The tiny tardigrade, also known as the moss piglet, doesn't let its size stand in the way of its magnificence. No larger than the head of a pin, the tardigrade has proved to be one of nature's toughest survivors. Laboratory experimenters have immersed it in liquid helium down to a savage -272 degrees Celsius. They have left it at -192 degrees Celsius for 20 months, and cooked it for a week at 92 degrees Celsius in ether, alcohol and other noxious chemicals. Restored to normal temperature and given water, the tardigrade strolls away. Some specimens were brought back to life after 120 years in a dry and dusty museum.
Obviously the tardigrade has abilities human beings lack. Tardigrades dwell in mud, damp seashore sand, or on the water film surrounding the leaves of mosses and lichens. Some varieties are entirely aquatic. Zoologically they fall somewhere between worms and insects and can move about by wriggling on four pairs of stubby legs. There are tardigrades worldwide except in the tropics and Antarctica. A single gram of dried moss has been known to yield 22,000 of them.
Since 2007, tardigrades have also returned alive from studies in which they were exposed to the vacuum of outer space for a few days in low earth orbit. My guess is that the tardigrades will be around long after the homo sapiens make the world uninhabitable for their own species.
How does this soft-bodied creature have the unique ability to switch itself off and on under extreme circumstances--enabling it to spread a normal lifespan of 18 months over some 60 years? How does this armored arthropod last so long? One reason may be its shape--an oval or ellipse, and its series of flexible shell-like body pieces.
More cool lessons from nature's superior design are available here. I won't hesitate to confess that much of this was copied from TSUI Design and Research's interesting page. See for thineself.