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Do Water Bears See in Black & White?

tardigrade - deposit photos

Chubby, resilient tardigrades — arguably the cutest of all microscopic life — can survive punishing temperature extremes, exposure to the vacuum of space and even being shot out of a gun. But there’s one thing tardigrades can’t do: see in color. Tardigrades are related to arthropods (invertebrates with segmented bodies and exoskeletons), and arthropods can see colors because of light-sensitive proteins called opsins, which play a role in vision and circadian rhythms. Tardigrades have opsins too, but little was known about what they do, so scientists recently conducted genetic analysis in two species of tardigrades, to discover how opsins affected … Read more

What Happens When You Shoot a Water Bear Out of a Gun?

tardigrade - deposit photos

Tardigrades, those adorable, chubby water bears, are notoriously hardy — they may even survive an apocalypse that wipes out humanity. But can these hardy water bears survive being shot from a gun? New research has found that yes, these hardy critters can make it out alive, but they also have a breaking point. The new study was inspired by uncertainty about the fate of tardigrades that were aboard Israel’s Beresheet probe when it crash-landed on the moon in 2019, according to Science magazine. Had the tardigrades, also called “water bears,” survived and contaminated Earth’s lifeless companion? After all, these teensy … Read more

Some Tardigrades Have Light Shields!

Tardigrade Light Shield

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 … Read more

SCIENCE: Water Bears Have a Fatal Weakness – heat

tardigrade - deposit photos

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,” … Read more