Animals in the wild need to adapt to their surroundings to survive. Some have developed fascinating traits to thrive in harsh environments. Although all species have some evolutionary advantages, some are more adaptable than others.
This article will explore the world’s top 10 most resilient animals – where they live, how they’ve adapted, and what difficult conditions they face every day.
10 Most Resilient Animals
The single most resilient creature on our planet is the tardigrade. These fascinating micro-animals are invisible to the naked eye, as they are only about 0.5 mm long. In other words, they can only be observed using a microscope. However, once you take a closer look, you’ll find a death-defying creature.
Namely, tardigrades are famous for their resilience. Also known as “water bears” or “moss piglets,” these tiny organisms can survive incredibly harsh conditions.
Dehydration, starvation, radiation, and extreme temperatures are some of the most notable. But how do they do this?
Firstly, they have tiny claws on their feet that allow them to grip and move in extreme environments. Secondly, their DNA has a unique protein that makes them immune to radiation. Scientists are trying to replicate it to allow more accessible space travel for humans.
The most important reason why tardigrades are such resilient animals is that they can enter suspended animation. It means they can completely stop their biological functions to prioritize survival. They will curl up in a ball and survive in this state for decades, immune to the extreme conditions they face.
If you’ve ever had the displeasure of dealing with a roach infestation, you’ve probably seen how difficult they are to deal with. They are among the most hated animals known for eating our food, amplifying our allergies, spreading diseases, and even triggering asthma.
However, even if they can be squished with a shoe – you may be surprised to learn that cockroaches are one of the most resilient animals on the planet.
Roaches are becoming increasingly resilient as they can survive weeks with no food, live with no head, and have a much higher tolerance for nuclear radiation than humans.
They also have flexible exoskeletons, making them strong and difficult to kill but also allowing for easy escape through tiny cracks in the wall.
If that wasn’t enough, these pests are actively developing a resistance to the pesticides used to eliminate them. Although it is fascinating to watch these creatures evolve in such a short time – it’s also bad news for any one of us who has to deal with them.
Read Also: Weakest Animals
Speaking of insects, an ant is another incredibly resilient animal.
Like roaches, ants also have a somewhat bad reputation. Still, we must give them credit for developing fascinating survival skills.
If there was ever a truth to the saying “there is power in numbers,” it belongs to ants. An individual may be vulnerable, but as a group, they are a true menace.
The insects utilize what’s called “swarm intelligence,” meaning that they come together as a group to combine their wits to find food, create tunnels in their nests, and do whatever they need to ensure survival.
Not only that, but this small but strong animal can also lift 50 times its own weight due to its exoskeleton!
To move away from insects and microscopic animals, the next resilient being on our list is the camel. After all, these ungulates survive extreme heat in the desert; it’s only logical that they are very resilient.
Camels are perfectly adapted to their extreme environments. These animals are famous for the humps on their backs, but contrary to popular belief, they do not store water there. The humps are actually made of fat that allows thermoregulation in extreme temperatures.
On top of that, they have long eyelashes, and they can voluntarily shut off their nostrils to prevent sand from getting inside. Camels also have large pads on their toes to protect them from scorching sand and allow them to walk easily without sinking.
Interestingly, these animals drink a lot of water – during one refinement, camels can drink up to 20 gallons of water.
A planarian is a type of flatworm that boasts a fascinating adaptation. These worms are one of the few in the world that can completely regenerate.
If you cut a planarian in half, each of the halves will regenerate to form two fully developed individuals.
No matter how small you cut it, the planarian worm will regenerate in days or weeks. They have stem cells called neoblasts, and when a piece of tissue is cut off, these cells activate to restore the missing piece.
Although planarian worms aren’t the only species on Earth that can regenerate (which we’ll discuss soon), they are the best at it.
Did you know that jellyfish aren’t fish? Despite their name, these beautiful animals are actually gelatinous zooplankton – they can’t swim against the current, so they drift in the ocean. Technically, the more correct (and cuter) term for these animals you may have heard is sea jellies!
Nonetheless, these creatures are surprisingly resilient. In fact, we’ve found fossils of this zooplankton that are millions of years older than the dinosaurs! It’s safe to say that they have developed a strong mechanism for survival.
But the most resilient of them all is the turritopsis dohrnii, also known as the Immortal Jellyfish. Yeah, an immortal animal – you’ve read it right!
Biologically speaking, this jelly is immortal – once it reaches old age, it reverts back to its childhood. It can also return to a previous development phase if it’s in danger or damaged.
In theory, jellyfish could live forever. But, in reality, it usually succumbs to predators and dies before reverting back.
As a result, it requires almost perfect conditions to achieve the immortality it’s named after.
The most mind-blowing fact about sharks as a species is that they predate trees, dinosaurs, and Mt. Everest. During their long time on Earth, they’ve survived five mass extinction events.
They are one of the oldest animals on our little planet and, at the same time, one of the most resilient.
These fascinating fish are tremendous predators at the top of their food chain. They live in the deep, blue sea, and they’re fully adapted to ocean life, with a layer of skin so thick that it can stop bullets.
Many species of sharks live up to 30 years, but the Greenland shark can live to be 500 years old!
You may have heard of a hydra as a mythical beast, a nine-headed monster in Greek and Roman mythology with poisonous blood and deadly instincts. The mythical hydra is known for its ability to regenerate – if you cut a head off, two will grow back.
In reality, hydras are tiny freshwater organisms no longer than 10 mm (or 0.4 inches). Although they aren’t bloodthirsty beasts, the two hydras have one thing in common – regeneration.
In real life, hydras (much like planarians) regenerate when injured, forming a new individual from severed tissue.
Furthermore, they are also biologically immortal. The stem cells of these creatures renew themselves indefinitely. This means the hydra doesn’t age and can’t die from natural causes.
Like cockroaches, bed bugs are also tricky pests to get rid of. But, unlike the roaches, which steal our food, bed bugs have a much more sinister diet – they feed off our blood, leaving itchy, red spots on our skin. `
Luckily, bed bugs are usually harmless, and despite their annoyance, they won’t cause severe health issues.
But these human parasites are pretty resilient. They can survive for months without food, traveling from place to place looking for their next meal, and they are adaptable to changes in temperature.
Most importantly, they are also developing a resistance to common pesticides used to treat an infestation.
The last member on our list of the most resilient animals is the famous creature known for its survival skill – the rat. The species has been inhabiting our planet for millions of years, surviving numerous mass extinction events.
Like most other animals on our list, rats have evolved in exciting ways to ensure survival.
Their soft, squishy bodies allow them to swiftly run away through a tiny crevice. They can also fall from a significant height of up to 50 feet (15 meters) and continue on about their day as if nothing happened, suffering no injuries.
As rats are often prey, they live in survival mode – doing everything they can to ensure their safety.
However, their reproductive habits are the single biggest reason these rodents have survived for so long. Rats have a gestational period of just three weeks, and with litters of up to 12 pups – a single female can birth a hundred pups in one year.