Scientists Found 42,000-Year-Old Frozen Worms

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Scientists Found 42,000-Year-Old Frozen Worms


Tatiana Vishnivetskaya, a microbiologist at the University of Tennessee, and her team were trying to map the web of single-celled organisms that have flourished in the Siberian permafrost. What they didn’t expect is to find little creatures that, apparently, were asleep for over 42,000 years.

Live Science, a science news website that features groundbreaking developments in science, space, technology, health, the environment, our culture and history, reported that the researchers found microscopic worms that have been frozen since the Pleistocene on Siberia. Their study, which was published in the journal Doklady Biological Sciences, analyzed 300 samples of Arctic permafrost deposits where they found two that held several well-preserved nematodes. The first sample was estimated to be about 32,000 years old while the other one was around 42,000 years old.


A microscope / Photo by: Pixabay via Unilad


In these permafrost deposits are isolated worms which are still moving and eating. The researchers found two known nematode species: Panagrolaimus detritophagus and Plectus parvus. They considered this as the first evidence of "natural cryopreservation" of multicellular animals. According to Unilad, a British Internet media company and website owned by LADbible Group, the experts admitted that nematodes are well-equipped to endure millennia locked in permafrost. 


A nematode / Photo by: Shutterstock via Live Science


Gaetan Borgonie, a nematode researcher at Extreme Life Isyensya in Gentbrugge, Belgium, said, “These buggers survive just about everything.” As of now, the researchers are further studying how these ancient nematodes have survived living frozen for so long. They emphasized how these adaptations can affect many scientific areas such as cryomedicine, cryobiology, and astrobiology. However, Ice Age ecologist Dr. Jacquelyn Gill expressed caution over the findings in a tweet. According to Gill, the nematodes may actually have been modern worms since they can be found in tap water. 

This is not the first time that organisms have been woken from millennia in icy suspension. For instance, another group of scientists had identified a giant virus that was resuscitated after spending 30,000 years frozen in Siberian permafrost. 


Arctic ice / Photo by: Pixabay via Unilad




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