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?