- [Narrator] Intense heat,
These harsh environments don't seem hospitable for life
but some organisms not only survive but thrive
under such extreme conditions.
The name extremophile means extreme lover.
These organisms live in exceptionally harsh environments.
Such as hot hyperthermal vents or buried in rocks
far beneath the Earth's surface.
Extremophiles occur in all three domains of life.
Bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes.
They range from the extreme heat-loving thermomophiles
which feed off of inorganic chemicals
and have special enzymes to survive high temperatures
to extreme cold-loving psychrophiles which have evolved
antifreeze proteins that help ensure their survival
in some of the coldest waters on the planet.
But the most extreme living things on Earth are tardigrades.
Also known as water bears, these water-dwelling
micro animals are polyextremophiles.
This means they are capable of surviving
multiple harsh conditions.
They are nearly indestructible and have even survived
the extreme conditions of outer space.
Tardigrades have a unique adaptation that allows them
to curl up into a dry, seemingly lifeless ball.
And slow down their metabolic rate.
In this state, they can survive cold, dry environments
like space for decades.
Studying the adaptations of extremophiles may hold the key
to solving many of Earth's problems.
This includes the development
of genetically based medications,
producing new types of biofuels,
and protecting people against radiation exposure.
Extremophiles have opened our minds to the many
possibilities of life and the environments
that can support it.
Understanding the limits of life in these extreme
conditions on Earth may provide scientists with clues
of how life could possibly exist elsewhere in the universe.