That title is no misprint! This almost indestructible animal that is tougher than a grizzly is a water bear. Thousands of water bears, or tardigrades, can be found in a handful of wet soil. They can be found at the bottom of the ocean, under meters of ice, in hot springs, on the top of high mountains, and in your own backyard. They are called "water bears" because they resemble miniature bears and their gait is much like that of a bear.
A water bear is so tiny that it is barely visible, ranging in size from 0.1 -1.5 millimeters, smaller than the thickness of a quarter. It has a short, four segmented body with eight legs ending in a set of claws. It has eyes, a mouth, stomach, and even nerves. The water bear helps break down plant matter and is essentially harmless to people.
Why are they described as indestructible? It is because they can survive the most extreme temperatures that would kill any other animal. They can take temperatures from -458 degrees Fahrenheit to well over 212 degrees Fahrenheit (the temperature that water boils). They can live over 10 years without water and even survive the vacuum of space! They can survive many hundreds of times the levels of X-ray radiation that would kill a human.
The key to their durability is that they can decrease their metabolism to almost non-existence and decrease their water content to 1% of normal. When conditions get hard for survival, they go into a death-like state, stopping any process in their bodies for up to 120 years if necessary! When environmental conditions get better again, they revive within a few minutes to a few hours and go on with their lives.
The water bear is indeed the toughest animal in the world!
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