Tardigrades are microscopic water -dwelling animals (although some species dwell in moss and tress) that scientists now say are able to survive asteroids, supernovae and gamma-ray bursts — all of which would destroy human life on earth.
- There are species of tardigrades that can withstand a temperature of -272 °C — one degree warmer than absolute zero — and even the vacuum of space. Scientists sent 3,000 animal species into low Earth orbit, and tardigrades survived for 12 days outside of the capsule. There are microfossils of these creatures from as far back as 520 million years ago — before dinosaurs.
- Theoretical physicists from Oxford and Harvard modeled the impact of different cataclysmic events — an asteroid impact, supernovae, and gamma-ray bursts — and found tardigrades could survive the end-of-the-world events, making a complete end of all living things pretty unlikely.
- One sticking point: Some biologists point out that the study, done by physicists, treated tardigrades as one animal, when there are actually more than 1,200 different species of tardigrades.