Can You Kill A Tardigrade?

Sometimes the biggest difference between a scientist and a serial killer is the species of the victim. It probably also helps that an insatiable hunger for knowledge sounds like a way better alibi than the thirsty pursuit of a skin suit. If Mother Nature directed a Saw movie, the blood-chilling villain would be a scientist subjecting captive animals to prolonged, torturous deaths in absurd scenarios for the sake of learning how tough it is to kill that creature.

Take the olm, which Gizmodo describes as a blind, "near-eyeless" cave salamander. A researcher discovered that olms can survive for over a decade without food after keeping one in a refrigerator for 12 years without feeding it. But the Oscar for most outlandish torture sequence in a laboratory horror film goes to tardigrades .

I am become deathless

More endearingly known as "water bears" and "moss piglets," tardigrades are water-dwelling micro-cuties that usually measure less than a half a millimeter long, per Live Science. While they have a natural life span of about two and a half years, when placed in extreme environments, tardigrades demonstrate a remarkable ability to enter a state of "suspended animation" known as a "tun” state. The process entails pulling in their little limbs, contracting their bodies, halting their metabolisms, and presumably blaring the Highlander theme.

Because they're so impressively death-resistant, water bears have been forced to bear being boiled for an hour at 303.8 degrees Fahrenheit (151 Celsius). They've survived being frozen at minus 328 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 200 degrees Celsius), frozen in Antarctica for 30 years. But make no mistake: scientists have ways of murdering them.

When moss piglets fry

If John McClane, Stuntman Mike, and Grigori Rasputin somehow made a baby together, that improbable offspring might not be as diehard or death-proof as tardigrades. Given the litany of extremes they've survived, you might imagine that researchers will find a way to kill these creatures once hell freezes over and the Hotel California releases the Eagles. Tardigrades won't even die when pigs fly because these moss piglets survived flying into space. When moss piglets fry, on the other hand...

As Live Science details, Tardigrades creatures can't take prolonged periods of heat. If you boil water bears for an hour at temperatures exceeding 300 hundred degrees Fahrenheit, that might not do the trick. But if you subject them to 104 degrees for hours or days at a time, significant numbers will drop like flies. The animal's durability partly depends on its ability to acclimate to ambient heat. Tardigrades in the tun state have a better shot at survival and require higher temperatures to kill them quickly. But even that won't save the moss piglet's bacon forever. After 24 hours in 145.6-degree heat, nearly half the tun-state tardigrades studied died.