A spectacular microscopic arctic animal got 24,000 years worth of sleep and woke up just fine on the other side.
A recent study analyzes the impressive history of a bdelloid rotifer, a tiny freshwater critter that did just fine in the Siberian permafrost for millennia.
Stas Malavin, a member of the Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Soil Science in Russia, said:
“Our report is the hardest proof as of today that multicellular animals could withstand tens of thousands of years in cryptobiosis, the state of almost completely arrested metabolism.”
Malavin co-authored a paper regarding the rotifer’s amazing feat of survival, and it was recently published in the journal Current Biology on Monday.
Rotifers are also called “wheel animalcules” due to the Latin root of their name, which translates to a rotating “wheel” of minuscule hairs at the end of their body.
The “animalcule” bit refers to them being microscopic.
Malavin’s team specialized in digging up permafrost samples in a remote location via drilling techniques. The rotifer originates from a depth of approximately 3.5 meters. They rely on radiocarbon dating to figure out the age of the animal.
Once thawed, it managed to reproduce by cloning itself essentially.
Permafrost appears to keep on giving.
The Siberian rotifer is in the decent company of ancient viruses and a decently Preserved palaeolithic baby horse plus an intact woolly rhinoceros. Unfortunately, the males were not revivable.
The researchers froze and thawed rotifers in laboratory conditions. The results showed that the animalcules present a yet unknown mechanism for managing to survive the slow freezing process.
The team is looking forward to finding other life forms that can survive such circumstances.