A microscopic animal has come back to life after sleeping in the Arctic permafrost for 24,000 years.
Leech-like rotifers usually live in aquatic environments and have an incredible ability to survive. Russian scientists found these creatures in a core of frozen soil extracted from the 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 state of almost completely stopped metabolism,” said Stas Malavin, a researcher with the Soil Cryology Laboratory at the Pushchino Scientific Center for Biological Research.
Earlier studies by other groups have shown that rotifers can survive up to 10 years in a frozen state. In the new study, the authors used radiocarbon dating to determine that the creatures they recovered from the earth’s permafrost are about 24,000 years old.
“Of course, the more complex an organism, the more difficult it is to keep it alive in frozen form, and for mammals that is currently impossible. Nevertheless, this finding of not only a single-celled organism, but also an organism with a gut and a brain, albeit microscopic, is a big step forward,” the authors note.