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20 Interesting Tardigrade Facts

by Sankalan Baidya
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20 Interesting Tardigrade Facts

Did you ever wonder which is the toughest animal on Earth? It is not a Tiger or a Lion! Even dinosaurs were not among the toughest living organisms. This honor goes to a cute looking and squishy micro-animal – the Tardigrade! This creature has super powers that humans can only dream of. So, let us today learn 20 interesting Tardigrade facts and find out what is so special about them that we can never have. You ready?

Interesting Tardigrade Facts: 1-10

1. Tardigrades are small, really tiny, actually micro animals with segmented bodies. They are usually water-dwelling creatures but can be found in a myriad of places like Antarctic ice, deep in ocean beds to a depth of 14,000 ft, high up in Himalayas at a height of 20,000 ft, tree barks, moss and more!

2. They have 8 legs (4 pairs) and each leg has 4 to 8 claws that resemble the claws of a bear. This is why they have earned the name ‘Water Bear’ but they are also known by the name ‘Moss Piglet’ because they are also found in moss.

3. Tardigrades were discovered for the first time in 1773 by a German pastor by the name Johan August Ephraim Goeze. In 1776, the animal received the name Tardigrada by an Italian biologist named Lazzaro Spallanzani.

4. More than a 1,150 species of Tardigrades have been identified so far since 1778.

5. Scientists classify these micro-animals as extremophiles because they are capable of surviving in extreme conditions. Even less than 10% of such conditions are considered hostile and deadly for humans.

6. Tardigrades are usually 0.5 mm long but they can grow a little longer and reach up to 1 mm.

7. Tardigrade babies are all born with a full range of adult cells. They grow not by cell division. Their cell simply expand in size.

8. Tardigrades have existed for a very very long time. They have actually outlived the dinosaurs. Tardigrades have been around for 530 million years. Well, that’s what the fossil records say.

9. Most of the Tardigrade species are oviparous. In simple layman language, females lay egg inside their shed cuticle and then males cover those eggs with their sperm. Only a very few among the known Tardigrade species are not oviparous and females in those species have internal fertilization.

10. Tardigrades have sharp dagger-like teeth in their tubular mouth that they use to spear other living organisms and algae. They are usually feed on bacteria or plant cells (known as bacteriophagous and phytophagous respectively) but there are a few other species that are predatory by nature and feed on other smaller animals.

Interesting Tardigrade Facts: 11-20

11. Tardigrades can survive extreme heat. Scientists have put them at scorching 151 degrees Celsius or 304 degrees Fahrenheit and found that they can survive for a few minutes.

12. Scientists have also frozen them to temperature of -200 degrees Celsius or -328 degrees Fahrenheit which they have happily survived for days! They were taken further down to a temperature of -272 degrees Celsius (which is just one degree above absolute zero) and they have managed to survive for a few minutes!

13. These Tardigrades are way tougher that what scientists found in temperature fluctuation experiments. Tardigrades can live for a decade (10 years) without food and water! They even found one in a 120-year old dried moss which reported a leg movement!

14. In extreme cold conditions, these Tardigrades manage to drop the water content of their body from 85% to 3%. This is one of their survival strategies because when frozen, water expands. If the Tardigrades don’t dehydrate themselves in extreme cold conditions, the water in their body will expand and will tear them apart. They prevent this from happening by dehydrating themselves. In this state they make use of a type of sugar known as trehalose that prevents any kind of membrane damage in these extraordinary animals.

15. These guys are even capable of surviving extreme pressure. Most of the species can withstand 1,200 times the normal atmospheric pressure however, there are some species that can withstand 6,000 times atmospheric pressure. That’s 6 times the pressure water puts at the bottom of Mariana Trench!

16. In case you are not satisfied yet, expose them to extreme radiations and they will come out victorious. Scientists have found out that the lethal dose of Gamma Rays to kill Tardigrades is 5,000 Gy while the lethal dose of heavy ions is 6,200 Gy. For humans, 5-10 Gy is lethal.

17. Scientists have found out that Tardigrades are capable of repairing their DNA pretty efficiently after the damage caused by radiations. And they also found that whether these animals are exposed to such radiation in a dehydrated or hydrated state, they are pretty resilient, with dehydrated state being far more invincible!

