Tardigrades, the tiny creatures also known as water bears, are a house favorite at Boing Boing. Able to survive in the most extreme conditions, from alcohol immersion to empty space, their resilience poses difficult scientific questions. Scientists believe they've found the answer, and have published their findings in Molecular Cell.
Wired's Matt Simon writes:
...researchers claim they’ve found an exclusively tardigradean protein that the creature produces, forming it into a glass bead. It’s in this state that the water bear can pull off such extreme feats of survival—which might be very convenient for human medicine one day.
The problem with the [earlier] trehalose theory, as it turned out, was that while many other organisms like nematode worms and brine shrimp use it to survive desiccation, not all water bear species produce the sugar under stress. Some of those other organisms produce enough trehalose to make up 20 percent of their body weight. The water bear? Only about 2 percent.
This doesn't explain why tardigrade plushies thrive on my couch. Read the rest
Looking for a nerdy and obscure gag gift for a science-minded friend? How about a plushie of the toughest organism on earth? There's a motherlode of tardigrade plushies on this Japanese site
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A two-inch replica of this delightful creature (previously) may now be printed out to keep forever.
The Tardigrade (also known as the Water Bear) can survive in extreme environments. For example, they can withstand temperatures from just above absolute zero to well above the boiling point of water, pressures about six times greater than those found in the deepest ocean trenches, ionizing radiation at doses hundreds of times higher than the lethal dose for a human, and the vacuum of outer space.
Get your hands on this interesting creature today. Designed in collaboration with Kostika Spaho. Read the rest
I concur with the sole comment on this sadly-ignored Reddit posting: "oh fuck yes."
Who's a chubby little water bear? Yes you are. Ooh, yes you are.
This moment of straight-up cuteness is brought to you by Bob Goldstein, who researches tardigrades at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
Tardigrades are, of course, microscopic animals that live in moss and the muddy sand on beaches. They can survive high temperatures, freezing, and crushing pressures by drying themselves up into a little hard ball, called a tun. Stick a tun in water and — no matter what horrible conditions it's dealt with — it will rehydrate and regenerate back into a tardigrade. Beyond that, though, we know shockingly little about these animals. Even their place on the evolutionary tree of life is up for debate. Among other work, Goldstein and his team are in the process of sequencing the tardigrade genome. It may well be the most adorable genome on Earth.
Dr. Goldstein's quick introduction to the tardigrade.
Thanks to Xeni for finding this in the BoingBoing Flickr pool! Read the rest
[Video Link] If Boing Boing had a mascot animal, it would probably be the tardigrade. As you aware, tardigrades (the scientific name is water bear) came to Earth from outer space.
Spaced Out is Vice's show about space on Earth. In the new episode, Motherboard travels to the Virginia wilderness to visit self proclaimed naturalist Mike Shaw on his hunt for the tardigrade, a "water bear" that can survive in situations that almost no other living organism can... and could have totally come from another planet.
Vice: First Animal to Survive in Space
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Celebrate what's left of Bear Wednesday by cooing over the cuteness embodied in this sweater, knitted with silhouettes of tardigrades. Also known as water bears, tardigrades are microscopic animals known for surviving some seriously extreme conditions and for being inexplicably cute for something that grows from a larva.
Great work, Chris Booth! Read the rest