The "toughest animal on Earth" is tested in space.


They are a group of 1000 species barely 0.5mm long, they are related to arthropods and live in any environment where there is some humidity, but their most characteristic quality is their enormous resilience, they survive up to minus 200 centigrade and up to 150 degrees Celsius to prolonged dehydration (up to 10 years without water) or ionizing radiation. A member of this family would withstand even an asteroid impact. The Milnesium tradigradum. Only the death of the sun could end them. These small living beings of unparalleled resistance are also known as “water bears” because of the way they move. They are the most resistant living beings. Tardigrades are often found in mosses, where they eat plant cells or small invertebrates.

Also endearingly nicknamed moss piglets, water bears can come back to life decades after being dehydrated. Scientists have discovered that tardigrades have what almost seems like a superpower. When they dry out, they retract their head and all eight legs, crumple into a small ball, and enter a deep state of suspended animation that closely resembles death. They expel almost all the water from their body and their metabolism slows down to 0.01% of the normal rate. The positive is that if they are put back into water, even decades later, they can come back to life. 

All these properties, added to the fact that in 2007 they became the first animals to survive in space, made them the perfect candidates to be part of the Arch Mission Foundation’s lunar library. “Tardigrades are ideal because they are microscopic, multicellular, and one of the longest-lasting life forms on planet Earth,” Nova said. But while the little moss piglets may have survived the lunar crash, it’s highly unlikely they’ll be able to come back to life without being reintroduced to water.

Theoretically, they could be rescued and brought back to Earth to come back to life and study what effects being in lunar territory may have caused them, but until then, now you know that far away, on the Moon, there may be thousands of piglets of moss (dehydrated). The Arch Mission Foundation made a DVD archive of more than 30 million pages with the history of humanity visible through a microscope and with samples of human DNA.

It is like a kind of plan B in case some unexpected event ends life on our planet. 

The most interesting thing about this research is that a tardigrade protein protects human DNA from radiation. Experiments show that the resistance of this tiny invertebrate to X-rays can be transferred to human cell cultures. In addition, the researchers have managed to transfer this resistance to human cells. “X-ray tolerance is thought to be a secondary feature of the animals’ ability to adapt to intense extreme dehydration,” explains Takekazu Kunieda, a molecular biologist at the University of Tokyo and an author of the study. According to Kunieda, intense extreme dehydration wreaks havoc on the molecules of living things. It can even destroy DNA, just like X-rays. Ultimately, Kunieda and his collaborators discovered that a protein known as Dsup prevented radiation and desiccation from destroying the animal’s DNA. And they also found that human cells with certain cellular components of the tardigrade were able to suppress X-ray-induced damage by 40 percent. Makes it a Genetic Treasure.” DNA protection and repair is a fundamental feature of all cells and a central aspect of many human diseases, including cancer and ageing,” says Ingemar Jönsson, an evolutionary ecologist who studies tardigrades at Kristianstad University in Sweden.

Hence, the findings of the new article are of great interest to medicine, says Jönsson. They open the possibility of improving the stress resistance of human cells, which could one day benefit people undergoing radiotherapy. Among multiple ways that this resistant living being can adapt is to perpetuate life in humanity and consider space exploration as future plans to make life on other planets.  

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