You can freeze them, burn them, dry them out or even blast them into space, but humble tardigrades can survive it all.
As a demonstration of tardigrade power, a new experiment has shown that even locking the critters in a block of ice for three decades fails to deliver the ultimate knockout.
Japanese researchers successfully brought two tardigrades — often called “water bears” for their claws and head shape — back to life after being frozen for 30 years. A separate team of Japanese researchers with the 24th Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition discovered the eight-legged, microscopic pair of animals back in 1983 in a frozen sample of moss, which was kept below freezing to the present day.
Thirty years later, all it took was a good thaw and a nutrient-rich solution for the tardigrades to begin wiggling their legs and stretching their bodies, coming back to life after decades of stasis. Their recovery was slow, because they needed time to repair cellular damage — imagine how you would feel after spending 30 years frozen stiff.
While one died a little more than two weeks after resuscitation, the other tardigrade eventually went on to lay eggs that hatched, proving that tardigrades can not only come back to life, they also bring forth new life after a lengthy slumber. An egg found frozen alongside the two adults in 1983 hatched and went on to reproduce, as well. Researchers published their findings in the journal Cryobiology.
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