Wednesday, April 7, 2010
The Tardigrade (or water bear) is a microscopic animal typically between 1.5 and .1mm. Despite their small size water bears are some of the most durable animals. They are able to live at temperatures as low as -273 degrees Celsius (thats 1 Kelvin almost absolute zero) and as high as 151 degrees Celsius (a 1000 times more radiation than humans can handle). Additionally water bears have survived 10 days in the space before coming back to earth and laying eggs hatching normal offspring making them the only known animals to have survived in a vacuum. Though impressive these adaptations do not seem to serve a practical purpose. There are no environments on earth that are found to be near absolute zero or comparable to space, so why do you think these adaptations evolved? More importantly how do you think these adaptations came about? What sort of conditions could lead to such extreme survival skills?