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Arctic animal revived after being frozen for 24,000 years in Siberian permafrost

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This rotifer, a microscopic animal, is also known as a “wheel animalcule.”

Michael Plewka

If I sleep 8 hours, I think I am doing quite well. Meanwhile, a microscopic arctic animal gained 24,000 years and did well on the other side. A new study details the remarkable journey of a bdelloid rotifer, a tiny freshwater creature that survived for millennia in the permafrost of Siberia.

“Our report is the toughest proof to date that multicellular animals could withstand tens of thousands of years in cryptobiosis, the state of almost completely stopped metabolism,” said Stas Malavin of the Institute for Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Human Sciences. Soil in Russia. in a statement from Cell Press.

Malavin is the co-author of an article that describes the incredible feat of survival of the rotifer, published in the journal Current Biology on Monday.

Rotifers are also known as “wheel animalculi, “thanks to the Latin root of their name that is related to a rotating” wheel “of tiny hairs at one end of their body. The” animalculus “part refers to microscopic animals.

Malavin’s team specializes in extracting permafrost samples in remote locations using drilling techniques. The rotifer came from a depth of about 11 feet (3.5 meters). The researchers used radiocarbon dating, a way of determining the age of organic materials, to date the animal. Once thawed, it was able to reproduce essentially by cloning itself.

Permafrost is the gift that keeps giving. The Siberian rotifer is in good company along with ancient viruses, a preserved paleolithic baby horse and a intact woolly rhinoceros. Mammals were not revivable.

Science has witnessed the impressive resilience of small life forms. Tardigrades, affectionately known as water bears, are microscopic animals that can survive freezing, radiation, and even being shot with a gun (up to a point). Researchers have also discovered Crazy little animals deep in the Antarctic ice shelf.

The researchers frozen and thawed rotifers in laboratory experiments. The results suggest that wheel animalcules have a still unknown mechanism for surviving a slow freezing process. The team intends to continue searching for more animals that can survive in similar circumstances. If scientists can understand how animals are protected and preserved, they could improve cryonics for more complex animals, such as humans.

“The bottom line is that a multicellular organism can be frozen and stored as such for thousands of years and then come back to life, a dream of many fiction writers,” Malavin said.

“Of course, the more complex the organism is, the more difficult it is to preserve it,” he says with a great warning for potential human hibernators: “For mammals, it is not currently possible.”

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