Ticks have just become officially scarier. They are the first organisms to live through a trip through a scanning electron microscope. They survived a beam of electrons and vacuum pressure and still kicked their creepy little legs through it and on the other side.
Adding to the ick factor is the fact that the discovery was a bit of an accident. Apparently the ticks (Haemaphysalis flava) crawled into dessicator tubes and researcher Naohisa Tomosugi and colleagues at Kanazawa Medical University, Uchinada Japan observed the ticks came through the experience.
The team then exposed the ticks to the vacuum and electron beam of a scanning electron microscope and again, the ticks survived it. While the vacuum pressure alone didn't do any damage — and the team theorizes maybe the ticks stop breathing for that - when the beam was added they did experience trauma.
Not enough trauma to kill them though as you'll see in the video.
These bugs have officially wrenched the tough guy title from microscopic tardigrades, commonly known as "water bears." These critters are famous for being able to survive just about everything Earth can dish out, and they too have passed through a scanning electron microscope. The difference is they did so in a dehydrated state after having been on a trip through space and then scanned and finally rehydrated.
The plus side to this story is that the scientists suggest we could learn something from the ticks about life in extreme conditions. This would either help us model techniques for adapting this behavior, or give us clues as to what living things we might find dwelling in the harsh environments on other planets.
The tick managing to survive this experience definitely makes one pause. Then the mind inevitably starts to wonder what else could survive — cockroaches perhaps?
Via New Scientist