Build a lesson around any TED-Ed Animation, TED Talk or YouTube video
Create a Lesson

Meet the tardigrade, the toughest animal on Earth - Thomas Boothby

  • 2,331,537 Views
  • 3,058 Questions Answered
  • TEDEd Animation

Let’s Begin…

Without water, a human can only survive for about 100 hours. But there’s a creature so resilient that it can go without it for decades. This 1-millimeter animal can survive both the hottest and coldest environments on earth, and can even withstand high levels of radiation. Thomas Boothby introduces us to the tardigrade, one of the toughest creatures on Earth.

Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animation lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Thomas Boothby
  • Director Rémi Cans
  • Script Editor Emma Bryce
  • Sound Designer Erwann Chandon
  • Composer Erwann Chandon
  • Associate Producer Jessica Ruby
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

Share

Additional Resources for you to Explore
Tardigrades are an ancient group of animals. The earliest fossil evidence of tardigrades dates to over 500 million years ago. There are around 1,200 species of tardigrades that have been discovered, and new species are still being discovered. There are two main lineages, eutardigrades, which live mainly on land, and heterotardigrades, some of which live on land while others live in marine environments. Marine tardigrades are not known to be desiccation tolerant, while this is common in eutardigrades and some terrestrial heterotardigrades.

Tardigrades are renowned for their ability to survive a number of extreme stresses, such as drying, freezing, irradiation, and even the vacuum of outer space, but this might not actually be the weirdest thing about them. In 2016, Dr. Frank Smith discovered that tardigrades are essentially “walking heads,” with bodies made up of segments that are homologous to the head segments of their cousins, the arthropods (e.g., insects and crustaceans).

Tardigrades can be found almost anywhere, from Antarctica to your own backyard. It is thought that tardigrades get to all these different places by being swept up by wind currents when they are dry and then deposited somewhere far away. If you have a microscope, it is actually fairly easy to find your own wild tardigrades.

Different tardigrade species reproduce in different ways. Some species have males and females that reproduce sexually, while other species do not have males--females produce eggs that do not need to be fertilized to develop.


Image: Water bear (tardigrade), Hypsibius dujardini, scanning electron micrograph by Bob Goldstein and Vicky Madden. UNC Chapel Hill, May 2008. 

Customize This Lesson

Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animation lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Thomas Boothby
  • Director Rémi Cans
  • Script Editor Emma Bryce
  • Sound Designer Erwann Chandon
  • Composer Erwann Chandon
  • Associate Producer Jessica Ruby
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

Share

Log In to Take or Create a Lesson

Log In to participate

Please Log In or Register to Apply

Please Log in to Access Leader Resources

If you have already logged into ted.com click Log In to verify your authentication. Click Register if you need to create a free TED-Ed account.
Log In    Register

Enter your name

Your name and responses will be shared with TED Ed.

To track your work across TED-Ed over time, Register or Login instead.