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A tardigrade waving to the crowd

Tardigrades are generally believed to be the toughest lifeforms on the planet. These eight-legged microscopic animals have the capability to dry up and curl into a protective ball called a tun. In their tun state, they can survive until conditions improve enough to return to normal. Tardigrades can survive freezing water, boiling temperatures, crushing pressure, and intense radiation. With the ability to survive total dehydration and even starvation, they have been found everywhere in the earth’s biosphere including mountaintops, volcanoes, and the bottom of the sea.

Scientists wondered if tardigrades could survive hitching a ride on a comet to another planet, possibly acting as the mechanism to seed the planet with life. To survive such a trip, the tardigrade would have to endure shock pressures like the ones an asteroid produces. So they fired some out of a gun to find out.

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A dried up tardigrade before being revived

First the tardigrades were frozen for two days, giving them ample time to transform into their superhero tun form. Then they were placed in a nylon housing and loaded onto the tip of a bullet. Then the scientists fired the bullet into sand.

It was discovered that many tardigrades can survive speeds up to 2,103 mph and a pressure shock of 1.14 Gigapascals (GPa). In fact, at speeds of 1,628 mph, not a single tardigrades died from the impact.

Of course, the tardigrades were not too happy about being fired from a gun. Rather than coming out of their tun state in 8 or 9 hours as they normally would, they remained curled up for more than a day before uncurling and gesturing rudely at the scientists.

The experiments showed that it is indeed possible a tardigrade could be carried to another planet via a comet, possibly seeding the planet with life and reproducing enough new tardigrades to form an army to take revenge on evil scientists who showed no respect for earth’s most resilient lifeform.


By Reeko

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