Scientists have revived a handful of small, multicellular freshwater creatures known as bdelloid rotifers after spending 24,000 years frozen in Siberian permafrost.
The findings, published Monday in the journal Current Biology, show that creatures can survive a state of cryobiosis – where the animal responds to environmental stress by essentially drying out and falling asleep – much longer than previously known. Earlier studies found that bdelloid rotifers could survive severe cold in a cryptobiotic state for at least six to 1
“Our report is the most difficult evidence to date that multicellular animals can survive tens of thousands of years in cryptobiosis, a state of almost completely arrested metabolism,” said Stas Malavin, co-author of the study and researcher at the Russian Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Sciences. problems in soil science, a press statement said.
For this new study, scientists took samples from the 11.5-foot-deep core of the Alazeya River in northeastern Siberia, where isolated microbes, including rotifers, were found frozen and dormant.
Carbon dating of the nucleus shows that the rotifers were about 24,000 years old and were enclosed in frozen soil from the Pleistocene era, which ended about 11,700 years ago.
Once thawed, the creatures returned to life and began to reproduce through parthenogenesis, an asexual process that creates clones of the original.
“We revived animals that saw woolly mammoths,” Malavin told the New York Times, “which is quite impressive.”
Although there is no doubt about the endurance of the rotifer, the title of the longest nap goes to the nematode. In 2018, scientists revived some of the microscopic worms – also ripped from Siberian permafrost – that had been frozen for 42,000 years.
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