‘I hate to break it to you, but humans probably don’t have that much longer before we go extinct—somewhere between 100 years and 5 billion years, depending on who you ask. Obviously, a human extinction event is unprecedented and incredibly hard to predict with any sort of accuracy. But according to new research from physicists at Harvard and Oxford, one thing is nearly certain: long after humans are gone, the tardigrade will live on.
Also known as the waterbear, the tardigrade is an 8-legged “extremophile” micro-animal that grows up to 1.2 millimeters and is renowned for its ability to survive where every other complex living organism cannot. It can live for up to 60 years, is able to survive for 30 years without food or water, endure temperatures up to 300 F, and can even survive exposure to the vacuum of space.
With credentials like these, it’s no wonder that physicists predict the tardigrade will inherit the Earth—pretty much the only way to destroy it is if all of Earth’s oceans were to boil.