Scientists claim reanimating 46,000-year-old frozen ancient arctic wormstext_fields
Scientists have successfully revived two species of frozen microscopic nematodes found in Siberia, one of which belongs to a previously unknown species. The study, published in PLOS Genetics, reveals that these remarkable creatures, frozen in time for a staggering 46,000 years, have unlocked the secret to their unparalleled survival—cryptobiosis.
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden employed state-of-the-art genome sequencing and phylogenetic analysis to shed light on these ancient worms' extraordinary capabilities.
Dubbed Panagrolaimus kolymaensis, the newly identified species showcased an ability to enter cryptobiosis, a dormant state where life is effectively halted, allowing them to withstand extreme conditions such as dehydration, freezing, and the absence of oxygen.
"We now know that they really survived 46,000 years," exclaimed Teymuras Kurzchalia, one of the study's co-authors and a renowned cell biologist emeritus.
The study further extended the documented cryptobiosis period in nematodes by tens of thousands of years, highlighting the potential for these resilient creatures to persist for even longer durations.
Beyond the scientific achievement, there are practical implications as well. The study's co-author, Philipp Schiffer from the Institute for Zoology at the University of Cologne, emphasized the importance of understanding how species adapt to extreme conditions through evolution.
Such knowledge could be harnessed to aid present-day species and even humans in the face of climate change and habitat disruption.
The worms' ability to survive for thousands of years challenges traditional notions of lifespan and extinction, as creatures that typically live for mere weeks can endure for millennia. This remarkable feat has sparked intriguing questions about the very essence of evolution.