Russian scientists have found one microscopic worm-like creature, survived for at least 24,000 years in the Siberian permafrost and, once thawed, it was then able to reproduce. They are called rotiferi bdelloidei, exclusively female multicellular invertebrates, already known for their resistance to radiation and their ability to resist rather inhospitable environments: drying, starvation and lack of oxygen. They have existed for at least 35 million years and can be found today in freshwater lakes, ponds, streams, and moist terrestrial habitats such as mosses, lichens, tree bark, and soil.
“These tough little creatures – which have a complete digestive system that includes a mouth and anus – are able to survive in hostile environments by stopping all activity and almost completely shutting down their metabolism,” says the Guardian. The process is called cryptobiosis, which means “hidden life,” explains Stas Malavin, a researcher at the Soil Cryology Laboratory at the Institute of Physico-Chemical and Biological Problems in Soil Science in Pushchino, Russia. “It’s a state between life and death,” he reveals.
The rotifers found in the permafrost would have been under the feet of large, now extinct woolly creatures, “like the woolly rhino,” Malavin said. Once thawed in a laboratory setting, the rotifers were able to reproduce, the researchers wrote in the journal Current Biology, via cloning. But scientists are uncertain about the biological mechanisms that allow these tiny organisms to survive in the ice for such a long time. “The results of this document are questions rather than answers”. Matthew Cobb, a zoology professor at the University of Manchester who was not involved in the research said that the most spectacular implication of the research is that there could be many types of animals frozen in permafrost that could wake up. as global warming melts permafrost.