The One Creature Capable of Successfully Enduring Lethal Ultraviolet Radiation

For humans, exposure to ultraviolet radiation can cause liver spots, wrinkles, leathery skins, eye problems like burning the cornea, and other significant health problems. But once again, scientists are discovering creatures in the animal world that are capable of avoiding pretty much any damage that ultraviolet radiation could cause.

A newly discovered species of tardigrade seems to possess superpowers when it comes to exposure to ultraviolet radiation. The culprits for the discovery are a bunch of scientists from India having the biochemist Sandeep Eswarappa from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore as a co-author.

The newfound tardigrade uses fluorescence as a defense method

Tardigrades are also known as water bears or moss piglets, even though they’re extremely small. Despite these creatures being microscopic animals, they’re capable of tolerating incredibly rough conditions, like low temperatures, radiation, the vacuum of space, and more. But one specific type of tardigrades is now baffling scientists: the tardigrades that glow in a blue aura when they’re exposed to ultraviolet light. They further use fluorescence as a protective shield.

But the newfound tardigrades are using their protective shield at an even unprecedented level, as UV radiation known to kill other organisms are useless against them.

“After UV radiation treatment, tardigrades were observed daily for signs of life—active movement and egg laying,” said the authors in their study.

“There was no significant change in the number of eggs laid, their hatchability and the hatching time, between UV-treated and untreated Paramacrobiotus BLR specimens.”

Tardigrades have been found in many areas: mountaintops, deep sea, mud volcanoes, tropical rainforests, and so on. These creatures are a phylum of water-dwelling eight-legged segmented micro-animals. Tardigrades were first described by Johann August Ephraim Goeze in 1773, who was a German zoologist. In 1777, the Italian biologist Lazzaro Spallanzani named tardigrades as Tardigrada, which means “slow steppers”.

The new study paper was published in Biology Letters.

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