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There are a lot of stories concerning the survivability of this well known (and often reviled) insect. It’s said they can survive a nuclear war and inherit the Earth. Hopefully, we’ll never have to verify that one. But they do exhibit a tolerance to radiation that is much greater than that of most vertebrates. They can go for weeks on end without nourishment … and are known to live for weeks after being decapitated. And let’s face it, roaches have been around for more than 300 million years, even outlasting the dinosaurs. Whether it’s Arctic cold or tropical heat, these critters can survive and thrive.
#4 Spinoloricus Cinziae (Spin-OH-lare-ih-kus Chin-zee-uh)
There’s one thing that almost all animals need in order to survive in any environment — oxygen Except when it comes to this little beast. Discovered in 2010, this microscopic organism is the only critter found in the animal kingdom that actually thrives in an anoxic environment … or a habitat lacking oxygen. It lives some 2.5 miles deep below the surface of the Mediterranean Sea in an area referred that is identified as a Dead Zone … or an area devoid of oxygen. Instead of generating energy with oxygen, these animals have organelles which can provide energy to certain single-celled anaerobic organisms.
#3 The Slithering Dead (Rattlesnakes)
Rattlesnakes are pit vipers that can live in a variety of habitats, although we often associate them with harsher, desert environments. In fact, the majority of rattlers do live in the American Southwest and in Mexico. Their fangs, of course, impart a hemotoxic venom that can cause necrosis and paralysis. And along with surviving scorching desert environments, rattlesnakes seem able to overcome conditions that are even more extreme: Like death. The picture of a rattlesnake head might appear to be a computer generated image, or something from a movie. But it’s actually the severed head of a rattlesnake that kept attempting to bite the man who chopped its noggin off. The zombie-like snake head made like the slithering dead and kept snapping its venom-dripping fangs at the man before finally expiring. Experts say that the severed head of a rattler can still deliver a venomous bite until about an hour after it’s been decapitated!
#2 The High Life – Himalayan Jumping Spider
At some 5,100 meters (16,732 ft) above sea level, La Rinconada in Peru is the world’s highest permanent settlement. But there’s a small arachnid which can beat that record. The Himalayan Jumping Spider lives at elevations upwards of 22,000 feet … quite possibly making a case for the world’s highest residency. The spiders have been documented inhabiting rocky terrain surrounded by ice and snow on a permanent basis. Experts say they feed on insects blown onto mountain slopes by the wind. But how do you think the spiders got way up there in the first place? 22,000 feet would be quite a jump!
#1 Tough As Glass (Tardigrade)
Also known as Water Bears, Tardigrades seem to be creatures that many of us admire for their sheer toughness. They can survive extreme heat and cold temperatures … and can even thrive in outer space! Not only that, but the tiny critters can even withstand being dehydrated for up to 10 years. All this, and they’re only a few micrometers long! Researchers have recently found that their knack for survival stems from a unique set of proteins they carry … which have been termed, “Tardigrade Specific Intrinsically Disordered Proteins … or TDPs. While water is abundant, the proteins have a structure similar to jelly … but when the critters dry out, the proteins morph into a glassy shield, protecting the animal’s sensitive materials, and enabling them to survive. Tardigrades have been around for more than a half-billion years … and can be found from mountaintops, to the deep seas, to the Antarctic!