3 BRILLIANT MINUTES: How to survive 46 millennia in the deep freeze

How creatures survive millennia in permafrost conditions
Published: Aug. 9, 2023 at 4:21 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The creature was frozen 46,000 years (give or take a few centuries) in the Siberian permafrost - when researchers thawed it, it sprang back to life!

Okay, it’s only a worm - and very small - but the discovery has excited scientists. The species, called nematode, survived after entering a dormant state known as cryptobiosis, during which the animal doesn’t eat and lacks a metabolism.

The most stunning part of the discovery was the length of time the worm had endured cryptobiosis, said Philipp Schiffer, one of the study’s authors and a group leader at the Institute of Zoology at the University of Cologne in Germany.

Scientists used radiocarbon dating to determine that the soil from the permafrost sample was roughly 46,000 years old.