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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Where no water bear has gone before

Tardigrades, also known as water bears, are fascinating creatures. They are little studied, but very successful--they live on land, in fresh water, and in the sea. They are amazingly hardy creatures, able to survive incredibly harsh environments, and have become the first known animal able to survive the vacuum of outer space.

Details are in the coverage of the press release in Science Daily, which has a link to the article in Current Biology. If you have access to a microscope, you can go find water bears--see the Goldstein Lab at UNC Chapel Hill's website on tardigrades to learn how. You may fall under their spell--they're absolutely adorable, and as enchanting as any magical creature--they can survive for years without water, even traveling on the wind, can be freeze-dried, and come back to life in minutes when rehydrated.

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