Bears from Mars

One of the more popular targets for amateur microscopists is the water bear. Water bears are sub-1mm animals and so peculiar that they belong to a phylum all of their own, the Tardigrada. The name means to walk slowly, a reference to their leisurely 8 legged gait. Water bears have a cuddly appearance, make a living by drinking plant sap, and are commonly found in moss and lichens. But don’t be fooled - in spite of their diminutive and somewhat absentminded appearance, water bears are polyextremophiles. That’s just a fancy word meaning to be fond of BASE-jumping, snowboarding and mountain biking off sheer cliff faces. Oh, no wait. It means that you can freeze them to just about absolute zero, pressure cook them at 150oC, blast them with a thousand times the dose of radiation that would fry you and I, fling them into the vacuum of space, and as an afterthought dessicate them completely for ease of storage. If, after a few years, you miss your pet water bears, just coax them back to life with some wet moss, and all is forgiven!

Why are waterbears so tough? Here’s an interesting thought … panspermia from our heavenly neighbour!


Polar bears are from Mars, cartesian bears are from Venus.

Why are waterbears so tough?

Cause … they’ve… got… the…

Bare necessities, the simple bare necessities, forget all your worries and your strife!

Seems as if these bears can bear to be bare (ouch, sorry). Hey! Maybe these are the aliens David Ike wrote about. They’ve got 8 legs and are really tough so this proves they are giving us all anal probes right now and we don’t even know it [insert eerie music please maestro]. We’ve seen the photos - hehe more irrefutable proof ;D

LOL! Good one! ;D

I try not to think too often about the origins of life because it makes me feel uneducated and generally confused. So stop me if I am wrong, but panspermia is that theory that says little bits of life exists all over the universe and that life on earth (and possibly elsewhere) could have originated and evolved through these? If that is the case then we seriously got the whole evolution thing wrong! Why would any species evolve from a cuddly tough basejumping kritter to the oversensitive little ninnies we are today?

btw BoogieMonster, my entire office now thinks I am certifyably insane as I burst out laughing really loudly when I read your post. ;D Highly entertaining!

Lilli, yes, that’s my understanding of what panspermia means too. If rocks from Mars do in fact occasionally fall on earth, it is quite conceivable that an animal of a water bear’s calibre may hitch a ride across.

HOWEVER, all species on earth are linked through their genetic code to all other life on earth, and also to a common ancestor. And this ancestor would have been much simpler in design than a water bear. Therefore, earthly life could not have originated from water bear stock ex Mars.


The value (and curse!) of panspermia as a scientific hypothesis is that it increases enormously the size and the scope of the stage of circumstances upon which abiogenesis could have played out. In a nutshell, it allows biochemists and biophysicists to investigate scenarios that need not have occurred on Earth at all, and may even have been impossible on our home planet.

Even if waterbears came to us via Mars, both planets may have been seeded with life from the same stock that came from farther afield.

And those “bear” Jungle Book necessities? Luvvem still, and thanks for the reminder! ;D


btw BoogieMonster, my entire office now thinks I am certifyably insane

That’s OK, I’m insane as well. But now I have that song in my head. Again.

Thanks for the explanation. Somehow I always had this idea that panspermia is one of the first things to happen to okes after they rescind their vows of celibacy… :o

This news just in.

Instant water bears - just add warm water!