The beloved tardigrade is having a great year.
Amsterdam museum Micropia, the world’s first museum devoted solely to microbes, made a giant chair in the shape of the microscopic, water-dwelling, seemingly invincible creature also referred to as “water bear” or “moss piglet.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson popularised this adorable creature in a 2014 episode of his space television show “Cosmos,” in which he fawned over their 500-million-year survival on Earth — through our planet’s five most recent mass extinctions.
Check out some neat facts and awesome photos by museum visitors below:
Though they appear much larger here, tardigrades can grow up to 500 micrometres in size — about five times the size of a human egg cell.
They’re often referred to as “nature’s toughest animal” because they can survive in many different environments, including boiling water, solid ice, and even space. They’re even quite resilient in a museum:
When they’re forced into conditions that would normally kill them, such as an extreme waterless environment, they can squeeze all of the water out of their bodies and replace it with the sugar trehalose.
Swedish scientist K. Ingemar Jonsson flung a sample of dehydrated tardigrades into space in 2007 to see how they’d survive exposure to the vacuum and solar radiation. As expected, about 70% of these bad boys survived the trip.
Their mouths are lined with sharp, dagger-like teeth that they use to lance algea and other small organisms.
Their incredible lifespan also puts cockroaches to shame, as they have been on the planet longer than any other known living organism.
But most of all, they’re really cute and have somehow managed to capture many of our hearts.
If you happen to be visiting Amsterdam any time soon, be sure to check out this and other exhibits at Micropia museum.
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