The world’s most robust animal can survive an asteroid impact, a supernova, and gamma ray bursts, but even the tardigrades will die when the oceans boil, but until then, they will outlive us all.
Also known as water bears, they are extremely tough animals that can survive extreme temperatures, radiation exposure and even the vacuum of space.
“Tardigrades are extremely hardy animals,” says Thomas C. Boothby, a tardigrade researcher at the University of North Carolina to the National Geographic. “Scientists are still trying to work out how they survive these extremes.”
Famed for their resilience, tardigrades can survive up to 30 years without food or water. These eight-legged creatures are expected to dodge extinction until the sun expands into a red giant. At a minimum, all the oceans have to boil away to completely remove all life on Earth.
Researchers who dedicate their hours to studying these creatures analyze various doomsday events to ascertain whether or not these are the sturdiest animals; this is what they concluded. An astrophysical event, like an asteroid striking the planet or a supernova explosion, would most certainly cause a mass extinction. It will most surely wipe out the human race, as we are a sensitive species and slight changes in our environment affects us greatly, regards study co-author Rafael Alves Batista of the University of Oxford.
“We don’t know how life starts on a planet, but since we’ve seen mass extinctions on Earth, we wanted to know if there are any astrophysical factors that could completely kill off all life on a planet once it gets started,” says study co-author David Sloan.
Today, astronomers know of only a dozen asteroids or large enough masses that could boil Earth’s oceans if they collided with our planet, and none of these objects are expected to intersect Earth’s orbit. There are numerous asteroids that could cause an “impact winter” and mass extinctions, but tardigrades are expected to outlive the event.
Supernovas are the explosive deaths of massive stars; these events can send out debris and immense amounts of radiation. To boil our oceans, a supernova needs to occur within 0.14 light-years away. The closest star to Earth is out of this distance, and isn’t the right type of star to supernova.
These creatures will ultimately die with the sun, according to researchers.
“It seems that life, once it gets going, is hard to wipe out entirely,” Sloan says. “Huge numbers of species, or even entire genera, may become extinct, but life as a whole will go on.”
Source:: The Harbinger