Worms Frozen in Siberia For Over 40,000 Years Have Risen From the Dead

Friday, 27 July 2018 - 10:36AM
Weird Science
Earth
Friday, 27 July 2018 - 10:36AM
Worms Frozen in Siberia For Over 40,000 Years Have Risen From the Dead
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Image Composite: Pixabay and USFWS by Dave Herasimtschuk, Fresh Waters Illustrated CC BY-NC 2.0
Han Solo may have survived in carbonite for months, and Captain America may have survived being frozen for 70 years, but there are two worms in petri dishes that broke those records by a lot. According to the Siberian Times, scientists analyzed over 300 prehistoric worms and found that two nematodes discovered in different areas of Siberia still showed signs of life after being trapped in ice for 42,000 years. And we don't mean "alive" in the way that severed tentacles or snake heads are alive - the roundworms actually began to move and eat!

via GIPHY

"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.  


via GIPHY

In a lab at The Institute of Physico-Chemical and Biological Problems of Soil Science in Russia, the worms were defrosted in a process called cryoprotective dehydration, which prevents tissue from tearing when the water molecules crystallize and expand inside cells. According to 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
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