Tardigrades, also known as “water bears,” are microscopic animals capable of withstanding some of the most severe environmental conditions. Researchers from Japan have now created the most accurate picture yet of the tardigrade genome, revealing the neat tricks it uses to stay alive.
In a new study published in Nature Communications, geneticist Takekazu Kunieda and his colleagues from the University of Tokyo present a genetic analysis of Ramazzottius variornatus, arguably the toughest and most resilient species found in the entire tardigrade clan. Their results show that tardigrades have evolved a unique arsenal of strategies to cope with stressful conditions, including a protein that protects its DNA from radiation damage.
When the researchers transplanted this protein to cultured human cells, the same protections still applied—a finding with potential applications to cellular preservation methods, genomic therapies, and the burgeoning science of transgenics.
It’s white. It’s hairy. It’s elusive. It’s a yeti … crab. Meet Kiwa tyleri, the newest member of the yeti crab family and the first to be found in the cold waters off Antarctica.
Unlike its Abominable Snowman namesake, this clawed crustacean ranges in length from half a foot (15 centimeters) to under an inch (0.5 centimeter). It’s only the third known species of yeti crab, a group of shaggy-armed creatures first discovered in the South Pacific in 2005. (Related picture: “‘Yeti Crab’ Discovered in Deep Pacific.”)
In search of the new yeti, in 2010 scientists piloted a remotely operated vehicle to the hydrothermal vents of East Scotia Ridge, more than 8,500 feet (2,600 meters) deep.
There, they found thriving communities of yeti crab, which live in environments harsher than any of their relatives.
The colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, from Greek mesos (middle), onycho (claw, nail), and teuthis (squid)), sometimes called the Antarctic or giant cranch squid, is believed to be the largest squid species in terms of mass. It is the only known member of the genus Mesonychoteuthis. It is known from only a few specimens, and current estimates put its maximum size at 12–14 m (39–46 ft) long and weighing possibly up to 750 kg (1,650 lb), based on analysis of smaller and immature specimens, making it the largest known invertebrate.