Scientists have different theories on the type of catastrophic event that could wipe out Earth’s population. Some researchers argue that it could be the sun burning out, while others believe humans will go out the way the dinosaur did — by asteroid. So the next question is obviously what organism could survive such an event? Why, a tardigrade, of course.
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Tardigrades are nearly impossible to kill. It was reported by IFL Science that these organisms can live for over 30 years without food or water. Tardigrades are a water-dwelling organism better known as a Moss Piglet or a water bear. If they can live without food or water, what could possibly kill them?
The three events that could kill the tardigrades are a large asteroid impact, a supernovae, or a gamma-ray burst. Various reports from NASA put the large asteroid possibility to rest as there are only a handful of asteroids or dwarf planets that could obliterate the earth, none of which are not in our orbit. Sorry, Armageddon fans.
And there’s a better chance that an asteroid would hit us than the possibility of a star exploding and boiling all the water on our planet.
According to Washington Post, a supernovae would have to take place within 0.14 light-years. What makes this situation nearly implausible is that the nearest star that could cause that kind of damage is the Sun (but that’s a story for another time). And the next nearest star other than the sun is over four light-years away.
Scientist toyed with the possibility of gamma-ray bursts, but this occurrence is rarer than a supernovae. With all that said, we can conclude that unless the sun burns out, which isn’t expected to happen for another five billion years, the water bear will still be here for the foreseeable future.
Dr. Rafael Alves Batista, the co-author of a paper published in Scientific Reports, has a newfound respect for the Tardigrades.
“Tardigrades are as close to indestructible as it gets on Earth, but it is possible that there are other resilient species examples elsewhere in the universe,” he said. “In this context, there is a real case for looking for life on Mars and in other areas of the solar system in general. If Tardigrades are Earth’s most resilient species, who knows what else is out there.”