Scientists have discovered yet another reason to be impressed with tardigrades; some of these microscopic, nearly indestructible creatures wear a glowing “shield” that protects them from ultraviolet radiation.
Tubby tardigrades — also called moss piglets or water bears — are known for their toughness, able to withstand extreme heat, cold and pressure, as well as the vacuum of space. They can also survive exposure to levels of radiation that would kill many other life-forms.
Now, scientists have uncovered new clues about tardigrades’ radiation resistance. Experiments with tardigrades in the Paramacrobiotus genus revealed that fluorescence protects them like a layer of sunscreen, transforming damaging UV rays into harmless blue light, according to a new study.