The Eight Legged Tardigrade or Water Bear

[caption id="attachment_14073" align="alignright" width="440"] ESA Image by Dr. Ralph O. Schill[/caption] The eight-legged tardigrade or water bear may seem insignificantly small. In fact, it is microscopic. Yet it is capable of thriving at death’s door under near impossible conditions. It is the penultimate extremophile. Its official name, tardigrade, refers to the "bear’s" slow, lumbering movements. Its feeding habits earn it the nickname, moss piglet. In fact, water bears are harvested for research purposes from moss-covered tree stumps. Special Features of the Water Bear Water bears can survive temperatures near absolute zero.¹ Why doesn’t the water in its body form destructive ice crystals? It seems to be due to the presence of the disaccharide sugar trehalose. Trehalose is found in a number of lower life forms. It possesses unique properties. It…
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