When we think about tough animals we think about great white sharks, grizzly bears, rhinos, or something along those lines, right? However, if you had to pick just one animal, what do you think the world's most indestructible species would be? Listen to this Question Your World radio report produced by the Science Museum of Virginia to find out.
That award goes to the mighty, the resilient and the really little creature called the Tardigrade, also more cutely known as the water bear. Hands down! While the notion of a bear may lead to a large animal that's not the case with this tiny creature. They grow to a whopping 0.03 inches, so best observed using a microscope.
Check out all the amazing things this creature is capable of doing. First of all they can survive without eating or drinking for 30 years! Tardigrades can also handle some crazy temperatures. For a short time they can survive in the extreme cold like 457F degrees below zero! Heat is no problem either, they can handle up to 302 degrees Fahrenheit.
Their distribution is pretty amazing too! They can be found on mountains, in the ocean, deserts, and even survive in the vacuum of space! Also, this little thing can handle some extreme pressures, like at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest place on Earth's oceans.
The accolades for this creatures’ resiliency just got even cooler thanks to a team of researchers who's recently published paper claims that these water bears could out-survive any species, another 10 billion years! This is based on the fact that cosmic experiences that can wipe out most life like asteroids, super nova, and large gamma ray bursts could wipe out some species on Earth from boiling away our oceans. Asteroids won't be able to do that, so this critter can withstand asteroid encounters. There simply are no options for stars beyond the sun to go supernova close enough to wipe out our oceans nor are there gamma ray bursts options near by either. In the event we did experience massive amounts of radiation, the water bear is equipped to handle those as well. However due to the lack of ocean-removing options in our immediate surrounding areas they're saying these creatures could live longer than anything else on Earth. Basically saying they'll be around as long as our sun is shining.
Even more exciting is considering the possibilities of more remarkable and more resilient species that exist out in the vastness of space. Could creatures similar to Earth’s Water Bear still be around on Mars or on some of our solar system's moons? Who knows, after all, exploration of our solar system has barely just gotten started. The tardigrade is a great reminder that when it comes to being tough, size may not matter.