Scientists have been studying the tardigrade (water bear or moss piglet) for some time now, and they are still learning fascinating things about these little guys. If you don't know what a tardigrade is, it is an eight-legged (like Sleipnir) micro-animal that has been found all over the world. It's one of the most durable and adorable critters known to man.
By durable, I mean they can survive in some pretty extreme conditions...temperatures from -458°F to 300°F, pressures about six times greater than those found in the deepest ocean trenches, ionizing radiation at doses hundreds of times higher than the lethal dose for a human, the vacuum of outer space, the absence of food and water for more than 10 years (and basically come back from the dead), and have been around for over 500 million years.
They are not exactly "adapted" to extreme environments, scientists have recently discovered. Instead, it appears that they "steal" DNA. In one tardigrade, 17.5% of its DNA was of foreign origin. It is believed that horizontal gene transfer may explain their unique indestructible nature. (Kinda reminds me of Sylar, from Heroes.) This is not entirely unheard of, as the lysia chlorotica literally consumes a steady diet of other organisms to acquire the ability of photosynthesis. (The lysia chlorotica has about 10% foreign DNA.) Now, just imagine if the tardigrade was human-sized....
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