Russian scientists announced Monday that a microscopic animal called a bdeloid rotifer has come back to life after being frozen for 24,000 years in Siberia and has managed to reproduce.
The discovery raises questions about the mechanisms by which this multicellular animal — about half a millimeter long and living in freshwater environments — uses to withstand this latency period, according to research co-author Stas Malavin.
According to Malavin, rotifers can be added to the list of multicellular organisms that appear to be able to survive indefinitely thanks to cryptobiosis, “a state in which metabolism stops almost completely.”
The scientific team collected samples from the Alaziya River in Siberia and used radiocarbon dating to determine that these samples were between 23,960 and 24,485 years old.
Once the ice thaws, the bdeloid rotifers are able to reproduce through parthenogenesis, a type of asexual reproduction in which an embryo develops without fertilization.
In other multicellular organisms, a case of a revived 30,000-year-old nematode was previously reported. Algae and plants also regenerate after thousands of years on ice.
You are Results The announced discovery was published in the scientific journal Current Biology.