Russian scientists have revived a worm that spent 24,000 years frozen in Siberian ice.
The tiny animal called a Bdelloid rotifer was still able to feed and reproduce without a partner once it was thawed, the experts say.
The evidence suggests that these multicellular animals are can survive in a kind of icy holding pattern for tens of thousands of years.
Rotifers are ranked among the toughest animals in the world known for their resistance to extreme environments, Business Insider reports.
They are also one of the most radiation-resistant animals on Earth and can endure extreme dehydration and low oxygen.
Stas Malavin from the Soil Cryology Laboratory in Russia, one of the authors of the study told the New York Times that the “revived animals that saw woolly mammoths” after the findings were published on Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Current Biology.
“The takeaway is that a multicellular organism can be frozen and stored as such for thousands of years and then return back to life – a dream of many fiction writers,” Malavin added.
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Timothy Barraclough, a Professor of Evolutionary Biology who works on rotifers from the University of Oxford said that if the research is true it would be an "incredible result" as it would "extend the recorded ability of Bdelloid rotifers to survive freezing from 10 years to 30,000 years.”
Understanding the biological mechanisms that drove the rotifers to survive such long periods of freezing could help scientists figure out how to better freeze tissues, such as human organs, a press release accompanying the study said.
However, he warned that it possible that the animals colonized the ice later than 24,000 years ago, or after the ice core was removed from the ground.
These animals are not the oldest ever found to be able to survive freezing. In 2018, two parasitic worms known as nematodes were revived from ice that was at least 30,000 years old.
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