Jamie Morton is the NZ Herald's science reporter.

Science & Tech: The big sleep

Photo / Getty Images
Photo / Getty Images

They already had a reputation for being indestructible, but the tiny micro-animals we know as water bears just did something that still managed to wow scientists.

Two of the 0.2mm-long creatures, and a separate egg, were able to be revived after being frozen for more than 30 years.

Clinging to a sample of moss taken from Antarctica, they'd been stored at a temperature of -20C since 1983.

The tiny water-dwelling beings, also known as tardigrades, are able to temporarily shut down their metabolic activities when induced by freezing and other stimuli, in what's called cryptobiosis.

Yet they don't hold the longest record for an organism waking up after a long icy sleep: one species of nematode managed to survive frozen for 39 years.

- NZ Herald

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