Worms Frozen For 42,000 Years Were Brought Back To Life

In Siberia, many microscopic nematodes – worms that live in soil-  have been released by melting permafrost, which had been in a deep freeze for a surprisingly tens of thousands of years! Two of these species were still alive, which scientists had reported in a new study which was published in the May 2018 issue of the journal Doklady Biological Sciences. The nematodes had represented the first evidence of multicellular organisms that had returned back to life after a long slumber in the Arctic permafrost, according to what the researchers had written.

The size of nematode worms

Nematodes are very small, typically 1 millimeter in length.

Researchers had analyzed 300 samples of the Arctic permafrost deposits and found two well-preserved nematodes. One of the samples had been found in a fossil squirrel burrow near the Alazeya river in the northeastern part of Yakutia, Russia, inside deposits which were estimated to be around 32,000 years old. Other permafrost samples came from the Kolyma Rivers in northeastern Siberia, and the age of the deposits was around 42,000 years, reported the scientists.

They isolated all-female worms from the permafrost samples, discovering that they had represented two well-known nematode species known as Panagrolaimus detritophagus and Plectus parvas. After defrosting the worms, the researchers had seen them moving and eating! making this the evidence of “natural cryopreservation” of multicellular animals, according to the study.

Copepods are harmless planktonic shrimps that are sometimes found in NYC water. Click Here to read more about this amazing creature.

The worms have impressive abilities as well as being awoken after 42,000. They have been found living 0.8 miles (1.3 kilometers) below the Earth’s surface, which is deeper than any other multicellular animal on the planet. Certain types of worms that reside on an island in the Indian ocean have the ability to morph one of five different mouths depending on what type of food is available to them. Others are adapted to live inside slug intestines and travel on the highways of slug defecation.

These worms were not the first organism to awaken from millennia in icy suspension. Another group of scientists previously had identified a giant virus that had been resurrected after spending 30,000 years frozen in Siberian permafrost. Thankfully, amoebas are the only animals that are affected by this ancient virus so we have got nothing to worry about.

Further study will be needed to investigate the mechanisms in the ancient nematodes that had enabled them to survive very lengthy freezing; pinpointing how such adaptions work could have implications in many scientific areas “Such as cryomedicine, cryobiology, and astrobiology,” Concluded the researchers.


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4 Responses

  1. Andy says:

    It’s absolutely incredible to know the worms survived for 42,000 whole years!

    • Factural says:

      Yep, it is really fascinating. Wood frogs are another animal that has this incredible ability to awaken after being frozen for months entirely. Its heart stops moving, its brain and eyelids freeze completely but the water in the cells is replaced by glucose which prevents the cells to freeze solid..So when spring begins, the frog thaws and hops away as if nothing happened.

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