It sounds like the plot of a sci-fi cheese movie: Scientists dig up something that's been buried in the frozen Arctic soil for tens of thousands of years and decide to heat it up a bit. The creature stirs as its cells slowly awaken from their long stasis. Over time, the animal wakes up, having traveled in time 24 years thanks to its body's ability to shut itself off once temperatures reach a certain low. It sounds too amazing to be true, but it is.
In a new article published in Current biology, researchers reveal their discovery of a microscopic animal frozen in arctic permafrost for about 24 years. The creature, which is said to have lived in water during its previous life, was revived when the ground thawed. The discovery is incredibly important, not just for the ongoing study of the creatures found frozen in time here on Earth.
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The little creature is called a bdelloid rotifer. These multicellular animals live in aquatic environments and have a reputation for being particularly resistant to freezing temperatures. They are obviously able to survive the process of freezing and then thawing, and they're not the only small animal that has this ability.
However, there is always the question of how long an animal can be frozen before it can no longer be awakened. While a creature can survive freezing for a year, that does not automatically mean that it can also survive freezing for 10 or 100 years, or in the case of the bdelloid rotifer, 24.
This discovery was made in Siberia, and it is not the first time that frozen creatures have been removed from the ground there and then awakened. Tiny worms were also discovered in the region's frozen layer of soil not too long ago, and once scientists had a chance to raise their temperature in a controlled environment, they came back to life.
There are always big questions about the safety of conducting research like this. When you unearth something that has been frozen for tens of thousands of years, there is always the possibility that it carries some sort of disease that has never been seen by humans before. If life on Earth today is not well equipped to deal with a disease brought back to life by a frozen animal, it could set off a truly catastrophic chain of events.
Researchers doing this type of work take precautions to ensure epidemics don't occur, and creatures that come back to life from frozen ground often don't live long enough for containment issues to be a problem anyway. major concern. Still, it's pretty wild to know that these animals are technically tens of thousands of years old but still alive and well.
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This article appeared first (in English) on https://bgr.com/science/frozen-animal-revived-siberia-5930569/