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Even tardigrades, the most indestructible animals in the world’, won’t survive global warming

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Even ‘the most indestructible animals in the world’ cannot survive global warming, as experts find the Achilles’ heel of Tardigrades is long-term exposure to high temperatures

  •  Tardigrades can survive some of Earth’s harshest environments
  • A new study found their weakness is long-term exposure to high temperatures 
  • Tests showed they have a 50% chance  of surviving temperatures above 98.78F 
  • Experts now question how these creatures will survive global warming 

Researchers have uncovered the Achilles’ heel Earth’s most indestructible animal – global warming.

Tardigrades can survive the vacuum of space, being frozen or exposure to radiation, but are unable to endure long-term exposure to high temperatures.

A study showed that specimens that were not acclimate to heat had a 50 percent mortality rate of surviving temperatures above 98.78 degrees Fahrenheit over a 24 hour period.

The specimens were collected in Denmark, which officials warn will suffer from warmer summers and longer heatwaves as a result of climate change, leaving experts to question the fate of these creatures in a warmer world.

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Researchers have uncovered the Achilles’ heel Earth’s most indestructible animal – global warming. Tardigrades can survive the vacuum of space, being frozen or exposure to radiation, but are unable to endure long-term exposure to high temperatures.

Researchers have uncovered the Achilles’ heel Earth’s most indestructible animal – global warming. Tardigrades can survive the vacuum of space, being frozen or exposure to radiation, but are unable to endure long-term exposure to high temperatures.

‘Global warming is already having harmful effects on habitats worldwide and it is therefore important to gain an understanding of how rising temperatures may affect extant animals,’ the researchers from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark wrote in the study published in Scientific Report.

‘Here, we investigate the tolerance to high temperatures of Ramazzottius varieornatus, a tardigrade frequently found in transient freshwater habitats.’

‘Using logistic modelling on activity we evaluate the effect of 24 hour temperature exposures on active tardigrades, with or without a short acclimation period, compared to exposures of desiccated tardigrades.’

The team collected a sediment sample from a roof gutter in Denmark that contained adult tardigrades.

Postdoc Ricardo Neves, who i involved in the research, said: ‘The specimens used in this study were obtained from roof gutters of a house located in Nivå, Denmark.’

‘We evaluated the effect of exposures to high temperature in active and desiccated tardigrades, and we also investigated the effect of a brief acclimation period on active animals’

They found that about 50 percent of tardigrades in the active state died when the temperature was put up to 98.78 degrees Fahrenheit.

A study showed that specimens that were not acclimate to heat had a 50 percent mortality rate of surviving temperatures above 98.78 degrees Fahrenheit over a 24 hour period

A study showed that specimens that were not acclimate to heat had a 50 percent mortality rate of surviving temperatures above 98.78 degrees Fahrenheit over a 24 hour period

If they were given time to acclimatize, they made it to 99.68 degrees.

However, the team observed specimens while in a cryptobiosis state, when they adapt to environmental stress, they could survive temperatures of up to 108.86 degrees for one hour.

And if exposed for 24 hours, the maximum temperature was 145.58 degrees Fahrenheit. 

According to Climate Change Adaptation, a website run by Denmark’s Ministry of the Environment and Food of Denmark and the Environmental Protection Agency, climate change will result in the country having warmer summers, longer heatwaves and more periods of drought. 

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‘The fact that the median lethal temperature for active R. varieornatus is so close to the median maximum temperature in Denmark—where the specimens used in this study have been sampled—is quite worrying in our opinion,’ Neves told Newsweek.

‘Before our study tardigrades were regarded as the only organism on Earth to survive a cataclysmic event, but now we know this is not true.’

‘[While tardigrades are] among the most resilient organisms inhabiting our planet, it is now clear that they are vulnerable to high temperatures. Therefore, it seems that even tardigrades will have a hard time handling rising temperatures due to global warming.’

WHAT ARE TARDIGRADES?

Tardigrades, also known as water bears, are said to be the most indestructible animals in the world.

These small, segmented creatures come in many forms – there are more than 900 species of them – and they’re found everywhere in the world, from the highest mountains to the deepest oceans.

Tardigrades, also known as water bears, are said to be the most indestructible animals in the world.

Tardigrades, also known as water bears, are said to be the most indestructible animals in the world.

They have eight legs (four pairs) and each leg has four to eight claws that resemble the claws of a bear.

Boil the 1mm creatures, freeze them, dry them, expose them to radiation and they’re so resilient they’ll still be alive 200 years later.

An illustration of a tardigrade (water bear) is pictured 

An illustration of a tardigrade (water bear) is pictured 

Water bears can live through temperatures as low as -457 degrees, heat as high as 357 degrees, and 5,700 grays of radiation, when 10-20 grays would kill humans and most other animals.

Tardigrades have been around for 530 million years and outlived the dinosaurs.

The animals can also live for a decade without water and even survive in space.

 

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