Micro-animal survives 24,000 years in Siberian permafrost

A microscopic animal reportedly came back to life after being frozen for 24,000 years in Siberia, informed Russian scientists on June 7, 2021. 

Created On: Jun 8, 2021 16:28 ISTModified On: Jun 8, 2021 16:28 IST
Rotifer survives 24,000 years in Siberian permafrost

A microscopic animal reportedly came back to life after being frozen for 24,000 years in Siberia, informed Russian scientists on June 7, 2021. 

The micro-animal called bdelloid rotifer not only came to life but also successfully made clones of itself, as per the scientists. This was revealed in a paper that was published in the journal, Current Biology. 

A co-author of the paper, Stas Malavin said that the finding raised intriguing questions about what mechanisms the multicellular animal used to endure its long rest. He stated that their report is the hardest proof today that multicellular animals could withstand tens of thousands of years in cryptobiosis, the state of almost completely arrested metabolism.

Stas Malavin is a researcher at the Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Soil Science in Pushchino, Russia.

The Study: Key Highlights

• The research team had used a drilling rig to collect core samples from the Alazeya River in the Russian arctic.

• Then they used radiocarbon dating to determine the age of the specimen. 

• The age of the specimen has been calculated to be between 23,960 to 24,485 years old.

• Once thawed, the micro-animal came to life and was able to reproduce asexually using a process called parthenogenesis.

Significance

The researchers plan to use this organism as a model to study freezing survival and drying survival in this group and compare it to other tough animals like tardigrades and nematodes. 

What are Rotifers?

• The rotifers, commonly called wheel animals, make up a phylum of microscopic and near-microscopic pseudocoelomate animals. 

• Their name is derived from the Latin word for "wheel bearer," which comes from the corona around their mouths that looks like turning wheels. They use these to move and feed.

• Most rotifers have a length of about 0.1–0.5 mm, although their size can range from 50 μm to over 2 mm.

• They are commonly found in freshwater environments throughout the world with a few saltwater species.

• They generally move by inch worming along a substrate or live inside tubes or gelatinous holdfasts that are attached to a substrate. 

• In some recent treatments, rotifers have been placed with acanthocephalans in a larger clade called Syndermata.

• These micro-animals can now be added to the list of organisms that can survive seemingly indefinitely.

Have any other animals come to life similarly?

• The researchers have previously identified single-celled microbes that have come to life after being frozen for thousands of years. 

• In the case of multicellular organisms, there have been reports of 30,000-year-old nematode worms coming back to life. 

• Some mosses and some plants have also been regenerated after many thousands of years trapped in the ice.

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