Tardigrades are some of the toughest but least well-known creatures on our planet. These tiny animals, also called moss piglets or water bears, are definitely of this earth, but some can boast that they’ve also traveled to space.

They have been found in the fossil record as long ago as the middle of the Cambrian Period, over 500 million years ago, when complex animals were evolving. Over 1,000 species of tardigrade exist, in places as diverse as the depths of the ocean and the tops of the tallest mountains. For example, researchers have found them at ocean depths of over 10,000 feet — that’s… more

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