The Bizarre World of the Moss Piglet
Status: No Conservation Concerns
Here is one of the most alien lifeforms I’ve ever read about… that’s found right here on Earth. These are Tardigrades, or more commonly called ‘water bears’ or ‘moss piglets.’ These peculiar beings look like miniature gummy bears but are really microscopic animals that live in the water, are segmented, and have 8 legs. The name water bear comes from the way that they walk, which resembles that of a lumbering bear. The largest adults may reach lengths of around 1.5 millimetres, whereas the smallest may reach lengths below 0.1 mm. Typically you can find these guys on lichens or mosses, which is where their other name of ‘moss piglet’ stems from.
One of the most interesting aspects of the moss piglet, or water bear, is the ability it has to survive, and even flourish, in environments that we typically think of as uninhabitable. Some can survive temperatures of close to absolute zero (which is −459 °F, mind you); others can withstand temps as high as 304 °F. Not only that, they can take 1,000 times more radiation than other animals, and can go a DECADE without water! Insane!!!
Oh, and last but not least, they can survive in space. So watch out, because water bears might take over the universe someday [soon].