You just can’t keep water bears down…

The tardigrade, better known as a ‘water bear’, has become my new favorite animal.

Why, you may ask? What makes them so special? How are they better than my favorite animal?

Simple. Your favorite can’t survive in the vacuum of space.

From Discover Magazine:

Tiny invertebrates known as water bears are in one sense far tougher than humans who can crush hundreds of them underfoot: A new study has shown that the water bears can survive the vacuum and radiation of space. The water bears, who are more properly known as tardigrades, were launched into orbit aboard a European Space Agency satellite, where they were exposed for 10 days to the cold, low pressure, and intense radiation of space before being brought back down to Earth to study.

Researchers already knew that water bears were unusually tough critters. [T]hey prefer to spend their days in water, perhaps on a beach or a dewy patch of moss. But when the water dries up, the millimetre-long ‘bears’ can contract into a dried-out state and survive like that for years. They are also one of the few animals that survive year-round on continental Antarctica, and are among the most radiation-resistant animals known [Nature News].

Not only that, but they’re just so darn cute!

And for you creationists out there, I have just one question. If god intelligently designed humans, why didn’t he give us the power to survive in space?

The extra limbs would come in handy too.

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18 Responses to You just can’t keep water bears down…

  1. Natassia says:

    And for you creationists out there, I have just one question. If god intelligently designed humans, why didn’t he give us the power to survive in space?

    Maybe God didn’t want humans f-ing up space too.

  2. gmirwin says:

    It’s good to see the humble tardigrade receive its proper recognition.

    I would assert that we do have the power to survive in space through our intellect that allows up to invent technology that protects us up there. Granted, it’s not as awesome as the tardigrade’s ability to survive without a spacesuit, but tardigrades haven’t invented rockets.

  3. mulanji says:

    Tardigrades have fascinated me for many years, the state of cryptobiosis raises interesting questions about our understanding of death, as it appears to require redefining, it also raises some interesting philosophical questions. When I lived in London I was a member of the Quekett Microscopic Club, which meets at the Natural History Museum. ( If you are interested, the club journal has printed many articles on tardigrades over the years. Back in the 70s I heard of some research into the life cycle of the tardigrade, which it was hoped would lead to a cure for some cancers, by ‘freezing’ the growth of a tumour in much the same way as cryptobiosis suspends the life of a tardigrade, but I never found out how that progressed. Now I just amuse my grandchildren, letting them ‘hunt’ and then examine specimens under the microscope, they show up great under dark ground, I’m glad you like them, they are fascinating creatures, and there is so much about them we do not understand.

  4. prunusdulcis says:

    Hey NotAScientist,

    Thanks for dropping a comment on my post about atheism. I’ve replied.

    I like the look of your blog by the way. Good on you for championing the sciences! Why is this your chosen cause?

    I was fascinated by the tardigrade. You’re right, it’s cute -in a 1950s horror B-movie kind of way.

    I’m no creationist -I subscribe to the theory of theistic evolution, or BioLogos, which is different to creationism- but is that really your one question?

    I’d say that god hasn’t given humans the ability to survive in space because if he did we’d never have had to take the opportunity to push our science, technology, engineering and vision to the heights required to keep ourselves alive in space.

    Being given a problem forces you to be ingenious to come up with a solution. So our physical limitations as a species let us think laterally and overcome.

    I suppose I’m wondering… how many limbs would satisfy you?

    You might as well ask, ‘If the McLaren F1 road car was intelligently designed, why wasn’t it built to drive under water and on the walls?’

    Try designing a more intelligent question next time! 😉 (OK, maybe you were just joking. Whatever.)

  5. prunusdulcis says:

    Hey NotAScientist,

    did you get my previous comment? I thought you would’ve ok’d it by now.

    Where’s the give and take in this relationship 😉 ?


  6. A. C. Baker says:

    I appreciate you commenting on my blog today. Just thought I would check yours out. Looks nice. I have heard about these little critters before, but cute? That would fall into the atheists’ category of choice, “all is relative.”

    Anyway, in answer to your question, if God (I use the capital “g”) did design us, then He must have had his reasons. The thing is, though, if the “IF” is true, and one entity was capable of even designing and creating the universe with all of its perceived flaws, however imperfect it seems, would that entity still not have to have far greater intelligence than us? If so, then could it be possible that what we perceive as an ill-designed universe could actually be less flawed than you suggest?

