World Beauties

Did you know that the “water bear” is considered an almost indestructible creature?

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There is a creature in all of creation that despite being so tiny is almost indestructible because it manages to survive such extreme temperatures in inhospitable conditions, I’m talking about the tardigrade (literally, “slow-stepping”), also known as “water bear”. .

This organism has a short body, divided into four segments and covered with a protective cuticle, from which eight clawed legs emerge. Its popular name “water bear” comes from the resemblance it has to the bear, both in its appearance and in its gait.

Tardigrades endure the most extreme conditions. “Some specimens were kept for eight days in a vacuum, then three days in helium at room temperature, and finally several hours at -272°C (-458°F). Despite everything, when they were placed back in normal thermal conditions, they revived, ”says the Encyclopædia Britannica. In addition, they can withstand a dose of X-rays hundreds of times stronger than that required to kill a man. And, at least in theory, they can survive in outer space for some time.

What is your secret?

The secret lies in its ability to enter a state of dormancy in which its metabolism drops to less than one-hundredth of normal, a virtually undetectable level. In order to reach this state, they retract their legs into the body, replace the lost water with a special sugar, and roll up into a wax-covered ball called a barrel. When they return to normal humidity conditions, they take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours to reactivate. In the laboratory, tardigrades that had been in a state of suspended animation for more than a hundred years have been revived.

There are hundreds of species, which reproduce through the eggs laid by the females: from one to thirty in each clutch. In just a few handfuls of sand or wet earth there can be tens of thousands of these tiny animals. A very favorable place to locate them is in the mosses on the roofs, but they can also be found in almost any humid environment, such as ice, streams, hot springs, lakes and seas, or even in domestic gardens.

The next time you look at a wet place, remember that “the water bear” is probably there, a super resistant creature, which speaks highly of whoever designed it.

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