Scientists have literally brought the dead back to life after they managed to wake up frozen roundworms after being trapped for 42,000 years in the Siberian permafrost. It sounds like the beginning of a science fiction movie – one that would probably end with a few humans frozen in experiments. But this is real life, so let’s just stop at defrosting roundworms for now.
Russian researchers collaborated with Princeton University and published their findings in the journal Doklady Biological Sciences. They explain that this research is the first of its king to have discovered a multi-cellular organism that can live through a long-term cryobiosis.
The research started with collectionof 300 samples of permafrost from Siberia, and two of them contained nematodes. After being defrosted, the nematodes revived. All nematodes that survived were females, and right now, they are the oldest living creatures on Earth, having been born sometime durng the Pleistocene period. To the scientists’ amazement, the worms are moving on the Petri dishes and eating.
But how did the scientists know how old these worms were? The samples taken from the two sites in Siberia are from an ancient squirrel burrow which is close to the Kolyma River and is 32,000 years old and the second sample was found near the Alazeya River – 41,700 – 42,000 years old.
Considering that the ice on this regions thaw less than 2.6 feet every year, and the last time they thawed more than 4.9 feet was almost 100,000 years ago, meaning that these nematodes were not from the modern times and they couldn’t have seeped into the permafrost.
This Discovery Is Important For Other Fields of Science
The scientists have concluded in their study that multicellular organisms can survive long-term “cryobiosis under the conditions of natural cryoconservation” and that the “Pleistocene nematodes have some adaptive mechanisms that may be of scientific and practical importance for the related fields of science, such as cryomedicine, cryobiology, and astrobiology.”
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere