Long after humans on the planet have been wiped out, “water bears”, a tiny, eight-legged animal officially called a tardigrade, will persist, the researchers decided.
Scientists have identified what they believe will be the last form of life on Earth that will survive until the sun dies. Long after humans on the planet have been wiped out, "water bears", a tiny, eight-legged animal officially called a tardigrade, will persist, the researchers decided. Despite a range of cataclysmic events that could put an end to our species — such as a large asteroid strike or a nearby exploding star — none would be serious enough to completely eradicate all life. And the tardigrade deemed to be Earth's ultimate survivor.
The famously hardy and arguably quite cute animal, which grows to a maximum length of half a millimetre, can live for up to 30 years without food or water, endure temperatures of up to 150 degrees and is so at home in the frozen vacuum of space that it has been known to mate.
One of the researchers, Dr David Sloan, of Oxford University, said: "A lot of previous work has focused on 'doomsday' scenarios on Earth — astrophysical events like supernovae that could wipe out the human race. Our study instead considered the hardiest species — the tardigrade. As we are now entering a stage of astronomy where we have seen exoplanets and are hoping to soon perform spectroscopy, looking for signatures of life, we should try to see just how fragile this hardiest life is.