I might have lured you here under false pretenses. “Water Bears and Moss Piglets” sounds much cuter than Tardigrades, and you also might have expected them to look cuter than what is shown in the article. I swear they are cool if you give them a chance! I just found out about these little creatures yesterday. Yes, from pictures they look kind of ugly, like some parasite you REALLY hope never to get. BUT I also found this youtube video that gives a good summary of these guys and actually shows footage of them moving. After watching the video clip, I was easily swayed and decided they are, in fact, quite adorable.
The article explores experiments conducted on tardigrade eggs and goes into some background information on these super resilient microscopic animals. They thrive in aquatic environments but, if needed, they can enter a state of complete metabolic shutdown (anhydrobiosis) and remain that way for up to a decade. Once water returns, POOF, they come back to life again. Adult tardigrades have survived naked expose in space, near absolute zero temperatures, heat above 300 F, and intense radiation and pressure. Tardigrade eggs proved to be extremely resilient but only in their anhydrobiotic state. These experiments are exciting for the obvious implications of life in space. But, before you freak out about the extreme survival skills of this animal, I should tell you these “water bears” are non-parasitic and harmless. Enjoy!