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A spate of studies claiming to have ‘awoken’ ancient organisms after thousands of years trapped in Arctic permafrost has sparked debate across social media this week, and spurred scrutiny into the methods used to date Ice Age specimens.
According to a report from the Washington Post, a team investigating ice-entombed mosses from Canada’s Ellesmere Island in the early 2000s managed to revive plant samples from the site despite centuries frozen underground.
Scientists - Antarctic - Survey - Feat - Time
Separately, scientists with the British Antarctic Survey achieved a similar feat not long after, this time with 1,500-year-old moss collected from the southernmost continent.
But, in what would be the most extraordinary development, a team of microbiologists announced last year that they’d resurrected nematodes that had been locked in Siberian permafrost for, in one case, roughly 41,000 years.
Discoveries - Fears - World - Ice - Thaws
Together, the discoveries have fueled fears about what else could be released back into the world as the ice thaws, including ancient diseases.
Scientists not involved with the research, however, say the nematode findings come as a ‘huge surprise,’ and some warn they should be taken with a grain of salt.
Tatiana - Vishnivetskaya - University - Tennessee - Microbiologist
Tatiana Vishnivetskaya, a University of Tennessee microbiologist whose team led the nematode study, told the Post that the ancient roundworms came as an ‘accidental finding’ among less complex forms of life in the samples.
Single-celled organisms may be known to survive millennia trapped in the ice, but for a multicellular animal to do the same is as yet unheard of.
Researchers - Findings
The researchers published their findings in 2018...
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