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

Posted: July 26, 2018 by oldbrew in News, research

Siberian permafrost [image credit: Julian Murton / BBC]

One small wriggle for a worm, one giant…etc. This discovery has novelty value and should stir the imaginations of sci-fi writers, whatever its real significance may be.

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

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.’

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.

Continued here.

  1. Annie says:

    Fascinating stuff. Couldn’t read further though….’bad gateway’.

  2. Graeme No.3 says:

    I can see the next Guardian headline – Global Warming releases ancient worms that were thought safely frozen.

  3. Bitter@twisted says:

    So 32000 years ago it was warm enough for squirrels to make burrows.
    I’m surprised they didn’t find any buried SUVs and manage to start them, once they had thawed out.

  4. dennisambler says:

    Graeme No.3

    They’ve been there, done that, T-shirts are probably on sale:

    “Climate change is melting permafrost soils that have been frozen for thousands of years, and as the soils melt they are releasing ancient viruses and bacteria that, having lain dormant, are springing back to life.”

    “Ancient Clues from a Frozen Forest

    “Péwé said the frozen forest at Eva Creek thrived at a time that was up to 5 degrees Celsius warmer than it is today, when there was little-to-no permafrost.

    Because the frozen forest is full of charred trees, Péwé suspects there were a lot of forest fires 125,000 years ago. Insect galleries carved into the bark of some of the frozen spruce indicate that the spruce bark beetle was also here then.

    During a cooling period, about 120,000 years ago, the Eva Creek trees died and were eventually covered with loess from dust storms that began on the Tanana Flats.The ancient trees froze as the climate became cold enough to produce permafrost.”

  5. lapogus says:

    ffs – just looked at the headline with tired eyes and thought it said women. Imagine that, a paleolithic Siberian hag wakes up after 42,000 years…