Scientists have resurrected a microscopic worm in Siberia that had been dormant for 46,000 years.
The tiny worms, identified as belonging to the newly classified species Panagrolaimus kolymaensis, were exhumed from a fossilized squirrel burrow near the northeastern Arctic in 2022, according to WordsSideKick.com. Scientists were able to revive the frozen worms in 2018.
Now genetic sequencing has found that they are an entirely new species of worm that has been dormant in the permafrost since the last ice age, The Week reports.
Tom Whipple in The Times said the worms had fallen asleep in a world completely different from the one we live in now. "The pyramids were not built, the hanging gardens of Babylon were not planted and our ancestors shared the planet with Neanderthals," he said.
Sarah Knapton of The Telegraph said the worms that went to sleep 46,000 years ago were put into a nutritious soup to stimulate their growth. So the worms slowly thawed and were brought back to life. After a few weeks, the worms began to eat and move.
But despite all efforts, they died after a few months. Nevertheless, the researchers said that the new species had undergone experiments and the necessary data had been obtained.
The worms in question belong to the nematode species. They are one of the few known creatures that can survive in harsh conditions. Before this discovery, the longest known duration for nematode worms was 25.5 years in the Arctic.
Teymuras Kurzchalia of the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology in Dresden, Germany, who led the new research, said the findings are important for understanding evolutionary processes. "The lifespan of generations can extend from days to millennia, leading to long-term survival of individuals of species," he said.
Professor Kurzchalia said scientists will now be able to "understand how to reach a state between life and death." The Daily Mail said the research could help us better store cells and tissues in the future.
Source: The Week