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Indestructible Tardigrade – the Key to Radiation Shielding

Rendering of a tardigrade, considered the toughest animal on Earth
Rendering of a tardigrade, considered the toughest animal on Earth

It takes something truly extraordinary, like maybe the death of the Sun, to kill the near-indestructible invertebrate known as the tardigrade. Crash-landings on the Moon, a lack of oxygen and conditions in the darkest corners of the ocean don’t appear pose a threat to this critter’s livelihood. Scientists studying these so-called water bears have uncovered a neat trick they employ to endure inhospitable conditions, using a unique protein to generate protective clouds around their DNA. read more

Surviving After All Else Dies

The tardigrade shall inherit the Earth, according to a new study from Oxford and Harvard
The tardigrade shall inherit the Earth, according to a new study from Oxford and Harvard(Credit: rukanoga/Depositphotos)

In about 5 billion years’ time, our Sun will use up its reserves of hydrogen and begin to cool down and expand, cooking the Earth in a miasma of heat and radiation. Given our current trajectory, humans will probably be long gone by then anyway, but at least one lifeform will likely still be plodding along: the utterly unkillable tardigrade. According to a new study from Harvard and Oxford, it’ll take nothing short of the death of the Sun to finally do the species in – which bodes well for the resilience of life as a whole. read more