    Just say’n

  7. iheartfilm says:

    Hehehe, well, I wouldn’t call them cute, but they are pretty amazing.

  8. Hello Not A Scientist,
    OK, those bears are super-cute and remarkable “miracles” in my mind.
    I truly love prunusdulcis’ answer to your creationist question. I could not have said it better, but I will say this.
    The problem with Creationism is the simple fact that those who believe in it do so because any concept that differs from what the bible says is too terrifying to contemplate. I really do pity those like that because they really do miss out on the true wonder of the Universe, (like being blown away by Water Bears) which I think would be the opposite of what God intended.
    If you could somehow manage to take their religion away, which would be impossible and of course a terrifying violation of human rights… I suspect that they would just latch on to some other simplistic belief that doesn’t require much thought but helps them to feel safe.
    An example of this is that I know someone who has a fanatical faith in alternative medicine that goes so far that her 18 year old daughter has never been to a doctor since birth!
    Any scientific evidence that challenges her beliefs actually causes her anxiety.
    Trying to reason with her is impossible (I’ve been trying for 15 years). Sadly, some people are simply not capable of being reasonable.
    I treat it the same way as I would someone who through no fault of their own is just not intelligent.

  9. Luke Allison says:

    “If god intelligently designed humans, why didn’t he give us the power to survive in space?”

    I lean more towards theistic evolution as well (shhhh! don’t tell no one!), but since you’re asking, I’ll respond with a question: “What is the chief end of man, according to the Scriptures?” And, “What’s wrong with the world, according to the Scriptures?”
    Not asking you to even give the Scriptures credence, just to engage the questions.

  10. Pleroma says:

    I am a creationist, specifically a believer that this universe was created by the God of the Bible. And I find it incredible that you would ask such a question. It is quite obvious that since man has done such an excellent job of polluting and defiling the earth, God did not want us messing up any more of the universe than we already have. A better question would be why does He continue to let us survive here. That He has, and that we do, is indeed one of the great evidences of His kindness, grace, and mercy.

  11. marchmommie7 says:

    Hey, you commented on my post, so I’ll comment on yours. I really liked your post on tardigrades. I knew nothing about Water Bears and found myself googling more about them. Fascinating. And I agree, the picture is cute.
    As you could probably guess, I consider myself a Creationist but not a know-it-all about science. Not my forte but I enjoy learning more about it. So your question is why didn’t God make us to where we could survive in space…. Good question. I’ve never thought about that before because frankly I’m terrified of anything to do with space (too big…agoraphobia). Anywhoooo, I guess God didn’t create us to survive in space because there’s no need to. Is there a need to go explore the planets beyond us? Other than human curiosity, I’d say no. I suppose it does help to see how the other planets work and what they are made of etc. But maybe I’m just geocentric. I don’t really care much about space or other planets. I’d rather focus on this big beautiful earth full of Water Bears, Polar Bears, and Baylor Bears. But that’s just me. I know that’s not a good scientific reason but that’s like saying, why can’t we see through people’s clothes? It would come in handy, but it’s not really necessary. Feel free to stop by my blog again. I love healthy dialog with people with all viewpoints. Cheers.

  12. Nahraf says:

    While I accept evolution over Biblical Creationism, I don’t think a lack of survivability in space negates creationism. They would argue that we were created for what we are meant for, nothing more. The creationist would rebut that we are not meant by God to live in space or have 6 arms or whatever.

  13. “If god intelligently designed humans, why didn’t he give us the power to survive in space?”

    Can we already know for sure that we do not have the power to survive in space? Maybe with the right vehicle and equipment…

    But I recall the Bible saying that man would have dominion (only) upon Earth.

  14. @Jenny
    “If you could somehow manage to take their religion away…”

    Christianity is about a relation no about a religion. Does that seem different?

  15. F.T.L. says:

    We do have the power to survive in space. He gave us the knowledge and ability to build spaceships didn’t He?

  16. I’m glad you commented on my blog today. This post is fascinating. That little creature is amazing. I’ll definitely be back!

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