EXTRAORDINARY ANIMALS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM
THE GREAT SURVIVORS IN HOSTILE ENVIRONMENTS
The prehistoric mammoth is one of the most amazing extinct animals that ever existed. In his hemoglobin, red blood cells allowed oxygen to be released even at very low temperatures.
But it is not the only animal that has surprised us in this regard, there are nowadays, astonishing animals for their exceptional ability to adapt in extreme environmental conditions.
This is the case of some types of Antarctic octopuses, which also have a protein in their hemoglobin, like that of the mammoth, hemocyanin, that allows oxygen to be released into the tissues even at extremely low temperatures. Some fish from the Antarctic sea and a species of beetle living in Alaska have also developed a similar adaptation system.
THE RED BEETLE
This bright red or faint beetle lives in North America, usually between the ash and bark of dead poplars. A habitat too cold for the survival of an animal with insect characteristics.
However, Cucujus clavipes has developed various physiological mechanisms to survive in these adverse conditions, changing their mechanisms of hibernation. It is believed that could withstand up to – 37 ° C.
Studies in this regard relate dehydration to the ability to resist freezing. It is precisely the case of this peculiar beetle. Which purposely causes extreme dehydration.
This beetle when feeling the low temperatures start to produce AFP proteins and glycolipids AFGL antifreeze causing a diapause. The absence of freezing indicates that their AFPs are capable of inhibiting ice nucleators. The AFP decrease the temperature at which the ice crystal grows.
The research also showed that with constant temperatures, beetles with higher water content are more likely to freeze from there than before. In addition, curiously, this beetle can have greater tolerance to freezing in a specific year depending on the tolerance it had in previous years. So there is a correlation between the hyper cooling point SCP and the lowest lethal temperature .
THE WORM THAT RESISTS EVERYTHING
The sulfincola Paralvinella is just 1 mm annelid living in deep ocean waters where the water temperature would kill most terrestrial animals and in humid environments with vegetation.
It is believed that he appeared in the Precambrian and then had even more terrestrial habits, also known as the ” fog worm ” because of his extremely slow movements.
This invertebrate animal can measure from 0.05 to 1.5 millimeters in length and have 8 legs. It is pale gray with red gills on the head that look like tentacles, moves with extreme slowness.
There is no more than 600 million years, live in water or in wet areas such as mosses and ferns and you can find it in both hydrothermal depths and land areas around the world.
Its scientific name is Pompeii worm is an extremophile, specifically a hyperthermophile. This worm is extremely strange, they live anywhere in the world where there is water, from the Himalayas at 6,000 meters of altitude, to hydrothermal vents in the depths of the Pacific Ocean, more than 4,000 meters deep. As also under the ice of the glaciers and in the equator. It can be found on beaches, dunes, rivers and lakes.
It was discovered in the 18th century by Protestant pastors, Johann August Ephraim Goeze of Germany and Johann Conrad Eichhorn in Poland. Both fans of zoology. The first to observe these animals was Eichhorn in 1767 but he did not publish his discovery until 1781, when by 1773 Goeze had published the first description of these microscopic eight-legged animals.
These animals can endure and survive in the most extreme conditions, usually live in humid environments, mosses, lichens or ferns, although they also inhabit water courses both salted like in oceans and seas, but also sweets like in rivers and lakes.
They do not have a circulatory system or respiration, the exchange of gases does it through the surface of their body.
Some studies have investigated the relationship that these animals have with bacteria that are sometimes classified in the back of it.
The strange thing is that they seem to maintain a symbiotic relationship with this type of bacteria that inhabit their backs. The worm, through small glands on its back, secretes a substance that supposedly feeds the bacteria.
The first investigations, suggested that instead of food these bacteria act as an insulating layer that protect him from the high temperatures of water, but was not convincing, since themselves are able to withstand alone even adverse environments.
Furthermore, these allied bacteria are chemo lithotrophic, that is, they are also capable of living in strictly mineral media, they obtain energy from chemical reactions with an inorganic base. Other more recent research suggests, probably more correctly, that these bacteria could also be a source of nutrition for worms.
Although it can survive decades without water or food and oxygen and withstand extreme temperatures from – 200 ° C to 15 0 ° C, plus radiation from outer space and solar ultraviolet radiation and 6,000 atmospheres of pressure, the more surprising is the way he does it.
That is, when the environmental conditions exceed the limit to be able to live, it enters a state of cryptobiosis, stops its metabolic processes and waits indefinitely until conditions are adapted for life. This step to the cryptobiosis in progressive, usually does not take place with abrupt environmental changes.
This extraordinary resistance to survive in extreme environments is possible thanks to two main things: they are able to repair their own DNA and can also reduce their water content from 85% in normal conditions to only 3%.
That is to say dehydrating, and in this process of dehydration the lost water is replaced with a sugar called tre halosa, which prevents the destruction of cellular structures and a glycerin that protects it from external adversities.
