Tardigrades - Microscopic Water Bears
They may look cute but Tardigrades are one of the hardiest creatures on the planet. They are considered under a distinction of life as an extremophile, meaning they can survive in a hostile environment examples include the arctic, deserts, hydrothermal vents and more.
However Tardigrades have a gained a further fame of their own as a polyextremophile by being able to survive not only intense heat, but cold, radiation, desiccation and even the vacuum of space! It’s important to remember that we are considering extreme measured against human abilities, nevertheless these abilities make Tardigrades of great scientific interest.
What researchers believe allows Tardigrades these extreme abilities is their ability to effectively shutdown internally going into stasis and their remarkable repair mechanisms when in this state. Overall they can dehydrate themselves completely known as an anhydrobiotic state a form of Cryptobiosis and survive without a metabolism for months.
Why Tardigrades can do this might be due to how their environments have shaped them. Being less than 1mm in size exposes these organisms to a dynamic and harsh environment. Meaning they have been selected to be able to cope with sudden drastic changes such as loss of water, extreme changes in temperature, similar to the conditions of space. In fact these organisms have multiple forms of existence further refining their abilities to survive in extreme environments. Although eventually every organism needs to eat and when they do their preferred diet consists of algae perhaps filling stores to survive future conditions. Researchers have ongoing research into these creatures in Italy & NASA.
More about Tardigrades. More Microorganisms here & here. Logikblok