Japanese researchers brought tiny creatures called “Water Bears” back to life after 30 years in their frozen state.
Have you ever thought of getting back to normal after spending 30 years in a freezer? Of course not.
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But our Japanese researchers made this miracle come true for the first time in world history.
Let’s have a look at the anatomy of our subject. This tiny creature is known as a tardigrade which is a water-dwelling, eight-legged, segmented microscopic creature. A fully grown tardigrade is about 0.5 mm (0.020 in) in length and is short and plump with four pair of legs (each with four to eight claws known as ‘disks’.)
They can get through extremes of temperature. These temperatures range between −458 °F(−272 °C) to 300 °F(150 °C). Researchers finally found the secret behind their long lives. They can live for up to 30 years without food or water.
They can be found throughout the world from the highest mountains to the deepest seas. The most favorable places are dunes, beaches, soil and marine or freshwater sediments. Well, if you really want to see one, soak a piece of moss into the water. They could be found there too.
The discovery of water bears took place in 1773. The German pastor Johann August Ephraim Goeze observed them for the first time. After three years of discovery, Italian biologist Lazzaro Spallanzani gave the creature the name of Tardigrada which means slow stepper.
We have some previous records of revived animals. An example would be the reviving of nematodes after 39 years. Similarly, a case of a moss also took place and it was revived after 25 years. These creatures have an ability to shut down their activities especially their metabolism.
In all such cases, the survival of the animals has been recorded but we couldn’t find any record regarding their reproduction. However, these water bears are able to reproduce successively.
Moreover, the revived animals undergo a positive recovery and one of them was even able to move its legs on the very first day after de-frosting. This phenomena of recovery is slow and it takes almost two weeks or more for them to crawl. The only possible damage that they could experience after 30 years of frozen life is a retarded recovery.
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"Our team now aims at unraveling the mechanisms underlying the long-term survival of cryptobiotic organisms by studying damage to tardigrades' DNA and their ability to repair it." said Megumu Tsujimto, the lead researcher at National Institute of Polar Research.