Researchers successfully revived ancient microbes, some more than 100 million years old, that were buried in the seafloor. During an expedition to the South Pacific Gyre, the scientists from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) and their colleagues drilled into the ocean sediment almost 6,000 meters below the surface.
"Our main question was whether life could exist in such a nutrient-limited environment or if this was a lifeless zone," JAMSTEC senior scientist Yuki Morono said. "And we wanted to know how long the microbes could sustain their life in a near-absence of food."
From a JAMSTEC announcement:
With fine-tuned laboratory procedures, the scientists, led by Morono, incubated the samples to coax their microbes to grow. The results demonstrated that rather than being fossilized remains of life, the microbes in the sediment had survived, and were capable of growing and dividing.[…]
"What's most exciting about this study is that it shows that there are no limits to life in the old sediment of the world's ocean," said [URI Graduate School of Oceanography professor Steven] D'Hondt. "In the oldest sediment we've drilled, with the least amount of food, there are still living organisms, and they can wake up, grow and multiply."
The Daily Grail warns, "Lovecraftian horrors await us in 2021 don't they…"
More: "Aerobic microbial life persists in oxic marine sediment as old as 101.5 million years" (Nature Communications)