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Since May 28, 2012
Tardigrades - Microscopic Water Bears
They may look cute but Tardigrades are one of the hardiest creatures on the planet. They are considered under a distinction of life as an extremophile, meaning they can survive in a hostile environment examples include the arctic, deserts, hydrothermal vents and more.
However Tardigrades have a gained a further fame of their own as a polyextremophile by being able to survive not only intense heat, but cold, radiation, desiccation and even the vacuum of space! It’s important to remember that we are considering extreme measured against human abilities, nevertheless these abilities make Tardigrades of great scientific interest.
What researchers believe allows Tardigrades these extreme abilities is their ability to effectively shutdown internally going into stasis and their remarkable repair mechanisms when in this state. Overall they can dehydrate themselves completely known as an anhydrobiotic state a form of Cryptobiosis and survive without a metabolism for months.
Why Tardigrades can do this might be due to how their environments have shaped them. Being less than 1mm in size exposes these organisms to a dynamic and harsh environment. Meaning they have been selected to be able to cope with sudden drastic changes such as loss of water, extreme changes in temperature, similar to the conditions of space. In fact these organisms have multiple forms of existence further refining their abilities to survive in extreme environments. Although eventually every organism needs to eat and when they do their preferred diet consists of algae perhaps filling stores to survive future conditions. Researchers have ongoing research into these creatures in Italy & NASA.
10 of the Most Majestic Caves in the World
- Ice Cave Near The Mutnovsky Volcano, Russia - Ice caves like these form in the glaciers surrounding the Mutnovsky Volcano in Russia. Some of them are formed by vents that release volcanic heat and gases called fumaroles. (photo by Florian Wizorek)
- Glowworms Cave, New Zealand - The Waitomo glowworm caves are home to a unique insect – the glowworm. These insects hang glistening silken strands from the ceiling of the cave and glow to attract unsuspecting prey. (photo by waitomo.com)
- Son Doong Cave, Vietnam - This is the largest currently known cave in the world. It is filled with countless wonders including isolated ecosystems, weather systems and geological formations. (photo by National Geographic)
- Batu Caves, Malaysia - These caves have been used by English and Chinese settlers as well as the indigenous Temuan people. The bat guano in the cave was mined for agricultural purposes, but now the cave is filled with statues and is open to visitors. (photo by Danny Xeero)
- Marble Caves, Patagonia - Theses caves are known for the spectacular reflections that the turquoise water casts on the white marble ceiling of the cave. They are also called the Marble Cathedral because of their beautiful and arching forms. (photo by kellywhite)
- Phraya Nakhon Cave, Thailand - This cave was historically a popular visiting place for local kings because of the illumination provided by the collapsed roofs. The pavilion in the center was built for the visit of King Chulalongkorn in 1890. (photo by Wasitpol Unchanakorrakit)
- Ellison’s Cave, United States - This photograph is of the Fantastic Cave pit, part of Ellison’s Cave in the state of Georgia. It is a popular attraction for pit cavers – those who enjoy rappelling down vertical subterranean drops. (photo by secondglobe.com)
- Vatnajokull Glacier Cave, Iceland - This cave is located in the largest glacier in Europe. Caves like these form due to melting glacial icewater, but they can be dangerous because glaciers are constantly breaking and changing. (photo by Einar Runar Sigurdson)
- Cave in Algarve, Portugal - Due to its location, the cave is prone to various seaside formations because of the rock face’s relative solubility in water. This specific cave near Lagos is accessible only by water. (photo by Bruno Carlos)
- Reed Flute Cave, China - The Reed Flute Cave in Guangxi, China has been visited by tourists for at least 1200 years. The cave is home to a spectacular array of stalagmites and stalactites. It is named for the reeds that grow at its mouth, which can be made into flutes. (photo by Pasquale di Pilato)
Look up at the stars: the 2013 Geminid meteor shower will peak on the nights of December 12-14.
The show starts at mid-to-late evening and ends at dawn. No matter your location, Geminid meteors will fall most plenty after midnight on December 13 and 14. (More information)
These gifs are of the last year’s Geminid meteor shower, here's the full video.