The scientists from four Russian institutions, in collaboration with Princeton University of the United States, have revived worms (nemotodes) that have been frozen in Siberian permafrost for nearly 42,000 years.
- The worms, known as nematodes or more commonly as roundworms, came from two samples found in Siberia. One was found near the Alazeya River in the northeastern part of Yakutia, Russia, from deposits estimated to be about 32,000 years old. The other permafrost sample came from the Kolyma River in northeastern Siberia, and the age of nearby deposits was around 42,000 years old.
- The nematodes, after being removed from permafrost, were slowly thawed in petri dishes and kept at 20 degrees Celsius. They started showing signs of life, moving and eating after several weeks.
- The worms — all females —represent two known nematode species: Panagrolaimus detritophagus and Plectus parvus.
- The worms, frozen at a time when much of Earth was covered in ice, become the oldest known living things on the planet by a wide margin.
- The study was published in the journal Doklady Biological Sciences.
What is Permafrost
- It is the name given to permanently-frozen ground in high latitudes.
- According to the Nature magazine, It currently covers about 25% of the land in the northern hemisphere. It occurs primarily in the northern latitudes, permafrost includes lands where the soil has been permanently frozen for two or more consecutive years. Sometimes, it just doesn’t thaw out, and remains frozen for millennia.
- As per the scientists, due to climate change, carbon dioxide and methane released into the atmosphere from permafrost will mean more global warming.