Tardigrades: Adorable Extremophiles

Tardigrades: Adorable Extremophiles

Hank explains why NASA and the European Space Agency are in love with tardigrades and how these extremophiles are helping us study the panspermia hypothesis.

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Meet the tardigrade, the toughest animal on Earth - Thomas Boothby

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Without water, a human can only survive for about 100 hours. But there’s a creature so resilient that it can go without it for decades. This 1-millimeter animal can survive both the hottest and coldest environments on earth, and can even withstand high levels of radiation. Thomas Boothby introduces us to the tardigrade, one of the toughest creatures on Earth.

Lesson by Thomas Boothby, animation by Boniato Studio.

First Animal to Survive in Space

Tardigrades or Water Bears are the only creatures that can survive the extreme conditions in the vacuum of outer space.

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Tiny Extremophiles Living in Rocks!

In freezing cold sand, a burning hot mine, or even inside solid rock – these extremophiles live anywhere that you wouldn’t want to live. What are they? How can they live in such extreme places?

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The Incredible Tardigrade

Tardigrades, also known as “water bears,” are microscopic animals capable of withstanding some of the most severe environmental conditions.Tardigrades are strangely adorable microscopic creatures that are capable of withstanding some of the worst that nature can throw at them. Classified as “extremophiles,” they can survive freezing, total dehydration, radiation, and even the vacuum of space. Earlier this year, scientists successfully revived a tardigrade that had been frozen solid for more than three decades—a new record for this durable species. Needless to say, scientists are understandably curious about tardigrades; research into these ancient creatures could tell us something about alien life on other planets, and how we might be able to leverage tardigrade biology in medicine and genetics.

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Meet The World's Toughest Animal... The INVINCIBLE Tardigrade!

Tardigrades or water bears are basically invincible. But how are they so tough?
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What Tardigrades Can Teach Us About Life in the Rainforest

Dr. Meg Lowman climbs hundreds of feet off the ground to reach ecosystems at the very top of the rainforest. Her research sheds new light on these extremely diverse communities of plants and animals, from sloths to butterflies to tiny tardigrades.

Experience intense, unique, and sometimes dangerous moments with scientists working in the field, as they explain first-hand the kinds of risks they take to find answers. There's so much more to being a scientist than being stuck in a lab. Watch every Wednesday for new episodes of Science in the Extremes.

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Tardigrade ‘Water Bear’ Dries to a Crisp and Then Comes Back to Life

The aquatic animal's ability to spring back to life from extreme conditions holds promise for new medical treatments.


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Table Of Contents
0:00 - Intro
0:25 - Instagram Origin Story
1:17 - Are Tardigrades the toughest animal?
2:25 - The toughest animal
3:02 - Most common organism
3:40 - How do microorganisms get genetic diversity?
4:36 - Do humans affect micro-evolution?
7:18 - One Last Fun Fact
8:34 - Links

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What Is A Water Bear?

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How To Find Water Bears

Let's do a fun science experiment! We're going to learn how to find Water Bears. Join me to learn about these awesome microscopic creatures!

Tardigrades, also known as Water Bears, are adorable microscopic animals. They look like caterpillars and walk like bears. There are over 1000 species and they can be found in almost any habitat. That's a lot of Tardigrades!

Water Bears are also known to be pretty tough. Surviving extreme heat, pressure, and radiation is a walk in the park for them. So they should be able to handle New York right? Well let’s find out!

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Tardigrade, The Animal That Can Survive In Space

Tardigrade, the animal that can survive in space. The tardigrade, also known as the water bear, is one of the most resilient animals ever discovered. They can survive in the vacuum of outer space, the deep sea, and even the highest mountains. In a recent study, scientists tested what would happen to the tardigrade if different apocalyptic scenarios were to occur. To see what, if anything, would spell the doom for this creature's existence. Watch the video to learn more.

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The Tardigrade , the world's toughest organism

Tardigrades, often called “water bears” because of their stumpy appearance, are water-dwelling, eight legged, segmented micro animals.
They can be found just about everywhere: mountaintops, the deep sea, tropical rain forests and the polar regions. They’re noted for being able to withstand
extreme conditions that would otherwise be fatal to nearly all other known life forms.
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Does This Strange Animal Have Alien DNA?

Tardigrades are awesome! They can survive in extreme weather and even breed in space, but what else do we know about these mysterious creatures?

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Rival Scientists Cast Doubt Upon Recent Discovery About Invincible Animals

A recent claim that tardigrades got a sixth of their DNA from microbes is starting to unravel.

How Does the Tiny Waterbear Survive in Outer Space?

“A special adaptation allows the tiny animal known as the tardigrade to curl up into a dry, lifeless ball and survive for decades.”

Learn More About Dr. Meg Lowman

“Dr. Margaret Lowman is currently Chief of Science and Sustainability at the California Academy of Sciences.”


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Tardigrades in space on NatGeoTV

UNC Chanel Hill laboratory discusses tardigrades on the National Geographic channel, with a film of tun formation by Daiki Horikawa.

Water Bear (Tardigrade) in darkfield and polarized light. 100-350X

Tardigrades (commonly known as waterbears or moss piglets) are small, water-dwelling, segmented animals with eight legs.

