An animal has survived frozen in the Siberian permafrost for 24 000 years

The microscopic animal, called a bdelloid rotifer, endured in the Siberian permafrost for 24 000 years before resuming a normal life.

The scenario of this cryonics is worthy of a science fiction movie. A team of scientists from the Soil Cryology Laboratory in Russia have studied a microscopic animal species, the bdelloid, which has survived in the Siberian permafrost for 24,000 years, reveals a study published on 7 June 2021 in the American cell biology scientific journal Current Biology.

A species able to suspend its metabolism for thousands of years

Dug up from 3.6 metres below the surface near the Alazeia River in north-eastern Siberia, the bdelloids were brought to the surface for observation.

After thawing, the animal, which is about half a millimetre long and usually lives in fresh water, came back to life. In a video published in the scientific journal, the bdelloid can be seen moving through a microscope.

A half a millimeter long beastie screenshots

It managed to reproduce asexually using a self-cloning process called parthenogenesisand also resumed normal feeding.

Cryptobiosis pushed to its extremes

The biological ability to enter stasis for a long period of time in a frozen state raises many questions for scientists. Stas Malavin, co-author of the study and a member of the Institute of Physical-Chemical and Biological Problems of Soil in Pushchino (Russia), stresses

Our report is the strongest evidence to date that multicellular animals could endure tens of thousands of years in cryptobiosis, a state in which metabolism is almost completely at a standstill.

This discovery in the permafrost adds rotifers to the list of multicellular organisms capable of surviving indefinitely.

The important thing to remember is that a multicellular organism can be frozen and stored as such for thousands of years and then come back to life, a dream shared by many fiction writers.
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