They checked it during the investigation of one of the water bears found in the South Pole in cryptobiosis since 1983, after 30 years, He came back to life in January 2016. It is believed that it could have a half-life of 200 years under normal conditions.
It is also the only known animal that can survive in the vacuum of outer space.
In September 2007, the European Russian FOTON-M3 probe took some dehydrated tardigrades exposing them to vacuum and solar ultraviolet radiation, 70% of them survived. NASA also found in 2011 on a space mission. Its high resistance to radiation levels remained what s life throughout the experiment.
Another point of interest in this exceptional animal is its genome. The genome of the water bear possesses proteins that could protect human cells from the damaging effects of X-rays.
The results of the research on the genome of the water bear were published in Nature Communications. Investigations are conducted to determine if these proteins could also be effective as a shield against the genetic alterations of human cells, as well as in the case of cancer.
The first sequence deciphered from his genome initially assumed that much of its DNA came from other species. This was surprising news, an animal mixed, with parts of DNA from various animals.
What is called in science, horizontal transfer of genes and that it was thought could be the cause of this wonderful combination of adaptation resources. However, later investigations denied this relationship and confirmed that its extraordinary ability to adapt to hostile environments is mainly due to its high tolerance to stress.
Obviously, the water worm, due to its unusual characteristics, is the perfect candidate chosen by the space agencies to be the passenger of exception in the next inter-coastal missions.
THE ANT OF THE SAHARA DESERT
This amazing ant is adapted to live in dry and hot environments. Five species of the Cataglyphis live precisely in the Sahara desert, although others of their species are also found in other places, such as Russia, Turkey and Spain.
The “desert ant” as is also known, is bicolor, it can withstand temperatures up to 50 ° C. So, it is adapted to survive in desert environments, in fact usually feed on other insects killed by excessive heat.
But most surprising is its guidance system. Most ants have pheromones to orient themselves, however this ant is oriented by the direction and distance traveled in relation to the sun. To put it in another way, count the steps taken.
THE FOX OF RÜPPELL
It is named after the expert naturalist in the desert nature, German Eduard Rüppell, its scientific name is Vulpes rueppellii, but it is called sand fox. It inhabits North Africa and Western Asia.
It is adapted to live in very warm places, so live in desert areas like Morocco or Afghanistan where the temperature can reach and normally exceed 45 ° C. It is one of the smallest of its kind. It can measure up to 52 cm long and weighs on average only 1.7 kg. He has developed hair between the pads of the base of the legs, which allows you to better distribute weight and move swiftly in the sand. Also, it avoids burning when the desert sand burning. It has large ears that allow it to cool more quickly.
Seek your food alone. Normally based on insects, but also eat roots, tubers, reptiles, eggs and small mammals.
Live in dens dug in the ground under some stone or tree. Usually it changes of burrow when it perceives some danger in the surroundings. The 2 or 3 puppies that usually have each female are born underground with heat and predators.
THE SPIDER JUMPER OF HIMALAYA
This small but intrepid spider, Euophrys omnisuperstes, which means that “it is above all”. Live at altitudes of up to 6,700 meters on Everest. So, it is one of the few animals that lives at higher altitude.
It takes refuge among the rocks and feeds on microorganisms that in turn have been nourished by vegetable debris transported by the wind from the lower areas.
It is another wonderful animal for its adaptation to arid areas where the temperature can easily exceed 45 ° C. Also, called Bandicoot rabbit or Macrotis lagotis, it is a species of pear– shaped marsupial. Live in arid areas of Australia. It is a nocturnal animal, it rests in its burrow during the day in the hottest hours. Usually change the territory according to the possibility of nourishment.
It has big ears, strong legs and claws with which it can dig burrows where it takes refuge from the extreme heat during the day. He has a very developed sense of hearing and smell. Females have a marsupial bag that opens from below in this way, preventing it from filling up with sand when it digs.
It was a very common animal, it populated a large part of the semi-arid plains of Australia. In the twentieth century, there was a sudden worrisome decrease. The colonization of these areas with ranching and industrial systems have seriously damaged their habitat putting their existence in great danger. In addition, it also started the massive uncontrolled hunting of the Bilby for its skin.
The nocturnal parrot, also called Pezoporus occidentalis , is endemic to Australia . It has adapted to arid habitats where the daytime temperature can reach 45 ° C.
It is an animal of stealthy and nocturnal habits when the temperature is more bearable. Usually it inhabits the areas where the Triodia which eats grass seeds from it and spreads growing by arid hinterland of Australia. But he always lives near some source of water. It is a small bird with yellowish green plumage like the common ones of more temperate zones but with the shorter tail.
It is one of the most mysterious birds in the world, it cannot be seen easily and its sightings have been rare, very sporadic and minimal. In 2013 photographer John Young after 17,000 hours and 15 years managed to take a few photos and 17 seconds of video of the night parrot in western Queensland.
The exact number of nocturnal parrots is unknown, but according to the IUCN it is estimated that the adult population of the nocturnal parrots is estimated at 50 to a maximum of 248 individuals, which is why it is included in the IUCN list as an endangered species. critical of extinction.
