Researchers have revived a handful of small, multicellular freshwater animals known as bdelloid rotors after spending 24,000 years frozen in Siberian permafrost.
The results, published Monday in the journal Current Biology, indicate that creatures can survive in a state of cryptobiosis – where an animal responds to environmental pressures by essentially drying out and entering a dormant state – much longer than previously known. . Previous studies showed that bdelloid rotors could survive extreme cold in a cryptobiotic state for at least six to ten years.
“Our report is the most difficult evidence from today that multicellular animals could withstand tens of thousands of years in cryptobiosis, the state of almost completely arrested metabolism,”
For this new study, researchers took 11.5-foot-deep core samples from the Alazeya River in northeastern Siberia, where isolated microbes, including rotors, were found frozen and dormant.
Carbon dating of the core indicates that the rotors were about 24,000 years old and had been trapped in the frozen soil since the Pleistocene era, which ended about 11,700 years ago.
Once thawed, the creatures returned to life and began reproducing via parthenogenesis, an asexual process that creates clones of the original.
“We revived animals that saw woolly mammoths,” Malavin told The New York Times, “which is pretty impressive.”
Although there is no doubt about the durability of the rotifer, the title of the longest nap goes to the nematode. In 2018, scientists revived some of the microscopic worms – also pulled out of the Siberian permafrost – that had been frozen for 42,000 years.
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