18. Still not happy? Okay, put them to high toxic environmental conditions and they will survive for years by entering a state known as chemobiosis.

19. They can survive in the most hostile environment known to human – the space! They can survive for 10 days straight. In an experiment conducted in 2007, Tardigrades were actually taken to space in dehydrated state and they were exposed to outer space’s perfect vacuum and extreme solar UV radiations and left there for 10 days. They were brought back on earth and rehydrated. Within 30 minutes they were back to life. After returning from such extreme conditions, they were found to produce perfectly healthy and viable embryos!

20. These extraordinary capabilities of Tardigrades come from their ability to reversibly halt all their metabolic activities completely. This is know as cryptobiosis and when a Tardigrade gets into a cryptobiotic state, it is known as ‘tun’.

That concludes our 20 interesting Tardigrade facts. If you have some more to share, feel free to enlighten us through the comments section! Our question is, will Tardigrades be the last life form standing on earth after nature decides to unleash the doomsday?

Sources: 1, 2

Image Credits: 1, 2

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77 comments

bob January 21, 2015 - 8:37 pm

hi this is very helpful for my work

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frankie February 10, 2017 - 12:44 am

good for you “bob”

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cuckpus March 9, 2017 - 8:05 pm

im so glad that this was helpful for you. It’s so important to utilize online resources when it comes to getting factually correct information. I appreciate your comment because you are showing the world that we have so much accessible information right at our fingertips. Now bob I hope you conquor the world with your new ability to access information. No project you ever have will lack information.

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randomprofit April 8, 2017 - 1:09 am

you are so encouraging, cuckpus! with encouragement like this, someone like bob will certainly conquer the world. sometimes information is not enough; people need kind attention as well and this attention with all the words you have used will surely be the warm send-off someone like bob needs, especially when utilizing online resources for factually correct information. there is indeed so much accessible information and i forget this sometimes too! thank you for indirectly encouraging me to share my thoughts here as well and for reading them. i hope you have a great day.

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WORDSMITH March 27, 2018 - 8:44 am

RANDOMPROFIT, your words are like honey dripping into the ears of fellow lovers of online sources of accurate data. Thanks be to you for your loving kindness towards both cuckpus and bob! Surely they both will be wildly successful in their efforts to be successful in both succeeding, as well as using correct information in the proper manner from the Internet. I will focus my attention on FRANKIE, who has yet to be bolstered in his work. FRANKIE, you are on the correct path, as you appropriately identify bob as “bob,” who we know here from the internet on this highly informational data providing internet related site for the use of correct information. Best wishes to all here as they succeed in using this highly delightful information appropriately in their important work.

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Hayes October 30, 2017 - 8:34 pm

It is also helpful for my work Bob

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yolo September 15, 2015 - 10:29 pm

this is brill for my research

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Jizza September 25, 2015 - 7:09 pm

Whooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Go retardigrade

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kdog October 20, 2015 - 3:23 am

yolo but not for these guys

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kadan October 20, 2015 - 3:26 am

#yolo but not for these guys

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theresa November 7, 2015 - 11:57 pm

Can they be disected or killed in any or do they live forever? They are sort of cute but creepy.

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Sankalan Baidya November 8, 2015 - 1:43 am

Yes, they can be dissected and killed as well. It is just that killing with dissecting will be a little difficult using radioactivity, heat or cold. I don’t know if they can be squeezed to death or not but possibly, they cannot be killed that way.

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Jeff December 15, 2016 - 8:34 am

nope

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bobby hoodjukred December 14, 2015 - 12:24 am

how long do they live?

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Sankalan Baidya December 14, 2015 - 5:30 am

In normal conditions (i.e. when not dormant, they usually live a year or so) but if latent, they can be revived after 60 years. There is a cataloged case of a tardigrade revived after 120 years of dormancy. You can find it here.

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randomprofit April 8, 2017 - 1:11 am

from a quick internet search, i understand that a hydrated tardigrade usually lives only a few months.

so i stay on a silica bed when not on the internet. 🙂

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Alexander Stk January 9, 2016 - 8:51 pm

That is great for my homework! Thanks.

