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Worms frozen in permafrost for up to 42,000 years come back to life

By The Siberian Times reporter
26 July 2018

Nematodes moving and eating again for the first time since the Pleistocene age in major scientific breakthrough, say experts.

Awake after 42,000 years... Picture: The Siberian Times

The roundworms from two areas of Siberia came back to life in Petri dishes, says a new scientific study. 

‘We have obtained the first data demonstrating the capability of multicellular organisms for longterm cryobiosis in permafrost deposits of the Arctic,’ states a report from Russian scientists from four institutions in collaboration with Princetown University.

Some 300 prehistoric worms were analysed - and two ‘were shown to contain viable nematodes’.

‘After being defrosted, the nematodes showed signs of life,’ said a report today from Yakutia, the area where the worms were found.

‘They started moving and eating.’ 

Worms frozen in permafrost for 42,000 years come back to life

Worms frozen in permafrost for 42,000 years come back to life

Worms frozen in permafrost for 42,000 years come back to life
Duvanny Yar and (in the middle) the nematodes. Pictures: Nikita Zimov, Doklady Biological Sciences/Pleiades Publishing

One worm came from an ancient squirrel burrow in a permafrost wall of the Duvanny Yar outcrop in the lower reaches of the Kolyma River - close to the site of Pleistocene Park which is seeking to recreate the Arctic habitat of the extinct woolly mammoth, according to the scientific article published in Doklady Biological Sciences this week. 

This is around 32,000 years old. 

Another was found in permafrost near Alazeya River in 2015, and is around 41,700 years old. 

Currently the nematodes are the oldest living animals on the planet.  

They are both believed to be female. 

Worms frozen in permafrost for 42,000 years come back to life

Worms frozen in permafrost for 42,000 years come back to life

Worms frozen in permafrost for 42,000 years come back to life

Worms frozen in permafrost for 42,000 years come back to life

Worms frozen in permafrost for 42,000 years come back to life

Duvanny Yar and Alazeya river marked on the map, Alazeya River, specialists of the Institite of Psycico-Chemical and Biological Problems and Soil Science in Moscow region

The worms came back to life in a laboratory at The Institute of Physico-Chemical and Biological Problems of Soil Science in Moscow region. 

The scientists say: “Our data demonstrate the ability of multicellular organisms to survive long-term (tens of thousands of years) cryobiosis under the conditions of natural cryoconservation. 

'It is obvious that this ability suggests that the Pleistocene nematodes have some adaptive mechanisms that may be of scientific and practical importance for the related fields of science, such as cryomedicine, cryobiology, and astrobiology.”

The Russian institutions involved in the pioneering research were: The Institute of Physico-Chemical and Biological Problems of Soil Science; Moscow State University; Pertsov White Sea Biological Station, part of Moscow State University; and the Higher School of Economics in Moscow.

The Department of Geosciences, Princeton University, was also involved. 

Comments (91)

Oh, safeguard, where aaaarrreee yyoooouuuuuu???
Leeelee, USA
28/07/2018 00:14
I want the zombie apocalypse to happen can't wait to see happen life is too boring right now
Joe, Hossain Germany
28/07/2018 00:09
Two words... Zombie apocalypse.
Lauryn, New Mexico
28/07/2018 00:08
nick, nj usa
27/07/2018 23:58
Kill the worms, you dont know problems they can cause, this is how the zombie apocalypse starts.
Anonymous, USA
27/07/2018 23:10
If we can avoid all of the prehistoric microbes, I can't wait to see cryo-tech preservation become reality. May be those terminally ill people who froze themselves really do have something to look forward to.
Freezee, Antarctica
27/07/2018 22:29
Fascinating. Now, if we could just keep biblical references out of it...there is much to be learned.
Lisa Valenzuela, United States
27/07/2018 22:25
This mean cyrosleep might be possible someday to humans, right? Or should we worry more about possible living things in frozen food that eaten uncooked?
Arinna, Jakarta, Indonesia
27/07/2018 22:18
I think it is a fantastic achievement & find! I congratulate the scientists involved! There can only be positive results adding to our knowledge from such a great discovery!!
Theresa A Kanost, United States
27/07/2018 22:01
Great news! Now I can go ahead and freeze myself.
Maybe things will be better 47,000 years from now.
robert sand, United States
27/07/2018 21:55
How did it get it?
Chris, Eastleigh
27/07/2018 20:48
We should probably worry more about threats released by deforestation, moving animals, soil, climate change... Because thats millions of these moving around. Anyway, our world gives more money, time and energy to social networksand empty people than to antivirals, antibiotics and antiparasitic research...
D Scully, Arecibo
27/07/2018 20:44
Well,the shield found Steve Rogers..
Gunz, us
27/07/2018 20:15
Thats insane. We could use this to travel to another far away Earth-like planet... just like in the movies!
Il Tornado, France
27/07/2018 20:00
Fantastic find. Unfortunately, the levels of pollution in today's world will probably kill them, if they're exposed to it.
Jay Walker, USA
27/07/2018 19:54

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