Cuddly soft toy.
FACTS: One of the more fascinating organisms in the microsphere is the common tardigrade – technically speaking, “slow walker.” However, it is not the tardigrade’s sluggish speed that captures the attention, but rather the fact that as this miniscule creature lumbers along on its eight tiny legs, it bears an uncanny resemblance to, well, a bear.
First described in 1773 by Johann August Ephraim Goeze as “kleiner Wasserbär,” these “little Waterbears” are unusually hardy. By entering a state of cryptobiosis – a kind of super-hibernation where the metabolism becomes inactive – waterbears can survive in boiling water, and at temperatures very close to absolute zero. They can dry out and survive 99% dehydrated for decades. They can survive a thousand times more radiation than humans can. They can even survive in the vacuum of outer space!