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Sankalan Baidya January 9, 2016 - 9:10 pm

You are welcome Alexander! Glad we could be of some help to you. 🙂

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Albert February 19, 2016 - 5:45 pm

actually Tardigrades are not classed as extremophiles as they aren’t properly adapted to live constantly subjected to extreme conditions (hard vacuum, 1 kelvin or 420 kelvin temps)

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January January 13, 2017 - 7:31 am

Actually, they are considered extremophiles, I’ve been doing research for a couple weeks now. Also, the “a” in “actually” needs to be capitalized.

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Guest January 20, 2017 - 1:02 pm

You really think that he didn’t know that you need to capitalize the first word of every sentence. You don’t need to be such a show off over such a simple mistake. Technically you need a semicolon after extremophiles, so your not that intelligent either.

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Maggie March 18, 2017 - 6:35 am

The guest who commented: You have “your” instead of “you’re”, so can we all just stop being petty here?

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caiden October 10, 2018 - 4:10 am

Thank you

bob March 16, 2016 - 10:19 pm

this is so cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Turtle March 22, 2016 - 5:59 pm

Tardigrades are very capable of world domination.

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chery October 16, 2017 - 3:13 pm

Capable? You must be a newcomer.!

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Bri May 1, 2019 - 5:28 am

NOT IF I STAMP ON THEM.

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poop face April 30, 2016 - 6:40 am

this is veary helpfull

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Addison July 12, 2016 - 4:51 am

Did you know that tadigrades eat dust particles! It’s extendable proboscis and consume particles in a radius of 1.5 times its body length!

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Sankalan Baidya July 12, 2016 - 5:41 am

Wow! That’s one hell of an interesting fact Addison. Thank you for sharing this info with us.

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Dylan May 8, 2019 - 1:02 am

dont use profanity

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Sankalan Baidya May 10, 2019 - 11:34 am

When did I use profanity?

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Dylan May 8, 2019 - 1:02 am

nice

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Adam July 14, 2016 - 5:37 am

i got a A pluse in my work thanks!!!!

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Sankalan Baidya July 14, 2016 - 7:04 am

You are welcome!

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Minhaj August 30, 2016 - 2:58 pm

Thanks so much, this information was very helpful!

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Minhaj August 30, 2016 - 3:51 pm

As a matter of fact, I researched more information about Water Bears, and found out that their life-span is between 3 months to 30 months, so that means you were totally wrong Sankalan Baidya…

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chery October 16, 2017 - 3:20 pm

Last time I looked, “usually about a year”is within your time frame with some 3 mos and some 30..!

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Jeannot September 20, 2016 - 10:54 pm

Can tardigrades kill or hrt humans?

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Sankalan Baidya September 21, 2016 - 9:16 am

Never heard of anything like that.

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Sandy Bootycheeks October 6, 2016 - 10:56 pm

Oh Spongebob give me that square thang!

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Moriah DeRaps November 3, 2016 - 5:07 am

Thank you soooo much!! This was super helpful for my report!

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gavn November 8, 2016 - 1:26 am

it was a wee bit help full but can this site tell me the diet predetor habitat lenght hight wieght and population and maybe even show me a diagram

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lache knight November 28, 2016 - 7:02 am

there sooooooooooooooooooooooo disgustingly ugly

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guest December 15, 2016 - 8:33 am

perfect for my project if you get the correct resources

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Jack March 6, 2017 - 10:51 pm

hi I am dumb and this helped on my project for facts!

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cuckpus March 9, 2017 - 8:00 pm

I like very much ye :3

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Judith Norell March 22, 2017 - 6:17 am

Thank you for the totally fascinating article about tardigrades! I hadn’t heard of them before, and certainly won’t be able to search form them, but I feel enriched by knowing they exist and such amazing capabilities!

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randomprofit April 8, 2017 - 1:13 am

Thank you for compiling these 20 facts, I have learned from this and would like to link to you from my site, with your permission Sandkalan Baidya!

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Sankalan Baidya April 8, 2017 - 9:51 am

Your site needs to have a minimum traffic of 3k visitors a day before we link back to your site. That’s the linking policy we follow.

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carlos May 11, 2017 - 12:20 am

this is really helpful on my project thanks for making this facts thing.

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Sankalan Baidya May 11, 2017 - 1:46 pm

We are glad to know that we could be of some help to you.

