Bdeloid rotifers usually live in watery environments and have incredible survivability. Russian scientists found the creatures in a core of frozen ground extracted from the Siberian permafrost soil with a drill.
“Our report is the hardest evidence yet that multicellular animals could survive tens of thousands of years in cryptobiosis, the state of an almost completely stopped metabolism,” said Stas Malavin, researcher at the soil cryology laboratory at the Pushchino Scientific Center for Biological Research in Russia.
Previous researchfrom other groups had shown that the rotifers can survive in a frozen state for up to 10 years. In a new study, the Russian researchersused radiocarbon dating to determine that the creatures they recovered from permafrost – soil that was frozen year-round except for a thin layer near the surface – were around 24,000 years old.
It’s not the first time ancient life has been revived from a permanently frozen habitat.
Long-dead but well-preserved mammals, including extinct cave bears and mammoths, have also been excavated from the permafrost soil, which in some places is calledFollow the climate crisis.
Malavin said it is very unlikely that larger life forms could be frozen this way.
“The real finding is that a multicellular organism as such can be frozen and stored as such for thousands of years and then brought back to life – a dream for many novelists,” Malavin said in the statement.
“Of course, the more complex the organism, the more difficult it is to keep it frozen alive, and this is currently not possible for mammals. But the transition from a unicellular organism to an organism with a gut and a brain, although microscopic, is a big step forward. “
To understand how the creature survived in the frozen ground in floating animation, the researchers frozen and thawed modern rotifers that live in permafrost areas. They found that the creatures could withstand the formation of ice crystals while they were slowly frozen.
Although not all rotifers survived the freezing process, the study suggested that the creatures have a mechanism in place that can protect their cells and organs from damage at very low temperatures.