This astonishing creature will outlive every species on Earth, scientists predict, and its mind-blowing abilities are why.
As we recently reported, scientists at the University of Oxford made the bold claim that the tardigrade, or water bear, would be the last species left on Earth. But what is it about this bizarre animal that makes it more likely to still be on Earth when we’ve been wiped out, as well as every other living thing that has evolved for millions of years to survive?
It’s because this little critter has some absolutely extraordinary characteristics. Tardigrades are almost microscopic at just a half a millimeter long when fully grown, but they can handle some of the most extreme conditions imaginable.
For example, they can handle temperatures as low as minus 272 egrees Celsius, or about as close to absolute zero as you can get. They can also withstand searing temperatures of 300 degree Fahrenheit. Theyve even been known to endure the vacuum of space, something no other animal can do and survive.
And it gets even more amazing. They’ve also endured pressure six times that of the deepest ocean trenches, radiation hundreds of times higher than a human can bear, and they can go an astonishing 30 years with eating or drinking.
Unlike us, they’ve been around since the dinosaurs, and survived the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs. Scientists have found tardigrade specimens in sediment that is 100 to 520 million years old.
“The world’s most indestructible species, the tardigrade, an eight-legged micro-animal, also known as the water bear, will survive until the Sun dies, according to a new Oxford University collaboration,” the university statement reads. “The new study published in Scientific Reports, has shown that the tiny creatures, will survive the risk of extinction from all astrophysical catastrophes, and be around for at least 10 billion years – far longer than the human race. Although much attention has been given to the cataclysmic impact that an astrophysical event would have on human life, very little has been published around what it would take to kill the tardigrade, and wipe out life on this planet.”