The Fascinating Process For The Stage Cryptobiosis

Some animals may enter the stage of cryptobiosis to ensure their survival when their habitat changes radically.
The fascinating process of the cryptobiosis stage

Did you know that there are animals that can inactivate themselves during extreme situations? It’s true! Some living beings enter a state of latency, or the stage of cryptobiosis, during which they do not perform any type of metabolic activity. This allows them to survive extraordinary environmental conditions such as dehydration, lack of oxygen, low temperatures, lethal doses of radiation or a combination of them all.

We invite you to continue reading about one of the most fascinating processes in nature.

Disabling for survival through the cryptobiosis stage

Cryptobiosis is a process that some organisms can use when faced with adverse conditions. In this state, they stop their metabolic activity. They will neither reproduce nor develop until conditions are favorable again. This is a reversible phase that some have come to call “resurrection”.

Some animals go through this condition to be able to live for long periods. We are talking about indefinite periods of time – theoretically it could be infinite.

Many invertebrates such as crustaceans’ embryos, rodents, nematodes and slow-moving insects have this ability; in addition, it is a common strategy in bacteria. Researchers have also observed it in some plant tissues, seeds and even in more sophisticated plant tissues.

According to what they have seen, it seems that cryptobiosis allows organisms to balance on the verge of life, but also of death. This is why some researchers believe that it is the third form of biological organization.


The four types of animals that can inactivate themselves through the stage of cryptobiosis

There are up to four types of cryptobiosis that depend on the extreme environmental situation that a particular living being has to endure:


This type of cryptobiosis occurs when a living being has to endure long periods of drought and is characterized by loss of water through evaporation. As a result, the animal loses more than 95% of its body fluids and shuts down its metabolism.


An organism enters a state of cryobiosis when the temperature conditions are extremely low. This allows it to survive being completely frozen.

The cooling speed must be slow for this process to be carried out properly. The key to cryobiosis is to freeze the living thing, but avoid crystallization of liquids so as not to damage their internal tissues. Creatures that are in cryobiosis can live for many years in this state.


This condition is induced when the oxygen level in the environment is low and even non-existent.


Animals that experience this type of cryptobiosis are those that experience extreme variations in salt concentrations.

Examples of animals that can enter the stage of cryptobiosis

Crayfish ( Artemias salinas)

When the conditions are not optimal for the development and growth of the larvae of these small crustaceans, the eggs go into a state of inactivation for a long time. In addition, this stage can be up to ten years.

Due to this, they can withstand extreme situations such as the absence of water and oxygen, as well as temperatures below freezing. Under these conditions of cryptobiosis, the development of the egg stops and stops all metabolic processes until the conditions for water, oxygen and temperature become favorable again.

animals that can enter the stage of cryptobiosis

Rotifera can use the cryptobiosis stage

Wheeled animals (Rotifera) belonging to the class Bdellooids (Bdelloidea) are microscopic invertebrates that live in freshwater.

These organisms can enter a state of anhydrobiosis during drought. This is why they take on a special shape when the water evaporates. They reduce their body volume through this process. This is because they compress their organs and their hollow organs look darker under a microscope.

Sluggish insects or bears

This is the most common example of organisms using the cryptobiosis stage.

Sluggish insects, also called bears, are microscopic animals that live both on land, in the sea and in freshwater environments. Most surprisingly, they can use all four types of cryptobios states:

  • During anoxibiosis, they become immobile, transparent and even stiff. Thus, they can remain in this state for up to 5 days, with the exception of strictly aquatic species that can only survive for a maximum of 3 days.
  • As for the condition cryobiosis, it allows them to survive frozen for several years.
  • Similarly, osmobiosis is an ability that allows freshwater insects to shrink when placed in a saline solution, while marine species become swollen in freshwater.
  • Finally, these animals contract, retract the head and legs, and assume a specific immobile form (such as rotors) and enter a state of anhydrobiosis when they experience situations in which the amount of water surrounding them decreases.

It is precisely in this way that sluggish insects become very resistant to extreme environmental conditions such as:

  • Temperatures from -273 ° C to 150 ° C
  • High pressure
  • Vakum
  • Radiation (both X-ray and UV)
  • Chemical products
    bears in space


As you can see, cryptobiosis is a fascinating process that allows some animals to survive despite the adverse environmental factors. This ability allows them to colonize environments or situations that are unsuitable for other organisms.

It is therefore an advantage in the animal world and another example of the fantastic natural processes that will never cease to amaze us.


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