“Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures”
Years ago, I had the privilege of going to Antarctica twice to do scientific research in freshwater ecology. My specialty was the “lifestyle” of single-celled animals called protozoa. Spending hours looking through a microscope, it was always a welcome distraction to see a multi-celled invertebrate swim through the field of view. In Antarctic lakes that was usually a tardigrade, affectionately called “water bears,” which look like a gummy bear with six clawed legs and a barely noticeable head.
An obvious question is, “How do they survive in the harsh environment of the South Pole when the water they live in is frozen solid and in darkness for months each year?” The answer is stranger than fiction. Under stress, it curls into a ball and enters a state of cryptobiosis in which it dehydrates to 3% of its normal moisture content and all its metabolic processes shut down. To prevent cellular damage, it then releases special proteins which harden around its molecules and cells, a process called vitrification.
It is now ready to face the “cruel” world of a polar winter. In that “tun” state (resembling a lifeless cask) it can tolerate temperature extremes of -450 to +300 degrees F. They can live in this tun state for thirty years without food or water. They can endure pressures of 96,000 psi and survive the vacuum of space. When conditions are again hospitable, they can become active – for me to see in the eyepiece of my microscope!
But now ask the beasts and let them teach you… that the hand of the Lord has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing (Job 12:7-10).
Source: Answers Magazine, April-June, 2022, page 48