Scientists revived prehistoric worms from permafrost

Scientists revived prehistoric worms from permafrost

June 10, 2021

The creatures have been frozen for over 24 thousand years.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. Biologists have discovered several viable microscopic rotifers from the Adineta genus near the banks of the Alazeya river, in the north of Yakutia. The creatures have spent 24 thousand years in a frozen state and have not died, they have also given birth to offspring.

Stanislav Malyavin and his colleagues from the Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems of Soil found the rotifers at a depth of about 3.5 meters underground near the banks of the Yakut river Alazeya.

It was not a surprise for scientists that after freezing, these creatures safely thaw out and return to normal life. To revive rotifers that have been in this state longer than the history of our civilization continues, is an absolute record.

The age of the creatures was determined using the radiocarbon method – they are more than 24 thousand years old.

The analysis carried out by scientists showed that the genome of the prehistoric rotifers is close to the modern species Adineta vaga, whose representatives found in Belgium and neighboring countries. At the same time, the excavated creatures endured repeated freezing well – many modern rotifer species cannot do this, since their cells destroyed as result of the formation of ice crystals. According to experts, this indicates a certain protective mechanism that the ‘resurrected’ worms have developed.

“So far, this is the most reliable evidence that multicellular living things can live tens of thousands of years in a state where their metabolism stops almost completely. We have realized a long-held dream of science fiction writers – a multicellular creature can be frozen and stored for thousands of years, and then brought back to life. Of course, such a procedure cannot yet be carried out for more complex organisms, but we make big step towards this, moving from microbes to animals that have intestines and brains”, said Stanislav Malyavin.

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Text: Mikhail Tuaev, Photo: open sources

June 10, 2021

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