Everyday strangeness

Tardi

Tardigrade

Erm, this is not a surprise gift made from a hoover bag (sorry, it’s the time of the year 😉 It is the tardigrade, or water bear, a tiny animal, seen through the microscope. A good thing they don’t grow taller than half a millimeter max, as they love wet grounds and therefor are quite common. Around here. {Brrr}

Everyday and small they may be, but definitely not soft: They can survive temperatures way below zero and far above the boiling point of water (from -272 to 151 degrees Celcius). Also, they are the only known species to survive in space (for a few days). They can cope with large amounts of pressure and radiation, and can live for more than 10 years (!) without food or water. They then ‘die’, become spore-like, just until they can soak up water again and off they go. {Brrr x 2!}

Tardigrade

The Tardigrade aka water bear

And now, there is more strangeness to this microscopic creature to report: A large part of their DNA (17,5%) is taken in from other organisms.

How does that work?! What did they choose? They definitely went for a longevity mix, as it is almost impossible to kill them!

[Note: It happened through a ‘horizontal transfer’ of genes, instead of the usual vertical transfer, from parents to their offspring. Other (microscopic water) animals have always measured far lower percentages, but still, how?! And, humans rarely swap genes horizontally, but it does happen, with viruses.]  More on science alert.

 

About Wilma Tichelaar

relentless hunter gatherer of soothing beauty, great and small
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