Today’s VSL:Science link calls attention to tardigrades (aka “water bears,” for reasons apparent in the YouTube video above), which are barely visible invertebrates that live on mosses and lichens — and through virtually anything.
They are virtually indestructible. In recent years, scientists have subjected tardigrades (which are also known as water bears) to extreme temperatures, ranging from 155ºC to ?200ºC. They’ve deprived the creatures of food and water for years at a time and zapped them with incredibly toxic levels of radiation. But, just like a Timex watch, water bears keep on ticking. Earlier this month, scientists reported that a colony of tardigrades had even managed to withstand the vacuum of outer space. (The European Space Agency put the creatures on a satellite and sent them into orbit for ten days.) If our life form manages to destroy the earth as we know it, maybe we can take some solace in knowing which other species will survive us.