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.
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!