for 30 years

Scientists from Japan found two tardigrades and an egg frozen in a more than 30-year-old moss sample from Antarctica.

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5. Tardigrades can enter suspended animation

The key to tardigrades’ resilience is their ability to enter a low metabolism state and curl into a ball called a tun.

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4. Tardigrade DNA is protected from radiation

Scientists from the University of Tokyo found a protein in tardigrades that protects their DNA from radiation damage.

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3. Even Tardigrade poop is fascinating

The fact that tardigrades even have a complete digestive system is noteworthy, given how alien they seem otherwise.

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2. Tardigrades may one day rule the Earth

Researchers from Oxford University say tardigrades could survive every conceivable apocalyptic scenario until the end of the Earth itself.

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1. Tardigrades could be living on the Moon right now

In 2020, an Israeli spacecraft crashed on the Moon, spilling its cargo. Included in that cargo were thousands of dehydrated tardigrades.

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NASA

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