View Full Version : Tartigrade, one tough tiny animal

09-20-2016, 11:18 AM
Earth abides


They are the toughest known animals on Earth and now the secret to one of their superpowers – resistance to radiation – is out.

Tardigrades, also known as water bears or moss piglets, are tiny, eight-legged creatures that live in small bodies of water in habitats such as moss across the planet and are renowned for their extreme survival skills.

They can survive in the vacuum of outer space, withstand temperatures ranging from close to absolute zero to nearly 100°C, cope with pressures six times greater than those at the bottom of the deepest ocean and survive dehydration and being frozen for years on end.

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They can also defy hefty amounts of radiation that would be lethal to most other life on the planet – and now we know how they do it.

It is mainly down to a bizarre protective protein they evolved that somehow shields their DNA from radiation damage. Short for “Damage suppressor”, Dsup appears to work by physically cuddling up to DNA and cocooning it from harm, but without disrupting its normal functions.