Tardigrades are notable for being one of the most complex of all known polyextremophiles. (An extremophile is an organism that can thrive in a physically or geochemically extreme condition that would be detrimental to most life on Earth) For example, Tardigrades can withstand temperatures from just above absolute zero to well above the boiling point of water, as well as pressures greater than any found in the deepest ocean trenches, along with solar radiation, gamma radiation, ionic radiation— at doses hundreds of times higher than would kill a person and have lived through the vacuum of outer space. They can go without food or water for nearly 120 years, drying out to the point where they are 3% or less water, only to rehydrate, forage, and reproduce.

Usually, tardigrades are 1 millimetre (0.039 in) long when they are fully grown. They are short and plump with 4 pairs of legs, each with 4-8 claws also known as disks. The animals are prevalent in moss and lichen and, when collected, may be viewed under a very low-power microscope, making them accessible to the student or amateur scientist as well as the professional.

Tardigrades form the phylum Tardigrada, part of the superphylum Ecdysozoa. It is an ancient group, with fossils dating from 530 million years ago, in the Cambrian period. The first tardigrades were discovered by Johann August Ephraim Goeze in 1773. Since 1778, over 500 new tardigrade species have been found. (Wiki)

Here's the real poop on tardigrades | Science News

The tardigrade species newly named Macrobiotus shonaicus (after the Shonai region of Japan where it was discovered) has a talent for growing under lab conditions. That allowed genome biologist and tardigrade fan Kazuharu Arakawa to capture water bear home movies. Here, M. shonaicus trundles along with its almost bearlike gait. In an event rarely shown on film, it excretes waste almost its body size.

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Credit: Kazuharu Arakawa

Waterbears: From Treetops to Your Backyard | California Academy of Sciences

Meg Lowman and Rebecca Trip talk about how Tardigrades, or waterbears, are amazing extremophiles that can live everywhere! Studying Tardigrades also offers disabled students an invaluable opportunity to explore field biology.

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Waterbear | A Documentary about Tardigrades

A short documentary that I made about waterbear a few years back.

I have full copyright of the footage. Please contact me directly if you would like to use my footage. Thank you.

Five Facts About Water Bears

Meet the tough, tubby tardigrades also known as ‘water bears’ or ‘moss piglets’. These nicknames may not strike fear into the hearts of many but these little plump, eight-legged micro-animals have some truly special abilities that makes them worthy contenders for the world’s hardiest animal.

Fact #01 – Their scientific name Tardigrada literally means “slow stepper”

They were first discovered by the German zoologist Johann August Ephraim Goeze in 1773 who initially dubbed them Kleiner Wasserbär, meaning little water bear” based on the endearing way they trundle across their chosen habitat. Three years later the term Tardigrada (meaning slow stepper) was first coined by the Italian biologist Lazzaro Spallanzani.

Fact #02 – They have survived all five mass extinction events

Yes, they have survived the Ordovician–Silurian extinction events, the Late Devonian extinction, the Permian–Triassic extinction event, the Triassic–Jurassic extinction event and the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event.

Tardigrades now form a group of 1,150 species which belong to the phylum Tardigrada, part of the superphylum Ecdysozoa. It is an ancient group, with fossils dating from 530 million years ago, in the Cambrian period when the first complex animals were just evolving. Dinosaurs, in comparison, first appeared about 230 million years ago, making T. rex and co. the relative new kids on the block.

Fact #03 – They can survive temperatures above 150°C and below -200°C

In the 1920s, a Benedictine friar named Gilbert Franz Rahm brought tardigrades back to life after heating them to 151 °C for 15 minutes. The most heat-tolerant organisms known are bacteria that live around the edges of hydrothermal vents in the deep sea. They can still grow at 122 °C. If Rahm is to be believed, tardigrades can survive even higher temperatures.

Rahm also tested them in the cold. He immersed them in liquid air at -200 °C for 21 months, in liquid nitrogen at -253 °C for 26 hours, and in liquid helium at -272 °C for 8 hours. Afterwards the tardigrades sprang back to life as soon as they came into contact with water. To put that into perspective, the lowest temperature ever recorded on Earth was a balmy -89.2 °C in central Antarctica in 1983. The tardigrades coped with a profound chill that at which atoms come to a virtual standstill.

Fact #04 – They can reach a state of suspended animation by dropping metabolism, expelling water and forming a ‘tun’

What makes tardigrades so tough? One word: cryptobiosis. Translated literally, cryptobiosis means “hidden life,” and that’s exactly what it is: a form of suspended animation in which organisms can go on living even as they look dead. To reach this state they reach an advanced state of desiccation by dropping their water content can drop to 1-3 percent of normal and curling into a dehydrated ball, called a tun, by retracting their head and legs. While in cryptobiosis, tardigrades' metabolic activity gets as low as 0.01 percent of normal levels, and their organs are protected by a sugary gel called trehalose. This sugar forms a glass-like state inside their cells that stabilises key components, such as proteins and membranes, which would otherwise be destroyed. New research has found that some tardigrades use a class of proteins called intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) which also form protective glass-like solids.

Fact #005 – In September 2007, researcher launched two species of dehydrated tardigrades into space. After 10 days in orbit, most of the specimens in one species were revived within 30 minutes of being rehydrated.

Back in September of 2007, researchers from Sweden’s Kristianstad University launched two species of dehydrated tardigrades aboard ESA’s FOTON-M3, an unmanned mission that carried varieties of experimental payload. After ten days of orbiting, the FOTON-M3 satellite made its way safely to the Earth. The scientists found that majority of the specimens in one species (around 68 percent) were successfully revived after just 30 minutes of being rehydrated. These specimens even went on to hatch their eggs.

Water bear don’t care.

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