Cockroaches conceived aboard a Russian space mission are true Olympians — better, stronger, faster than their non-space faring relations, according to a Russian news report.
Since they were born last October they grew faster than expected, researcher Dmitry Atyakshin told RNA Novosti on January 17th. “What is more, we have found out that the creatures… run faster than ordinary cockroaches, and are much more energetic and resilient,” he says. There doesn’t seem to be a research paper as yet though.
This was picked up this week by New Scientist, which asks “Could these positive effects be due somehow to the effectively weightless environment during conception, or to a healthy dose of radiation?”
This isn’t the first time space has made things nastier. Last year research appeared to show that weightlessness made bacteria deadlier (Nature – subscription required). The Foton-M mission that took the roaches into orbit also had a number of other experiments on board. Stand by for super mouse. It’s also worth remember that there are roaches tucked up in Robert Bigelow’s space hotel.
Here at the Great Beyond though I’m not worried. After all we already have robots that can lead the horrible insects to their doom, and failing that we’ll just turn them into zombies with trained wasps.
Our columnist Phil Ball thinks more missions should be like Foton-M
Fish in space help studies of balance disorders – Nature on another Foton-M project.
BoingBoing post, with the usual amusing comments
Image: High detail closeup of a cockroach photo by Joăo Estęvăo A. de Freitas / via Wikimedia