A 46,000-year-old Worm Got Revived From Siberian Permafrost
In a remarkable scientific discovery, a 46,000-year-old worm got revived from Siberian permafrost. The female microscopic roundworm was brought back to life after being in suspended animation deep within the icy confines of the permafrost.
Hajra ShannonJul 30, 2023187 Shares23349 Views
In a remarkable scientific discovery, a 46,000-year-old worm got revived from Siberian permafrost. The female microscopic roundworm was brought back to life after being in suspended animation deep within the icy confines of the permafrost. Researchers successfully revived the ancient creature, and to their astonishment, it began reproducing offspring within a controlled laboratory environment.
For quite some time, scientists have been aware of certain microscopic organisms' remarkable ability to endure harsh environments by entering a state known as cryptobiosis. During this fascinating process, these creatures slow down their metabolism to such an extent that it becomes virtually undetectable, allowing them to effectively pause their lives and survive in even the most adverse conditions.
As far back as 1936, scientists made a remarkable discovery when they found a viable crustacean, several thousand years old, buried in the permafrost to the east of Russia's Lake Baikal. Fast forward to 2021, another groundbreaking revelation came to light when researchers announced their success in reviving ancient bdelloid rotifers, microscopic multicellular creatures, that had been preserved in Siberian permafrost for an astonishing 24,000 years.
Before this groundbreaking achievement, the previous record for reviving a nematode belonged to an Antarctic species that came back to life after a few dozen years of dormancy. However, the latest star in this fascinating field is the newly identified species of nematode, Panagrolaimus kolymaensis, which surpasses the previous record by tens of thousands of years in a state of suspended animation.
Scientists wake up a 46,000-year-old worm
The frozen soil containing the nematode was extracted from an ancient gopher hole, located approximately 130 feet beneath the surface. Using radiocarbon dating, scientists were able to determine that the soil had an age of 46,000 years, with a margin of error of around a thousand years. Such discoveries provide valuable insights into the astonishing capabilities of these resilient organisms to withstand the test of time in a state of cryptobiosis.
Should the age of these worms truly align with the findings of the study, they would undoubtedly stand as the most remarkable and astonishing instances of what scientists term cryptobiosis - an extraordinary capability of organisms to halt their own metabolism during adverse conditions.
"I thought it was an impressive and interesting piece of work," says David Wharton, an emeritus professor of zoology at New Zealand’s University of Otago, who was not involved in the new research.
The process of reviving these creatures is surprisingly straightforward. The researchers cautiously thaw the soil, ensuring a gradual warming to avoid cooking the delicate nematodes. Once thawed, the worms come back to life and exhibit their characteristic wriggling movements. Placed in a laboratory dish, they voraciously consume bacteria and engage in the remarkable feat of reproduction.
Although the original 46,000-year-old nematode itself is no longer alive, its legacy lives on through the efforts of scientists who have successfully bred over 100 generations from this single ancient specimen. What truly captivates researchers is not only the astonishing age of the nematode but also the intriguing process by which it enters a limbic state, preserving its essence throughout millennia.