Worms Frozen in Siberia For Over 40,000 Years Have Risen From the Dead
"We have obtained the first data demonstrating the capability of multicellular organisms for longterm cryobiosis in permafrost deposits of the Arctic," read the abstract for the research article, published in Doklady Biological Sciences. The female nematodes were found in the permafrost of Duvanny Yar and an area near the Alazeya River a few years ago. Because of the rate that the earth defrosts in the region where the nematodes were found, the team of researchers from Princeton and Moscow could rule out the idea that the worms were of the modern variety. Using radiocarbon dating to test the soil around the worms, they found that the Alayeza River worm is slightly older (around 41,700 years old, versus 32,000). Previous studies had shown that the creatures could survive extreme conditions, and they had been revived after a 39-year freeze, but this was the first time that ancient specimens were successfully brought back from their dormant state.
IFL Science, after the worms were placed in cultures at 68º F (20º C) with agar and food, all the researchers had to do was wait. Unfortunately we can't interview 40,000-year-old worms to ask what the world was like back then, but the crazy breakthrough may teach scientists something important about how the nematodes adapt, which could lead to advances in the fields of cryomedicine.
Next stop: New New York, circa 2999.
Image Composite: Pixabay and USFWS by Dave Herasimtschuk, Fresh Waters Illustrated CC BY-NC 2.0