Worm over 46,000 years old brought back to life from permafrost by scientists

An ancient worm stuck in the Siberian permafrost has been rejuvenated and brought back to life.

The roundworm had been on pause for around 46,000 years but is now back in the land of the living thanks to the work of scientists.

Found in a fossilised squirrel’s burrow some 40 metres below the surface of the ice, a pair of frozen worms, called Panagrolaimus kolymaensis, were first found by Russian researchers.

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Located in northeast Siberia near the river Kolyma river with studies now concluding that it is a new species of nematode,ITVreports.

Nematodes are roundworms with some 20,000 species knocking around the planet.

They have been known to call soil, water, animals, plants, and, astonishingly, vinegar home.

The worms have remained in an inactive metabolic state called cryptobiosis all these years radiocarbon dating has found.

For context, this worm was frozen 40,000 years before the Great Pyramids were built.

Of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology, lead researcher Professor Teymuras Kurzchalia said the study shows worms can stay in cryptobiosis for far longer than originally thought.

Academics from the University of Cologne oversaw the study with one, Philipp Schiffer, saying: “Our findings are essential for understanding evolutionary processes because generation times can range from days to millennia and because the long-term survival of a species' individuals can result in the re-emergence of lineages that would otherwise have gone extinct”.

The worms were initially brought back to life at the Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Soil Science RAS in Russia by Anastasia Shatilovich and she was then invited to the Planck Institute to collaborate.

The study was published in journal PloS Genetics.

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