Thursday, 16 March 2017

The meek shall inherit the earth


I do not understand how I have reached my age and never heard of Tardigrades up until a few days ago. Maybe it is because they are only half a millimetre long.

They have been around for 560 million years but were only discovered in 1773 - because they are half a millimetre long. I suppose that they were always mistaken for insects but they are animals.

I always thought that cockroaches and scorpions were pretty resilient, but these little animals are close to indestructable, if not immortal. They are found everywhere on the earth's surface and feed on mainly mosses and algae cells, but also single-celled invertebrates.  Here's some rather astounding facts:

You can dry them out to 3 percent of their body moisture content and they shut down for years, then when you rehydrate them, they come back to life and continue as normal. The longest measured period for this was 30 years, but it could possibly be limitless.

You can bring them down to almost absolute zero temperature and they behave the same, coming back to life after the thaw.

They can withstand any amount of radiation and show no signs of damage. The measured dosage for radiation to Tardigrades was about 20 times the lethal amount for any other life form on earth - including scorpions.

They cannot be drowned - they are found on the bottom of the oceans.

They can survive a vacuum indefinitely - they could colonise Mars and survive the trip to get there on the outside of the space craft.

Next time I look at a patch of moss I am going to get my magnifying glass out.

36 comments:

  1. I didn't know about these "water bears" either - I've googled for more information. Fortunately they are not harmful to humans; we've probably eaten them too!
    I like the sound of word Tardigrade, also in Italian, "Tardigrado" sounds nice; nice to say it in an affectionate way to a stubborn person...
    Greetings Maria x

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    1. I googled it too,and it says that the name is given by Italian and it means "the one who walks slowly"...

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    2. It was discovered by an Italian, and it has many pet names - 'moss piglet' is another.

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  2. Wow! interesting. Off to see if I can spot some.

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  3. Why haven't they studied them and found some way of getting our bodies to do all of those things ? ...... and, they're only half a millimetre long !!!! XXXX

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    1. You maybe need to grow another 6 legs.

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  4. Such knowledge could make us more humble--or not.

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  5. They are said to be time travellers..

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    1. Well they could easily have travelled here on a comet. They think that virus' have.

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    2. Ah - I never thought of that, mainly because I have only just heard of them.

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  6. Mr. Google says they are called "water bears" in Hebrew. First time for me too.

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  7. I fear nothing - except crazed people and parasites.

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  8. Very interesting, Professor Stephenson.

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    1. Nah - professorship is a one-way trip to obscurity on a stipend.

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  9. What makes them animals instead of insects? And how did you come across this topic?

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    1. No - Muscle structure. Radio. I almost had you confused there for a minute.

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    2. I am not sure what defines an animal in the kingdom, because even we have a mouth and arsehole, but I know the definition exists.

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  10. I'll give you this, Tom, there is no telling what we can expect when you release a new post! I can't help wondering what these little creatures would look like should Ridley Scott get his hands on their lifes advantages. Horrifying, I'm sure!! The Lord certainly used ALL possible options during those six days!!!

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    1. That isn't possible to say for sure. We may have seen nothing yet.

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  11. Would you and Cro please return to more pleasant postings about twisted trees or technical discussions about english vs. metric? I just know these creepy crawlies are going to invade my dreams tonight. :(

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    1. Just think of them as a miniature pigs with eight legs, circular mouths and no eyes. Sleep well.

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  12. In your photo, is that the front or the back?

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    1. Possibly the front, but I have never seen a rear veiw.

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  13. What happened to your second reply to me .... I was going to reply to it ?!!!! XXXX

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    1. I thought better of it. I didn't want to encourage you.

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  14. If you peer into the corner of the envelope there's a fiver to buy yourself a pint or two.
    Happy St Paddy's Day to you Tomas

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    1. Much appreciated. Does it have to be Guinness?

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  15. No a Jameson will do just as well .

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