Ancient worms resurrected after spending more than 32,000 years on ice

The nematodes isolated from Pleistocene permafrost deposits of the Kolyma River Lowland. Image credit: Doklady Biological Sciences

A team of Russian scientists is lining themselves up to be the opening cast of a John Carpenter film. Earlier this month [July], in the journal Doklady Biological Sciences, they announced they had apparently discovered ancient nematode worms that were able to resurrect themselves after spending at least 32,000 years buried in permafrost. The discovery, if legitimate, would represent the longest-surviving return from the cold ever seen in a complex, multi-celled organism, dwarfing even the tardigrade.

After isolating intact nematodes, the scientists kept the samples at 68 degrees Fahrenheit and left them surrounded by food in a petri dish, just to see what would happen. Over the next few weeks, they gradually spotted flickers of life as the worms ate the food and even cloned new family members. …

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At the same time, the team’s findings could still be a dud. “The biggest issue is the potential for contamination of ‘ancient samples’ with ‘contemporary’ organisms,” [said Robin M. Giblin-Davis, a nematologist and acting director of the Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center at the University of Florida.]

As far as the horror movie scenario goes, there’s no indication these worms would present any danger to people (though some species of nematode can make us sick). Still, if you’re studying long-ago frozen creatures in the Arctic, it’s probably worth stocking a fire-thrower or two.

Read full, original post: Russian Scientists Claim to Have Resurrected 40,000-Year-Old Worms Buried in Ice

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