Researchers revived two water bears that have been frozen for 30 years and one of them survived. Tardigrades or ‘water bears’ were retrieved from frozen moss sample collected in Antarctica in 1983. Since that time the sample has been stored at -20 C for three decades.
Water bears or moss piglets are tiny water-dwelling organisms, segmented, measure 1 mm in length and have eight legs. This rare creature did not only survive its icy prison, but it laid 19 eggs – 14 of them successfully hatched.
There were two water bears resuscitated but unfortunately one of them died after 20 days. The second one, according to Telegraph went on to successfully reproduce with a third specimen hatched from a frozen egg.
The water bears can be found in different parts of the world and can survive extreme pressure, for example underwater and are able to survive in the vacuum space for few days. Once these creatures get frozen they enter a so called cryptobiosis state, which means their metabolic processes shut down and show no visible signs of life at all.
The last survival record for adult tardigrades under frozen conditions lasted for eight years, and another study claimed that the maximum limit for survival under normal atmospheric oxygen conditions was only 10 years.
National Institute of Polar Research plans to work on examining damage to the water bear’s genes and their recovery functions can provide a better understanding of its long term survival mechanism.
But the tardigrades still didn’t beat the record for surviving in the frozen state, it still belongs to the nematode worm that managed around 39 years.