41,000 Year Old Complex Organisms — “Animals”, Coaxed Back To Life — From The Siberian Permafrost…

The magic happens in Tennessee, as unlikely as that may seem.

Do read it all here — but imagine that the last time this thing [now reanimated, in a Petri dish, in the soft breezes that blow across the Volunteer State] wriggled about, Neanderthals were standing in the snow. . . likely hunting Wooly Mammoths, unaware that they shared the same spot.

Amazing, and a bit — from the Wa Po, this Sunday night:

. . . .Tatiana Vishnivetskaya has studied ancient microbes long enough to make the extreme feel routine. A microbiologist at the University of Tennessee, Vishnivetskaya drills deep into the Siberian permafrost to map the web of single-celled organisms that flourished ice ages ago. She has coaxed million-year-old bacteria back to life on a petri dish. They look “very similar to bacteria you can find in cold environments [today],” she said.

But last year, Vishnivetskaya’s team announced an “accidental finding” — one with a brain and nervous system — that shattered scientists’ understanding of extreme endurance.

As usual, the researchers were seeking singled-celled organisms, the only life-forms thought to be viable after millennia locked in the permafrost. They placed the frozen material on petri dishes in their room-temperature lab and noticed something strange. Hulking among the puny bacteria and amoebae were long, segmented worms complete with a head at one end and anus at the other — nematodes. . . .

Clocking in at a half-millimeter long, the nematodes that wriggled back to life were the most complex creatures Vishnivetskaya — or anyone else — had ever revived after a lengthy deep freeze.

She estimated one nematode to be 41,000 years old — by far the oldest living animal ever discovered. This very worm dwelled in the soil beneath Neanderthals’ feet and had lived to meet modern-day humans in Vishnivetskaya’s high-tech laboratory. . . .

Okay. Color me. . . astonished. And. . . an odd shade of orange, it seems — and astonished. Smile. G’night.


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