Life After Freezing – Siberian Worms Found Alive after Being Stuck in the Permafrost for 30000 Years

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Let us tell you a story. It all began with a squirrel looking to take shelter by burrowing a spot in the earth, almost 10 inches wide, and where it took various seeds and plants on which it nibbled on. Fast-forward almost 30000 years later, that burrow is now on what we call Siberia, buried under 100 feet of soil, stuck in permafrost (or soil that is frozen all year long).

You can safely assume that there is no trace of the squirrel left on this Earth but all those years ago that squirrel wasn’t alone. Some roundworms, from the nematode phylum, chose that burrow as their home as well, being stuck there for many thousands of years, completely frozen. Some scientists from Russia managed to bring them back to life, which means that these nematodes (all female, by the way) mark the first multicellular organisms that survived for so long in permafrost.

With the climate changing, the permafrost starts to thaw, along with multiple life-forms, from bacteria to amoebas. Before these worms, there was a giant virus named Pithovirus that managed to survive for 30000 years.

From the 300 permafrost samples that these Russian scientists analyzed, only two of them presented viable roundworms. One is represented by what we previously discussed and the other is situated in permafrost deposit close to the Alazeya River. This last sample is about 42000 years old.

The analysis concluded with finding two types of nematodes which, after completely thawing out, began to eat and move around. Maybe you don’t really care about this finding or maybe you see it as something out of a horror movie but you have to realize that we could never survive that long under such conditions and that’s why even something as ordinary as a roundworm must be appreciated.


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