Tiny-but-tough tardigrades, also popularly known as water bears, aren’t as indestructible as previously believed.
These microanimals, which live in both fresh and salt water, are famous for their ability to survive extremes that would kill other organisms. But new research finds that the creatures rapidly wilt under heat. Water temperatures of less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius) can kill tardigrades in only a day. As global temperatures rise, that could become a problem for these animals, the authors of the new study said.
“Tardigrades are definitely not the almost-indestructible organism as advertised in so many popular science websites,” said Ricardo C. Neves, a postdoctoral scientist in biology at the University of Copenhagen, who co-authored the new paper on tardigrade toughness, published Jan. 9 in the journal Scientific Reports.