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Frozen Tardigrade Brought Back to Life After 30 Years

Researchers at the National Institute of Polar Research in Tokyo defrosted and revived two of the tiny animals, which are also known as water bears, from a batch collected in the Antarctic in 1983, The Asahi Shimbun newspaper reports. While one tardigrade died after 20 days, the other began reproducing. It laid 19 eggs, of which 14 hatched successfully.

tardigrade

Image: Megumu Tsujimotoa et. al.

Tardigrades (also known as water bears, because of the shape of their head) are one of the hardiest creatures on Earth, they can be frozen, boiled, put in a vacuum, dried to the point of having almost no moisture left in their body, and still return to living a normal life once put back into a normal environment. They can also apparently survive being frozen for decades, no worse for the wear.

The previous survival record for adult tardigrades under frozen conditions was eight years, and a much earlier study had suggested that the upper limit for survival under normal atmospheric oxygen conditions was about 10 years.
"We want to unravel the mechanism for long-term survival by looking into damage to tardigrades' DNA and their ability to repair it," said research lead Megumu Tsujimoto.

Watch: First Animal to Survive in Space


National Institute of Polar Research now plans to work on examining damage to the water bear's genes and its recovery functions to achieve a better understanding of its long-term survival mechanism.

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