Tardigrades: The Toughest Creature on Earth
One of the most extraordinary living being on Earth that can withstand unbearable condition like boiling, freezing, dehydration and exposure to radiation is “Tardigrade”. Most of the people believe that cockroaches would be the only thing that could survive an extreme nuclear war, but they are wrong. Tardigrade is an amazing creature that is capable of surviving a nuclear war. They are only living things that can survive near vacuum space for extended periods. Amazing thing is that this creature can lie dormant for 10-100 years and can come back to life with a drop of water. They are commonly known as “Water Bears”. Tardigrade is a Latin word which means ‘slow walker’. These small creatures survive in the most extreme environment on every corner of the earth. They can also be found in your backyard in moss, ferns and lichens and they feed on natural detritus in the undergrowth.
Cryptobiosis ProcessScientist have known Tardigrade since 1773 but it is still a mystery that how they manage the process of cryptobiosis (ability to completely halt metabolic process and loss 97%-99% of the total moisture), when they go in the state of cryptobiosis then they need water to reanimate. Recently a Tardigrade was found which was reanimated after almost 120 years although it simply moved and died when reanimated, but if we go to 10 years span these creatures reanimated successfully with no problems. Scientists believe that the reanimated behavior of this creature is due to the presence of cellular sugar called trehalose. These sugar cells preserve the membranes that form their bodies. Scientists are working on techniques that can preserve human eggs using same sugar cells “Trehalose”.
Survival Without OxygenTardigrades can live without oxygen for a long time and they can with stand temperature from well above boiling point to nearly absolute zero. They show that can survive temperature as low as 1 degree above absolute zero for several minutes. When it comes to nuclear war they can survive as high as 5000 grays or approximately 500,000 rads of ionizing radiation. Interestingly humans die around only 1000-2000 rads. Even though Tardigrades and very small in size but their bearing capabilities and reanimated features have made them one of the toughest creatures of the world. They can not only survive severe atmospheric conditions but these creatures are also capable of surviving a nuclear attack which is quiet amazing.