This being has made scientist doubt about the actual definition of death.

Tardigrades are so simple creatures. No bigger than 1,7 millimeter long. With just a basic neural system, and without respiratory or vascular system at all (its breaths trough it’s skin) it just swims slowly in its habitat, maybe the sea, a lake, or even a pond in the forest, feeding from little animals, plants and fungus. But, when conditions turns bad, it has the ability to reduce its metabolism into levels that would kill almost any other living being (0,01% of normal), resist the most extreme conditions during decades or even hundreds of years and then awake as if nothing had happened.

This state is called Cryptobiosis. Here the tardigrade falls in a deep sleep, and involves itself into a protector layer. Scientists has proved, that in this state this little animal can resist temperatures of -272 C (absolute 0) and 150 C. It can be dried even loosing the 99% of its corporal water. It can also resist huge salt concentrations, and X-Ray amounts a thousand times bigger than the enough to kill a human been. Maybe the most incredible is that it can also survive for months without air.

But if we give it enough oxygen, it is proved that the tardigrade can be awaken 120 years after entering the Cryptobiosis state. Some scientist even suspect, that in a cryogenic state (frozen) it could also survive for thousands of years.

This animals has attracted the interest of science even for trying to replicate its abilities in other living tissues and animals. What if someday the exploration and colonization of space could be posible grace of a practically unknown creature of the forest?

version en espanol (spanish version)

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