They are the toughest animals on the planet – and now scientists have discovered that they can even survive in space.
The tiny creatures, known as tardigrades or water bears, are certainly strange-looking with their eight chubby legs, little claws and probing heads.
Some experts have compared their shape with jelly babies or moles but tardigrades they should not be judged by their ‘cute’ appearance. They are virtually indestructible – they will not die even if they are boiled, frozen, squeezed under pressure or desiccated.
In fact, they can be completely dried out for years – and then spring back to life as if nothing had happened.
Now researchers have revealed that tardigrades – which usually measure no more than a millimetre in length and live in moss – have withstood the airless extremes of space.’