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Water bears DON’T have lots of foreign DNA

water bear/Aziz Aboobaker and Mark Blaxter

From ScienceDaily:

Now, a study has found that, contrary to a previous controversial proposal, tardigrades have not acquired a significant proportion of their DNA from other organisms.

Instead, new analysis from the University of Edinburgh shows that nearly all of what was proposed to be foreign DNA was simply bacterial contamination.

Controversy had been prompted by a November 2015 study suggesting that one-sixth — some 17 per cent — of the DNA of freshwater tardigrades could be traced to transfers from bacteria.

The scientific world was abuzz with speculation following this suggestion that tardigrades had the ability to pick up and reuse DNA from other species. More.

Everything else that’s weird about them is still weird though: “Tardigrades, also known as moss piglets or water bears, are eight-legged microscopic animals that have long fascinated scientists for their ability to survive extremes of temperature, pressure, lack of oxygen, and even radiation exposure.”

See also: 30 year old frozen water bears come back to life

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