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McInnes once defrosted a moss sample from a former experiment and found it contained live tardigrades. She deduced that the organisms had survived, frozen, for at least eight years. In 2016, a paper published in the journal Cryobiology made waves when it showed that a handful of tardigrades, frozen in another Antarctic moss sample back in 1983, had survived in this frigid state for 30 years until they were revived in 2014. It's thought that the tardigrade's talent for self-preservation comes down, in part, to its production of unique proteins that can lock fragile cell components into position.
This felt tardigrade is made of coral wool and is about five inches long. That's about 250 times larger than a live tardigrade!
My creatures are lovingly handcrafted from sheep's wool in a process called needle felting, which uses a special barbed needle to mesh fibers into felt. Because needle felted creatures can be delicate, this toy is not suitable for young children.
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.
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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.
Thanks to Xeni for finding this in the BoingBoing Flickr pool!
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.
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.