Image: via xenophilius
Tardigrades even defy Space.
Shoot them into Space or to the bottom of the deepest ocean, deprive them of air, water and food for a decade and sprinkle some radiation on top for good measure. These critters won’t die. Meet the water bear or tardigrade, world’s toughest animal.
Image: via cellar.org
Here’s why they’re called water bears.
Tardigrades are microscopic, water-dwelling invertebrates with eight legs that seem to have a bear-like appearance and gait and tend to cling to moss or lichen; characteristics that have given them the nicknames water bears or moss piglets. Although they breathe through their skin and therefore lack respiratory organs and a circulatory system, the anatomy of water bears is quite complex.
Image: Goldstein Lab
Like a wrinkled caterpillar.
The water bear’s body is covered by a chitinous layer that is regularly moulted, similar to insects. Females and males occur in most species and many have complicated courtship behaviour and mating rituals. Depending on where they live, water bears can be strongly pigmented from orange and bright red to olive green for those living on mosses and lichens – often with a density of up to 25,000 animals per liter!