They may not be the biggest, fastest or cutest animals, but waterbears may just be the toughest residents on our planet. They can survive temperatures ranging from 300 degrees to -459 degrees Fahrenheit, live for nearly a decade without water; and even survive being exposed to the vacuum of outer space! It’s not surprising then that waterbears can be found virtually everywhere on earth, from 13,000 feet below the surface of the ocean to some of the highest Himalayan peaks.
Although there are well over 1,000 species of waterbears, they aren’t animals you’ll be able to see too easily. Most are less than one millimeter long, and are actually kind of cute for what they are. The name “waterbear” comes from the way these eight-legged creatures amble along with a gait that resembles that of a bear. Their scientific name, Tardigrada, literally means “slow walker”.