Sleeping beauties. Tardigrades can put life on pause if they are frozen
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These unique creatures have long been known for their unique ability to withstand extreme conditions. But this is something new.
Tardigrades are microscopic invertebrates that move slowly through underwater plants. These tiny creatures have long established themselves as creatures that are simply impossible to kill. But they never cease to amaze scientists, demonstrating more and more new abilities, writes New Atlas.
In earlier studies, scientists have already figured out that these creatures, also known as water bears, are able to withstand extreme temperatures – from incredibly low to boiling point. They are also able to withstand incredible pressure and even survive in the vacuum of space. It would seem, what else can they surprise scientists with? It turned out that there is something.
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In a new study, scientists decided to test another unique ability of tardigrades – namely, the ability to put life on pause. Scientists from the University of Stuttgart conducted a series of experiments to study the so-called “Sleeping Beauty” effect. Earlier studies have shown that water bears owe their unique vitality to the ability to fall into anhydrobiosis. These unique creatures are able to survive for years without water.
Scientists have already established that tardigrades are able to enter a reversible state of suspended animation. In the absence of water, their set of proteins combine to form so-called protective threads that guard cells from stress during dehydration.
In a new study, scientists have gone further and were able to establish that tardigrades are capable of not only anabiosis, but actually put your biological clock on pause.
In a new study, scientists studied the behavior of five hundred tardigrades. They were divided into two groups: the first was thawed and frozen, and so on in a circle until all the creatures died, the second was kept at normal temperature.
Research showed that frozen tardigrades lived twice as long. Moreover, when the scientists took away the time spent in cryobiosis, the lifespan of the animals was the same in both groups. Thus, scientists have found that tardigrades are actually able to pause their biological clock and stop aging.
The author of the study, Ralph Schill, believes that in this way these creatures are able to live not for several months without rest breaks, but for years , or even decades, periodically putting their lives on pause.