Scientists have revived an ancient species of worm that slept in permafrost for 46,000 years

The permafrost stretching across the Siberian expanses continues to reveal its secrets to the scientific world. This time, Russian scientists managed to revive a nematode, which spent 46 thousand years in a state of cryptobiosis. This is the oldest multicellular organism that managed to bring back to life. The discovery has aroused great interest in the scientific community and opens new horizons for studying the possibilities of survival of organisms in extreme conditions.

Cryptobiosis is a phenomenon in which organisms hibernate and stop all life processes. They can remain in this state for many years without showing visible signs of life and retaining their viability. This mode is activated under unfavorable conditions such as low temperature, drought or lack of oxygen. Some organisms can remain in cryptobiosis for decades, maintaining their viability until more favorable conditions arrive.

The discovery by Russian scientists was made in Siberian permafrost, where a nematode was found in a gopher burrow. The researchers estimated its age from the corresponding layer and got a figure of 42 thousand years. However, thanks to a radiocarbon study of the organics found in the burrow, a more accurate dating of 46 thousand years was obtained.

To decipher the DNA of the worm, scientists needed the help of colleagues from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Germany. Thanks to this it was possible to determine that this is a completely new species, which was named Panagrolaimus kolymaensis. Scientists note that morphologically these nematodes are very difficult to distinguish, so they were previously described as a modern species. However, genomic analysis has revealed a new species for science, which has not yet been found in modern soils. Such a discovery provides an opportunity to study more deeply the mechanisms of survival of organisms in permafrost conditions.

Scientists are confident that this is only the beginning of research in this area. They do not rule out the possibility of discovering and revitalizing organisms that have spent even longer periods of time in permafrost. The experience of Anastasia Shatilovich’s laboratory shows that the more complex the organism, the less time it can stay in the permafrost. Bacteria can survive for millions of years, while the limit for simple infusoria is 50,000 years. However, further studies of frozen sediments in Siberia may reveal even older multicellular organisms.

The discovery of Russian scientists opens new prospects for studying the possibilities of survival of organisms in extreme conditions. This will allow a deeper understanding of the processes of evolution and adaptation of living beings to harsh climatic conditions. In addition, the scientific community hopes that the research results will help develop new technologies and methods for preserving life in extreme conditions.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x