General, Research, Technology

How can you kill the most tenacious creatures in the world?

Regular readers of our site are probably goodfamiliar with the amazing abilities of microscopic creatures called tardigrades. These creatures are known for having survived all the mass extinctions on our planet and are able to live in the most extreme conditions. For example, they can survive up to 30 years under water with temperatures up to -20 degrees Celsius, if they get into liquid oxygen and helium, and even survive after the fall of an asteroid and a supernova explosion. But recently, scientists from Denmark found one weak spot in them, due to the presence of which these amazing creatures can die with the now gradually increasing temperature of the Earth.

Tardigrades are considered one of the most tenacious creatures on Earth.

On the discovery of scientists from CopenhagenThe university was told in a scientific publication called Scientific Reports. Scientists already knew that tardigrades perfectly adapt to cold conditions, but are less resistant to extreme heat. In the course of previous studies of other groups of scientists, it was found that at temperatures from 60 to 65 degrees Celsius these creatures live for ten hours, and at 150 degrees for only half an hour. Based on this, the researchers became interested in how long tardigrades live in the long heat, which has been observed for several summer seasons in a row.

Why are tardigrades dying?

The amazing vitality of the tardigrades is due tothat they are able to immerse themselves in the so-called state of anhydrobiosis. As a rule, when exposed to extreme conditions, tardigrades pass into a "dried" state, in which they retract their limbs and take a barrel-shaped form. A minimal amount of moisture remains in their body, due to which they decrease in size and slow down the metabolism.

Image A shows a tardigrades in an active state, and on B - in anhydrobiosis

In the course of scientific work, scientists found out howhigh temperatures affect active tardigrades and individuals that are in anhydrobiosis. The study used tardigrades of the species Ramazzottius varieornatus, which live in large numbers in Danish water bodies. As it turned out, at a water temperature of 37.1 degrees Celsius, half of the population of tardigrades die only after a day. At the same time, individuals who lived in water with a slowly rising temperature died at 37.6 degrees.

Tardigrades species Ramazzottius varieornatus

Tardigrades in the "dried" state, in theirturn, during the day they died at a temperature of 82.7 degrees Celsius. But this is only provided that the thermal effect lasted no more than an hour. But if the water temperature remained high throughout the day, amazing creatures perished even at 63.1 degrees. It was at this moment that scientists discovered the weakness of tardigrades - they cannot survive in constant heat.

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Many may wonder - why duringprevious studies of tardigrades survived for 30 minutes at 150 degrees Celsius, and in this scientific work they suddenly began to die at 63 degrees? This is probably due to the fact that different types of these creatures were used in the research. In this, as mentioned above, tests were conducted on individuals living in water bodies.

You can read more about survival methods for tardigrades in our special material.

According to researchers, their discovery isfurther evidence that a gradual increase in the temperature of our planet is harmful to all living organisms without exception. It is possible that some animals can still adapt to new conditions, but some of them, even the most tenacious ones, may not succeed.