It becomes dormant at one month old and can wake up years later and still biologically be the same age. Until then, here's everything you need to know about these weird, wonderful creatures. Tardigrades are a class of microscopic animals with eight limbs and a strange, alien-like behavior. William Miller, a leading tardigrade researcher at Baker University, says they are remarkably abundant. Hundreds of species "are found across the seven continents; everywhere from the highest mountain to the lowest sea," he says.
In , scientists discovered that these microscopic critters can survive an extended stay in the cold, irradiated vacuum of outer space. When the water bears returned to Earth, the scientists discovered that 68 percent lived through the ordeal. Although as far as we know tardigrades are unique in their ability to survive in space, Miller insists that there is no reason to believe they evolved for this reason or—as a misleading VICE documentary has implied—that they are of extraterrestrial origin. Rather, the tardigrade's space-surviving ability is the result of a strange response they've evolved to overcome an earthly life-threatening problem: a water shortage.
Land-dwelling tardigrades can be found in some of the driest places on earth. Yet these are technically aquatic creatures, and require a thin layer of water to do pretty much anything, including eating, having sex, or moving around.
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Without water, they're about as lively as a beached dolphin. But land-dwelling tardigrades have evolved a bizarre solution to living through drought: When their environment dries up, so do they. Tardigrades will enter a state called desiccation, in which they shrivel up—losing all but around 3 percent of their body's water and slowing their metabolism down to an astonishing 0.
In this state, the tardigrade just persists, doing nothing, until it's inundated with water again. When that happens, the creature pops back to life like a re-wetted sponge and continues onward as if nothing had happened. What's even more astonishing is that tardigrades can survive being in this strange state for more a decade. According to Miller, a few researchers believe some species of tardigrades might even be able to survive desiccation for up to a century.
Yet the average lifespan of a continuously hydrated tardigrade is rarely longer than a few months. In its desiccated state, the tardigrade is ridiculously, almost absurdly resilient. Tell Outlook to deliver a message on or after a certain date. Delayed sending is great for reminders, birthday wishes, and similar items you plan today but won't send until some future date. Make Outlook retain the original message source when it retrieves emails from the internet. Full headers are useful when troubleshooting a problem or if you need to prove some fact about the receipt of a message.
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