Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — After 24,000 years, a microscopic animal has been resurrected from its deep sleep in arctic permafrost.
Rotifers, which are both microscopic and semi-microscopic animals, usually live in aquatic environments, and have an incredible ability to survive.
Russian scientists discovered these tiny creatures in the core of permafrost extracted from Siberian permafrost using a drilling rig.
“Our report is the strongest evidence to date that multicellular animals can survive tens of thousands of years in cryptobiosis, a condition in which multicellular animals can survive,” said Stas Malavin, a researcher at the Soil Remnants Laboratory at the Pushchino Scientific Center for Biological Research in Russia. Metabolism is almost completely shut down.
Previous research by other groups has shown that rotifers can live for up to 10 years, when frozen.
In a new study, Russian researchers used radiocarbon dating to determine that the creatures they recovered from permafrost, which is ground frozen year-round, apart from the thin layer near the Earth’s surface, were about 24,000 years old.
The study was published in the journal Current Biology on Monday.
Trunks of Antarctic moss were successfully replanted from a 1,000-year-old specimen that had been covered in ice for nearly 400 years, and live Campion flower was regenerated from seed tissue, likely stored by an arctic squirrel, that had been preserved for 32,000 years in ancient permafrost. .
Simple worms, called nematodes, were revived from permafrost from two places in northeastern Siberia, in sediments more than 30,000 years old.
Long-dead but well-preserved mammals, including extinct cave bears and mammoths, have also been discovered from permafrost, which is thawing in some places as a result of the climate crisis.
It is unlikely that larger living species would survive freezing in this way, Malavin noted.
“The idea is that a multicellular organism can be frozen and stored in this way for thousands of years and then come back to life, which is a dream for many fiction writers,” he said in the statement.
He added, “Of course, the more complex the organism, the more difficult it is to keep it alive while frozen, and for mammals, this is not currently possible. However, the transition from a single-celled organism to an organism with a gut and a brain, despite being Microscopically, it’s a huge step forward.”
The study confirmed that once the rotifers were thawed, the delicate creature was able to reproduce, and the small invertebrates were also able to feed.
To understand how the tiny creature survives in permafrost, researchers freeze and thaw modern permafrost rotifers, and find that the tiny creatures can withstand ice crystal formation as they slowly freeze.
Although not all rotifers survive the freezing process, the study indicated that the creatures have a mechanism that can protect their cells and organs from harm at extremely low temperatures.