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carlos May 11, 2017 - 12:23 am

thanks for making this

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Sankalan Baidya May 11, 2017 - 1:46 pm

You are welcome

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awsome sauce May 11, 2017 - 12:24 am

thanks one more time

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Sankalan Baidya May 11, 2017 - 1:47 pm

You are welcome once again!

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sammmmy May 17, 2017 - 2:17 am

can you give information about the jumping spider

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Sankalan Baidya May 17, 2017 - 9:46 pm

@Sammmmy: What you are looking for is already there on this site. Here is the direct link: http://factslegend.org/20-interesting-jumping-spider-facts/

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Joe May 25, 2017 - 12:50 am

hi peeps i love this

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Aimvi soro July 20, 2017 - 10:27 pm

What helps this fascinating tardigrade able to survive in various conditions?

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Sankalan Baidya July 21, 2017 - 8:51 pm

Hello Aimvi,

Thanks for asking this interesting question. The answer to your question is a process known as CRYPTOBIOSIS. It is a process in which the metabolic activities come to a standstill but retains the option of reversing back. The state of CRYPTOBIOSIS is pretty much like that of attaining death where metabolic activities simply cease to exist. However, you need to know that CRYPTOBIOSIS has various forms. They are ANHYDROBIOSIS (when there is a lack of water), CRYOBIOSIS (when the temperature is extremely low), OSMOBIOSIS (when solute concentration increases significantly, for example salt water in which salt concentration increases) and ANOXYBIOSIS (where there is lack of oxygen). For Tardigrades, ANHYDROBIOSIS is most common.

What happens is when the dry period comes (lack of water), the Tardigrades curl up and form a tiny ball that scientists call TUN. Tun is formed by metabolism and synthesis of trehalose – a protective sugar. This sugar or trehalose moves inside the cells of Tardigrades and replace the water in the cells. In the Tun phase, the metabolism of Tardigrades fall down to 0.01% of the normal metabolism rate.

During revival, this trehalose moves out of cells and water fills in the cells. This revival can take up to several hours depending on how long the Tardigrades have been in their Anhydrobiosis state.

Hope that answers your question.

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Susan October 18, 2017 - 10:37 pm

Fascinating!
Grammatical error in fact 13. Use “more tough” or “tougher”, but not “more tougher”: It is like saying “They are more more tough than…”. This goes for any verb that’s got the ‘er’ suffix. It makes you sound dumb, which you’re not.

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Sankalan Baidya October 18, 2017 - 10:43 pm

Susan, thank you for pointing out the mistake. It has been fixed.

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Michael S Castrova March 1, 2018 - 3:33 am

Hi… Has anyone read what a tardigrade’s teeth are made of?

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Chris May 13, 2018 - 4:51 pm

Nope,but I’m about to try and find out.

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Chris May 13, 2018 - 4:50 pm

This is a fantastic site.Well done Sankalan.ive had the word”tardigade” stored in the note app on my phone for months,today I decided to type it into a google search engine and your site popped up.i feel almost like I have struck gold.excellent work.good man.mostly the comments are great and informative too.

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Sankalan Baidya May 14, 2018 - 11:36 am

Thank you Chris. We are glad that you liked our website and thank you for being a valuable reader. Keep coming back and feel free to ask any question that you have on your mind.

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Michele September 12, 2018 - 12:37 pm

Thankyou for this information, I have an autistic son who just called his older sister who wears in appropriately short shorts in winter a giant tardigrade. Thanks to your website I was able to appreciate this description to its fullest measure.

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Vincent Laxson January 12, 2019 - 9:55 am

awesome

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Vincent Laxson January 12, 2019 - 9:56 am

awesomeness

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Dylan May 8, 2019 - 1:00 am

this was a helpful website

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Dylan May 8, 2019 - 1:00 am

i will use it more often

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Juice WRLD May 8, 2019 - 1:06 am

are tardigrades also called retards

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Sankalan Baidya May 10, 2019 - 11:34 am

No idea!

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dylan May 9, 2019 - 10:55 pm

help

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Sankalan Baidya May 10, 2019 - 11:32 am

What help do you want Dylan?

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dylan May 9, 2019 - 11:18 pm

hlp plz

Reply

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