15 August 2008

Name that animal - round 13 answer

I haven't stumped the chumps since the amoeba case in round 6 back in June. The round 13 critter, pictured at left (image credit here) was a model of a tardigrade, or "water bear." They are distributed worldwide from mountaintops to the deep sea, but are most commonly recovered by soaking a piece of lichen or moss in water.

The clue I had offered about the creature theoretically being found on Mars relates to the water bear's amazing physiology:
* Temperature — tardigrades can survive being heated for a few minutes to 151°C or being chilled for days at -200°C, or for a few minutes at -272°C. (1° warmer than absolute zero).
* Pressure — they can withstand the extremely low pressure of a vacuum and also very high pressures, many times greater than atmospheric pressure. It has recently been proven that they can survive in the vacuum of space…
* Dehydration - tardigrades have been shown to survive nearly one decade in a dry state…
There is a blog devoted specifically to "Tardigrades in Space."

No new critter this week; I need to catch up on other chores.

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