THE SHARK OF GREENLAND
Also called boreal shark. Although live an average of 272 years, you can live up to 400 years, surpassing the previous record of the bowhead whale, so it is considered the world’s oldest vertebrate. Only the clam of Iceland that has lived up to 507 years exceeds it.
From a research published in the journal Science in 2016 from the University of Copenhagen, the life cycle of boreal shark could reach 512 years. But no specimen of this age has been found.
The study of the lens of the eye with the analysis of carbon 14 of the 28 females of shark captured by accident determined the age of the longest in 392 years and was already 5.02 meters long, being the longest shark found.
Its surprising longevity can be due to its slow development, grows approximately one centimeter per year and can take about 150 years to reach sexual maturity. As explained by the director of the Department of Stem Cells and Aging at the University Hospital of Santiago de Compostela: “ at such low temperatures metabolism, cellular and tissue activity is much lower, we could say that everything is slowed down and therefore the passage of time is slower. ”
The somniosus microcephalus is one of the largest sharks that exist, can reach up to 7 meters in length. Its common habitat is the North Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic Ocean, near Greenland and Iceland. But it has also been seen in the waters of the south, the sea near Argentina and Antarctica.
In addition to its long life, the Greenland shark is formidable for many other reasons, one of which is that its natural habitat is in the polar abyss, in depths of up to 2,000 meters.
He is known as the ” sleeping shark, ” because he moves very slowly almost immobile. He is almost blind, since he spends most of his life in water as deep as it is dark, but also for a curious reason: he usually lives with a parasite , the Ommatokoita elongata , which is installed in the cornea of his eye , feeding on his ocular tissue, which undoubtedly causes partial blindness.
This parasite is a bioluminescent animal so apparently, it can also have a symbiotic function since it attracts other animals towards the shark as a decoy.
As we already know, sharks also have an exceptional sense of smell, being able to feel their prey miles away, even the remains of animals that have been trapped by the thick layer of ice.
Although the raw meat of the Greenland shark is slightly poisonous, due to the presence of a toxin that causes a sensation of extreme drunkenness, it continues its capture for human consumption, considered a delicacy in some zone cultures.
The follow – up study of the northern shark by the Greenland Shark and Elasmobranch Education and Research Group (GEERG) and other Canadian research has also shown its existence in areas of the Saguenay Fjord and the San Lorenzo estuary.
The Dipodomys are small rodents that live in the United States and Mexico. It is called a kangaroo because they jump on two legs like kangaroos. It is adapted to live in arid habitats where vegetation and water excrete. It digs deep burrows where it takes refuge from the extreme heat of the desert.
Your kidneys are adapted to metabolize water more efficiently. So, you do not need to drink water frequently.
THE SPIDER OF THE VOLCANOES
The Adelocosa anops is originally from Kauai in Hawaii, was discovered in 1971 and is also known as ” cave wolf spider”. It is a unique and complex creature, live between the rocks molded by lava in volcanic caves of the oldest island of Hawaii, Kauai.
This island was formed 3.6 and 5.6 million years ago, at the base of a single volcano that currently forms the Alakai plateau.
In 1971 its existence was discovered in 5 caves in the Koloa area, a rocky area formed in successive eruptions between 0.6 and 1.4 million years ago.
It turns out that it is the only area where there are caves with young basalt rocks. Basalt, being less soluble than limestone, causes the cave to accumulate sediments so undersized caves are also basalt shrinks and cracks as it has cooled facilitates formation do mesocaves within the same caves, unique habitat where lives these phenomenal creatures.
In the deepest caves where darkness is total, passages are narrow and slender, the lack of air exchange, causes drastic temperature changes, in addition to the lack of oxygen and high CO2 content.
Obviously lack of food is another resource that is lacking, but there are limited food supplies carried by groundwater or brought from other animals that live incaves such as bats or rodents. In addition to the roots of the plants that penetrate the cave, but only in the areas closest to the surface.
The cave wolf spider, has been found only in humid and dark mesocaves less than 100 feet above sea level, with nor carbon dioxide levels greater than 3% per volume and warm temperature of about 25 ° C.
This fantastic spider is adapted to survive with low oxygen levels and high contents of carbon dioxide in dark, damp and stagnant areas.
Its population is small, in the observations made between 1996 and 2001 in one of the caves there were between 15 and 28 individuals and in another 1 to 4. Its scarce population, together with the fact that it only lives in these habitats, make Adenocosa anops an endangered species.
They measure between 12.7 to 19.0 mm in length. They have a reddish-brown cap, long, silky, shiny sensory hairs and three large teeth, one above and two at the base. It is a predator.
His particular nickname “No Eyed-Big Eyed Spider” is because usually the common wolf spiders have two large eyes in a central row of eight eyes , although some of the species of the Adelocosa they have them, precisely the Adelocosa anops completely lacks eyes.
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