Water bears survive open space


51 Responses to “Water bears survive open space”

  1. Lucifer says:

    Despite denials from the justice department, this is definitive evidence of our administration engaging in waterbear torture.

  2. Nelson.C says:

    Has anyone sequenced tardigrade DNA and confirmed that they actually come from Earth? Perhaps they’re the answer to the Fermi paradox?

  3. Ugly Canuck says:

    A mystery? Are they still allowed?

  4. Duffong says:

    Hell, if I was built like a stuffed teddy bear with a tough lining I’d probably survive space too.

  5. Kieran O'Neill says:

    #14, #21: I’m sure if you bugged these guys enough, they’d add it to their product line …

  6. pauldrye says:

    Tardigrades have been partially sequenced and are related to arthropods and annelids, Nelson C.

    Even without this, their physical arrangement and interior structure is profoundly earthly: ventral nervous system and no spiral holoblastic cleavage just like the majority of animals, hemocoel and hemolymph developing the usual way, HOX genes, and on and on.

  7. philipacamaniac says:

    Shouldn’t “tiny eight-legged vertebrae” actually read “tiny eight-legged invertebrate”?

  8. jireva says:

    I know it’s probably just a typo, but, water bears are certainly not “tiny eight-legged vertebrae”. They’re invertebrates.

  9. midsentence says:

    Everyone had one of these when I was a kid, the face would light up when you squeezed it.

  10. hukes says:

    I think the first word in the third line should be “invertebrate”.

  11. Lucifer says:

    From my observation of the photograph, water bears seem more closely related to lowrider velour uphostery than to arthropods.

  12. jimh says:

    “It sure is cold in deep space, Yogi.”

  13. Nelson.C says:

    Paul @5: Undoubtably an accurate answer. I was hoping for something a little more playful, though.

  14. trimeta says:

    Tardigrades are basically unkillable. Seriously, we’re lucky they’re not omnivorous, because if they were they’d be goo-like in their global threat. (What would that be, bear-goo? Tardi-goo?)

  15. ulmedas says:

    I want a giant plush one!!! They look SOOooo cuddly.

  16. Jake0748 says:

    Really fascinating, it gives more credence to the Panspermia theory.

  17. Jack Daniel says:

    Great. Manatee Zerglings.

  18. sammich says:

    Trimeta@13 Tardigravy surely?

  19. Beryllium says:

    That looks like a *really* comfy couch. Does it have massaging action, as well?

  20. MarlboroTestMonkey7 says:

    I want a spaceship covered with them to visit Mars.

  21. David Pescovitz says:

    @6, 7, 9: Yes, thank you.

  22. mdh says:

    #15, exactly.

    There is one more data point to support the possibility of Panspermia.

  23. trueblue2 says:

    21: Ok, I’m not much of a stuffed animal fan, but that is adorable.

  24. macegr says:

    Ulmedas @ 14: This exists. Probably not for sale, but still inspiring: Plush tardigrade

  25. i_prefer_yeti says:

    I guess the cold vastness of open space isn’t as un-bear-able as once thought.

  26. satman says:

    That’s no water bear, that’s a moss piglet.

    Great website here:


    an excerpt:
    “the tardigrade [sometimes called water bears or, to my unending delight, moss piglets] is a microscopic organism, of arthropode-like appearance, but so physiologically unusual it has a phylum all its own (tardigarda). lolling about in its warm, mushy home, the tardigrade is kind of the microbiological equivalent to a damp couch potato slacker. invisible to the naked eye and measuring a scant couple hundred microns across, our little friend still packs a wollop when needed. with an impenetrable exoskeleton and powerklaws of doom,this tiny fella is not to be messed with.”

    I’ve been partial to these tiny critters since I received my first microscope for Xmas when I was 10.

    Amoebas, paramecium and tardigrades, oh my.

  27. anthony says:

    Looks like someone chewed a piece of gum and it took off part of their braces.

  28. Mojave says:

    wow…can’t believe it took until post #33 to welcome our new water bear, etc…..you’re slipping people. slipping!!

  29. starcadia says:

    I’m no astrobiologist, but judging from the picture I think Dr. Phil might be able to survive in the vacuum and radiation of space as well.

  30. starcadia says:

    @#39 JIMH: You said it, not me, but yeah, that would be scientifically hilarious.

  31. buddy66 says:

    Felt water bears, anyone?

  32. guy_jin says:

    @#8: I know exactly what you’re talking about. I had the worm-looking one.

    Also, we need to take panspermia from theory to reality; launch millions of the little boogers into deep space!

  33. Frank_in_Virginia says:

    Yes, but they like the trip?
    In Space No One Can Hear You Scream.

  34. John Reppion says:

    I wrote an article called “It’s Raining Them” for The End is Nigh #3 back in 2006 about Tardigrades and other extremophiles and the possibility that some of them might be planet hoppers.

    The magazine is still available at http://www.endisnigh.co.uk.

  35. sirk says:

    #1 threat to Americans in space??

    Water Bears!

    -Stephen Colbert, coming soon…

  36. heresiarch514 says:

    Awww, they’re so cute! Now I’m going to find out they live in feces or something, but until then, go waterbears!

  37. jaysonlorenzen says:

    Oh man, I do not see any @22 replies, is it just me then.

  38. Chocolatey Shatner says:

    Now they’ve been exposed to cosmic radiation. Mega Pi-pi, anyone?

    P.S. This episode is a thousand times better in Spanish.

  39. Jeff says:

    Panspermia? Would these things survive the crash, or the heat? I think our atmosphere keeps this planet pretty safe from wondering bits of life.

  40. hubbledeej says:

    “This allows them to survive vacuums, starvation, dessication and temperatures above 300 degrees Fahrenheit and below minus 240 degrees Fahrenheit.” Just like Sea Monkeys! I think we should call them Space Monkeys!

  41. OLAF9000 says:

    I for one welcome our new space/water bear overlords!

  42. Enoch_Root says:

    The real point here is not that tardigrades survive in open space. Both bacteria and lichen can do the same. The really impressive thing is that these are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that can do this.

    New Scientists has a better article about it here: http://space.newscientist.com/article/dn14690-water-bears-are-first-animal-to-survive-vacuum-of-space.html

  43. monstrinho_do_biscoito says:

    “…and i for one, welcome our new water bear overlords”

  44. bakermiller says:

    Thyey look like some charater from my comic….

    sorry>>.pdf file 4.5Mo
    did this 3 years ago. I had never actually SEEN them for real..


  45. santellana says:


  46. Ugly Canuck says:

    I would like to second Guy jin’s comment #27.
    Seed the cosmos with life!

  47. kitchenfirebug says:

    For #8 and #27, A glow worm?


  48. Glossolalia Black says:

    Water Bears are unbearably cute, and now that their space-hardiness has been proven, they are a natural shoo-in for some marketing genius to come up with some (macro-sized) stuffed ones for the kidlets touring NASA or something.

  49. byronba says:

    BUDDY66 @26:

    Nope, can’t say that I ever have… felt Water Bears that is!

  50. jimh says:

    @#25 STARCADIA: Yes, he certainly could. At least, I’d like to see your theory tested.

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