26 Aug
5:11

After a few weeks of holidays I am back to continue my journey with you guys with 2 Steps From Science! I was for a few days in New York and I had the opportunity to visit the American Museum of Natural History, which was simply awesome! I really advise you to visit this museum if you like science such as volcanology, seismology, biology or prehistory.

OK, let’s focus on what I have to say, I noticed that a huge part of the community is not French. This is the reason why I chose to switch in English for the next articles.

When I was in New York there was a special show in the museum, which dealt with the limit of life!

====>More information about this exhibition

This gave me the idea to talk about a super weird animal called “tartigrade”. They are small (around 1 mm) and segmented animals living in extreme environments.

Hypsibiusdujardini

Why are they impressive? Because they are the only animals which can survive such extreme conditions. Indeed, they can be heated up to 151°C or cooled down to -272°C which is only 1°C above the absolute zero. They also can withstand a pressure 6000 times higher than the atmospheric pressure or survive vacuum. Tardigrades can be dried and still survive. One specimen has been recorded to survive 10 years dried. They are not sensitive to radiations of any kind, even when they are under 5000 Gy of radioactive radiations.

How can it be possible? These animals have a special ability: they can enter a state of cryptobiosis. What does it mean? It means that they can slow their metabolism to reach a level with nearly no biological activity. This allow them to survive and “wait” for better environmental conditions. Once the conditions get better again, tardigrades can restart their metabolic activity.

I hope you enjoyed discovering this strange animal and their secret to survive amazingly unbearable conditions. Do not hesitate to tell me what you thought about this article.

See you!

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Billythekid

PhD Student in Biophysics

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