CBS Local — There’s a theory that cockroaches would be able to survive a nuclear explosion, but they aren’t the species that scientists say will be the last to survive on earth. Researchers from Oxford University and Harvard University declared that tardigrades would likely be the last surviving species on Earth.

The tardigrade is an eight-legged microscopic water animal that reaches just half a millimeter in size. They are referred to as a “water bear”, can survive temperatures of 300 degrees Fahrenheit, and can go 30 years without food or drink.

Researchers say they can even outlive the sun.

“A lot of previous work has focused on ‘doomsday’ scenarios on Earth – astrophysical events like supernovae that could wipe out the human race,” said lead author David Sloan, via Oxford. “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 the hardiest life is.”

Researchers conclude that essentially the only way to eliminate tardigrades is through oceans boiling up. This gives them hope that, maybe, similarly resilient life on Mars exists.

“Tardigrades are as close to indestructible as it gets on Earth, but it is possible that there are other resilient species examples elsewhere in the universe,” said co-author Rafael Alves Batista. “In this context there is a real case for looking for life on Mars and in other areas of the solar system in general. If tardigrades are Earth’s most resilient species, who knows what else is out there.”


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