When the Sun turns into a red giant and swells to consume the Earth in a fiery death, we can be sure that there will be at least one living creature to experience the destruction. Able to survive the crushing pressures of both the deep-sea and the freezing vacuum of the space, the adorable tardigrades will outlive us all.
Due to the near impossibility to actually kill a tardigrade, which can survive for a fairly impressive 30 years without food or water, researchers looked into cataclysmic events that could potentially cause all life forms – including tardigrades – to be wiped out. They suggest boiling oceans may be what it takes. They identified three events that could cause this kind of event: large asteroid impact, supernovae, or a gamma-ray burst.
They found that there are only a handful of known asteroids and dwarf planets that have enough mass that if they were to hit Earth, they would boil the sea. The closest of these is the asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Pluto, but the orbit of both of these mean that they are unlikely to intercept Earth before the Sun dies.
Tardigrades will be the last surviving species on Earth and could live through any doomsday event, scientists have claimed.
Also known as water bears, tardigrades can survive for up to 30 years without food or water and are the toughest creatures on Earth.
Now a new study by Oxford University has found the hardy micro-animals will exist for at least 10 billion years and could live through an asteroid strike or the impact of a close-by exploding star.
The research was designed to determine the extreme conditions under which life might die on Earth – and it could have implications for finding life elsewhere in the solar system.
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